Accreditation in the governorship election in 29 of the 36 states of Nigeria commenced at most polling centres across the country at about 8am, with voting also expected to commence almost immediately after as scheduled by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The election comes two weeks after the presidential and national assembly elections that saw power shift from the Peoples Democratic Party after 16 years to the All Progressives Congress.
The election has been predicted to be very keen in Lagos, Kaduna and Rivers States, where the candidates of the two main parties, that is the PDP and the APC, are considered very strong and command large following among the population in each of the states.
In Lagos State, for example, the ruling APC candidate, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, who is supposed to riding on the wave of the recent victory of the party at the federal level, is facing stiff opposition from his PDP counterpart, Mr. Jimi Agbaje.
The PDP candidate appears to be drawing strength from the huge support of some non-indigene voters in the state for the party, which manifested during the presidential elections in which the two parties almost split the votes equally.
The recent outrage that trailed a statement by the traditional ruler of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, threatening the Igbo in the state to vote for the APC candidate or perish in the Lagoon, has also raised the stakes in the election.
Rivers State remains one to watch in the election, as both the PDP and APC in the state appear bent on emerging victorious. Mr. Dakuku Peterside, who is the governorship candidate of the APC, is backed by the incumbent, Governor Chibuike Amaechi, while his opponent in the PDP, Nyesom Wike is believed to have the backing of the presidency.
The run-up to the elections in the state has been characterised by violence, with several people killed. The state has been listed by the National Human Rights Commission, to be one of the flashpoints in this election, alongside Lagos, Kaduna and some other states.
Kaduna State has former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, of the APC seeking to unseat Mr. Mukhtar Yero of the PDP. The state is known for a history of electoral violence, the worst of which occurred in 2011 following the announcement of the presidential election which was won by the PDP.
Mr. El-Rufai comes into the race with his pedigree as the FCT minister who carried out much of the tranformation that has taken place in the nation’s capital, Abuja.
While, Mr. Mukhtar is expected to capitalise on the power of incumbency to retain his seat in the election, his opponent, Mallam El-Rufai is also touted to ride on the wave of his popularity and eloquence to put up a good fight in the poll.