The final stage of a historic election cycle in Nigeria begins Saturday when voters return to the polls to elect governors and other state representatives.
The concluding phase comes just two weeks after President Goodluck Jonathan became Nigeria’s first incumbent leader to lose a bid for re-election. He lost to to Muhammadu Buhari of the opposition All Progressives Congress.
The 36 state governors are said to be among the most powerful politicians in Africa's top economy.
Analysts say that with so much at stake, candidates in the past have often played dirty, snatching ballot boxes, manipulating voter turnout, and engaging in thuggery and intimidation tactics.
The U.S. State Department called Friday for political leaders to underscore the message to their supporters that they should remain peaceful and pursue any grievances through the judicial process.
The United States also encouraged Nigerian voters to bring the same level of commitment to peaceful, credible elections to the polls this weekend as in last month's presidential election.
According to analysts, the presidential election was considered free and less violent than past Nigerian elections.