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Nigeria Gubernatorial Races Hold Key to Presidential Power

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan casts his ballot in his home village of Otuoke, Bayelsa state, April 16, 2011

Next Tuesday, Nigeria holds elections for state governors. The outcome could determine how effective President Goodluck Jonathan will be over the next four years.

Governors are key to presidential power. In a sense, they are as powerful as the president within their states. If the president and most of the governors are from the same party, Mr. Jonathan will more likely see his policies and programs realized.

However, the ruling PDP is facing stiff challenges in some states, and riding the president’s coattails may not be enough to ensure victory on April 26. For instance, the PDP is expected to face tough competition in Lagos and Imo States. There are also opposition strongholds in the southwest of the country. Some analysts believe the PDP will lose some governor seats, as it did in senate contests.

There are concerns about possible violence. Opposition groups have accused sitting governors of harassment and intimidation, including the jailing of some of their members. Security is being increased in the run-up to the vote. Election officials say they are ready.

VOA reporter Chinedu Offor is on assignment in Nigeria and currently in Enugu State in the southeast. To hear his interview with Joe De Capua on the significance of the gubernatorial elections, click on the link below.