AFP) – Nigeria‘s President Goodluck Jonathan and his embattled ruling party have wrested a key state from the opposition ahead of general polls next year, results showed Sunday.
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Peter Ayodele Fayose was elected governor in southwestern Ekiti state, beating the incumbent John Kayode Fayemi by a two-to-one margin, the electoral commission said.
The PDP — never out of power nationally since Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999 — lost Ekiti to the All Progressives Congress (APC) four years ago and until Saturday controlled none of the six southwestern states.
The victory will boost the party’s chances in elections next February by creating a possible foothold in the southwest region.
But nationally, the party still faces an uphill battle after several defections of influential state governors, mostly from the north, last year that prompted dozens of PDP lawmakers to switch to the APC.
The defections were caused in part by Jonathan’s expected bid for re-election in defiance of an unwritten PDP rule calling for the presidency to rotate between Christian southerners and northern Muslims.
The head of state, under fire for his handling of the Islamist Boko Haram insurgency and especially his response to the mass kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls in April, has not officially declared his intention to run.
But the rebel governors are convinced that he will.