For Navigating Nigeria this week, we look at the March 18 governorship elections and some key states to watch out for. While the February presidential and national assembly elections threw up some surprises, it’s anyone’s guess whether the status quo will be restored or if lightning can strike twice.

After a one-week delay, the 2023 governorship elections are upon us. On March 18, 2023, 28 states will vote for their governors. The reason all 36 states are not taking part is due to off-cycle elections. We saw this in Ekiti and Osun last year, where the states held their elections at different times.

The February 25 presidential and national assembly elections had some surprises, with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) losing national assembly seats. For example, in Nasir El-Rufai’s APC-led Kaduna, the PDP won all three senatorial seats. The APC had previously held two of those. The PDP also won ten out of 16 house of representatives seats in the state.

There were also surprising performances by the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) in Kano and the Labour Party (LP) in Lagos. With the governorship elections two days away, it’s anyone’s guess about whether to expect more shocks or if the ruling party will re-strategise to reclaim some scalp. Here are five states to watch out for in the March 18 governorship election.


In Kano, the three leading candidates are Yusuf Abba Kabir of the NNPP, Gawuna Nasir Yusuf of the APC and Wali Mohammed Sadiq of the PDP. The NNPP won 38 out of 44 local governments in the presidential election with 997,279 votes. The APC won the remaining six, polling 517,341 votes. The margin of victory was over 470,000 votes.

The odds are long for the APC, led by the term-limited Abdullahi Ganduje, to retain power. But this is Nigeria, where miracles happen daily.

[Abdullahi Ganduje / Daily Post]

ALSO READ: Kano State 2023 Governorship Elections: Meet the Aspirants


The LP swept through the South-East at the presidential election. In Abia state, currently led by PDP’s term-limited Okezie Ikpeazu, the PDP had a disastrous outing where it only managed 22,676 votes to fall a distant second to the LP, which polled 327,095 votes. Okpezie also lost his bid for the senate, marking a shocking decline in popularity. 

Thirty-six people are vying for the governor’s seat, but the leading candidate is Alex Otti of the LP. If the LP repeats a performance similar to the presidential election, it will become the first time it leads the state.

You can learn more about the Abia governorship election here.


Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri of the PDP is the current governor of Adamawa. Atiku Abubakar of the PDP won the state at the presidential election by a distance, with 417,611 votes to beat his closest challenger, Tinubu, with 182,881 votes. However, the governorship election is likely to be a much tighter affair.

Fintiri is up against Senator Aishatu Binani of the APC. Binani is the first female governorship candidate of a major political party. She clinched the party’s ticket after defeating Nuhu Ribadu, former chair of the EFCC. No small feat as Ribadu was a former presidential candidate in 2011, finishing third with over two million votes.

[Aishatu Binani / The Sun Nigeria]

Binani’s journey hasn’t been rosy. She had to fight to reclaim her mandate after a federal high court nullified the primaries. She remains confident of victory against the incumbent. If she manages to pull it off, she’ll become Nigeria’s first-ever elected female governor. You can read more about her here.


The state, which prides itself as the centre of excellence, will be the scene of a hard-fought contest on March 18. The incumbent, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the APC, is up against Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour (GRV) of the LP and Abdulazeez Olajide Adediran (Jandor) of the PDP. 

[Sanwo-Olu, GRV and Jandor / BBC]

At the presidential election, Obi won Lagos with 582,454 votes, ahead of Tinubu, a former Lagos governor who got 572,606 votes.

The dynamics of the governorship election are different, however. The shock factor the LP had on February 25 is no longer there, and Sanwo has responded by going into overdrive in his campaign.

This one’s hard to call, but a repeat of the February 25 results would be seismic — at the risk of stating the obvious. It would be the first time BAT loses his grip on the state. Lagos is BAT’s prized possession, and while he’s achieved a lifelong ambition by emerging president-elect, it doesn’t look like he’ll let go of Lagos without a fight. 


Without beating about the bush, Rivers was the scene of electoral fraud at the just concluded presidential election. While BAT emerged victorious, there’ve been growing calls for the results to be investigated. That said, the state’s governorship election will be tightly contested. The LP, PDP, APC and Social Democratic Party (SDP) have strong candidates. Nyesom Wike, the state’s outgoing governor, will want to have his say on who emerges as his successor. Will the outcome of the February 25 election repeat itself, or will a different party emerge winner? Your guess is as good as mine.

[Nyesom Wike / Punch]

We’ll be bringing you special coverage of the governorship elections as they happen across the country. To get live updates, join us on how WhatsApp by clicking the image below:



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