Nigerian state holds governor polls amid security
2/11/2012 1:50:00 PM -
LAGOS (AFP) - Nigeria on Saturday deployed thousands of police for a governor's election in Bayelsa, the oil-rich home state of President Goodluck Jonathan that has been wracked by pre-vote violence.
"We have fortified every area of the state to ensure a hitch-free election. Some 10,000 police personnel and 5,000 other security agents have been deployed," Bayelsa state police spokesman Equavoen Emokpae told AFP.
The volatile state has seen a series of bombings and shootings among rival politicians in recent months.
"You know this is the home state of the president and he is around to exercise his civic right and nothing should be allowed to derail the process," he said.
An AFP reporter in Otuoke said Jonathan and his wife Patience voted in his home town amidst tight security with the president expressing satisfaction with the conduct of the election.
"The exercise has been very calm and in the whole state I have not heard of any ugly incident, everywhere is calm and am quite pleased," he said.
"I am very hopeful that the votes of the citizens will count and clearly manifest in this election," he added.
A spokesman for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had earlier said both materials and personnel had been deployed to the eight local government areas of the state for the crucial poll.
"On our part, we have done everything possible to ensure that the election goes on without problems," Kayode Idowu told AFP.
"Accreditation of voters started at 8:00 am and is progressing. Voting will commence from noon and ends when every accredited voter on queue has voted," he said.
Idowu said some 35 candidates would vie for the governorship, including Henry Seriake Dickson of Jonathan's ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP).
Local media speculated that Dickson was the favourite as 25 of hopefuls had stepped down for him.
Bayelsa is among five states which did not hold governorship election in April 2011 because of a court ruling that extended the tenure of the incumbents.
The PDP is now in charge of 24 of Nigeria's 36 states. The ruling party was in control of 27 states before the April vote.
The result of the presidential election won by Jonathan, a Christian from the southern oil-producing region, sparked rioting in northern Nigeria that left at least 800 people dead, according to Human Rights Watch.