LAGOS, NIGERIA - Months after historic spring elections in Nigeria that led to the country’s first democratic transfer of power, politicians in several states still are wrangling over powerful government positions.
Lawmakers from the ruling All Progressives Congress, or APC, and the former ruling Peoples Democratic Party, or PDP, have been sparring in court over the outcome of three state governors' races.
The vote in April saw the APC take control of the presidency and a majority of governors' seats. However, APC gubernatorial candidates in Rivers, Taraba and Akwa Ibom states lost the vote, then challenged the results.
In at least two other governors' races, PDP members have filed suit challenging their own party's nomination process.
State governors wield huge power, controlling the purse strings and political machinery of their states.
APC leaders want their candidates to consolidate the party’s power, said political analyst Chris Ngwodo. "They are looking at these areas as highly contentious areas," Ngwodo said. "Of course, it’s also down to the candidates in those places themselves. They are ones that primarily drive the litigation process."
Rivers, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom are all in the southern oil-producing delta.
One of the most closely watched contests is Rivers state. Last month, a judge ordered the state to redo the election after ruling that the APC candidate's complaints of ballot fraud and voter intimidation were valid.
Whoever controls Rivers state wields power over a major source of oil wealth, said Clement Nwankwo, executive director of the Policy and Legal Advocacy Center in Abuja.
"Politically, it would be a strategic state for either of the parties, given the amount of resources that comes to the state," Nwankwo said.
First woman governor
Meanwhile, a court in eastern Taraba state has overturned the win of the PDP governor, giving victory to his APC opponent. Aisha Jummai Alhassan, called "Mama Taraba" by supporters, would be Nigeria’s first woman to be elected governor.
Clashes broke out after the verdict Saturday in the town of Wukari. Police spokesman Joseph Kwaji said seven people were killed and 15 injured.
The court battles are far from finished. The verdict in Taraba state, and others, will likely be appealed to higher courts.