A Week in Nigeria: 6 October

It was the last week before the opposition People’s Democratic Party chooses its presidential candidate

In this week’s round-up: A bitter fight to be the ruling party’s gubernatorial candidate in Lagos, the opposition gears up to select a presidential candidate and MTN’s woes deepen.

  • President Muhammadu Buhari sought to reassure voters that next year’s elections would be free and fair after the opposition and international observers raised concerns over the way the gubernatorial vote in the southwestern state of Osun was conducted a few days earlier. “I have committed myself many times to ensure that elections are fully participatory, free and fair and that the Independent National Electoral Commission will be exactly independent and properly staffed and resourced,” said Buhari in a televised address to mark the anniversary of Nigeria’s independence from British rule.
  • The governor of Nigeria’s commercial powerhouse Lagos, a prominent ruling party figure, lost his bid to seek a second term following a primary selection process that exposed internal divisions in a crucial state months ahead of polls next year. Akinwunmi Ambode, who took office in 2015, was defeated by Babajide Sanwo-Olu in the APC’s primaries for gubernatorial elections to be held in March 2019, just weeks after February’s presidential election in which Buhari will seek a second term. The contest was at times rancorous and prompted Ambode to call for unity in the wake of his defeat which followed weeks of reports that he had lost the support of Bola Tinubu, himself a former Lagos state governor and a political godfather in the region.
  • Ambode’s speech in which he conceded defeat struck a more conciliatory tone than a speech he gave days earlier criticising Sanwo-Olu in which he suggested he wasn’t fit for office.

The controversial poll spawned a flurry of articles in the local press and online media about a “godfather-godson relationship gone awry”. For some, the tense Lagos primary election was a reminder of the influence wielded by Tinubu, the man often referred to simply as Jagaban, whose support helped to sweep Buhari to power in 2015 by delivering voters in the southwest.

It was another week in which South African telecoms giant MTN hit the headlines in Nigeria

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