Three takeaways from Nigeria's 2023 governorship races

Mar 20, 2023|Fadekemi Abiru

On Saturday, March 18th, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) kicked off Gubernatorial and State House of Assembly elections across Nigeria. Gubernatorial elections were held in 28 states, while 993 State Assembly elections were conducted nationwide.

You can find comprehensive results from the 2023 Nigerian General Elections at, including:

  • Gubernatorial election results at state-level

  • Gubernatorial election results at local government level

  • Presidential results at state-level

  • Presidential results at local government level

  • Senate results

  • House of Representatives results

Here are three key takeaways from Nigeria’s 2023 Gubernatorial elections.

1. IREV delivers at last

The performance of the INEC result viewing portal (IREV) has been markedly better compared to the presidential elections. As of 8.44 am on Sunday, 19th March, 18 hours after polls closed in many parts of the country, an average of 77% of polling units in the 28 states with governorship races were uploaded. By 4 pm, that number had risen to 86%.

In contrast, less than 10% of presidential election results had been uploaded to the portal the morning after polls had closed for the February 25th elections. This should go some way to making the governorship elections less contentious than the presidential elections, which have seen the two major opposition parties head to the courts.

Already, we have 10 out of 28 states and 293 out of 609 local governments reporting. These represent all the publicly available results at the time of writing this email (3 am on Monday, March 20th). 

The map below shows the distribution of gubernatorial seats. ​​​​​



So far, it appears the APC/PDP duopoly status quo has been maintained at the governorship elections. A stark contrast from the more diverse electoral outcome we saw from the February 25th presidential election.



2. Voter suppression in Lagos

Reports of delays and violent disruptions (at least one death has been confirmed) across the country has been a key theme of the March 18 elections.

In Abia State, INEC confirmed that the results collation process at the Obingwa Local Government Area office was disrupted when thugs invaded the registration areas in the local government.

Lagos also deserves a special mention.

In the early hours of this morning, INEC officially declared Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the APC the Governor-Elect of Lagos State. The APC candidate won 19 out of 20 LGAs (losing the Amuwo-Odofin LGA to Labour Party) and received a total of 762,134 votes across the state.

In 2019, APC got 76% of the total vote share compared to the runner-up, PDP (21%). In 2023, APC got 65% of the vote, while LP (the runner-up) got 27% of the vote. This leaves the APC with a smaller vote margin compared to the 2019 election.



However, data from the Lagos state collation centre highlights the impact of voter intimidation, violence and disruption on turnout in the state election. The Amuwo-Odofin LGA is a perfect case study here.

Our live blog coverage noted the stark drop in turnout between the presidential and gubernatorial elections in this particular LGA. In absolute terms, voter turnout dropped from 72,901 to 54,763 votes case, and in proportional terms, turnout dropped from 22% to 17%.

This is the largest turnout drop in any LGA in Lagos (turnout went from 3rd highest in Lagos to the 11th highest). Disruptions and over-voting led to vote cancellations in 30 polling units (the highest number of LGA cancellations in Lagos state). The PVCs attached to these 30 PUs are equivalent to 20% of the final vote count in Amuwo-Odofin.

It’s important to note that Amuwo-Odofin LGA was a stronghold for the Labour Party at the presidential election (Peter Obi received 76% of the total vote count compared to Tinubu’s 18.2%).



While the Labour Party still won in Amuwo-Odofin for the gubernatorial races, the APC’s performance improved even though fewer votes were cast—from 18% to 32% in the LGA.



The results point to evidence that physical violence, thuggery, and intimidation, largely targeted at ethnic groups perceived to be foreigners in the state, suppressed the number of votes eventually cast in the LGA.

Amuwo-Odofin is in Lagos West Senatorial District, the district with the highest concentration of Igbo communities in Lagos (45% of Lagos-West households are Igbo).

In summary, voter turnout remains a key determinant of electoral outcomes. Any drop in turnout can either be a direct result of apathy or voter suppression. In the case of the Lagos state elections, outright voter suppression tactics by multiple actors depressed turnout.

3. Will Adamawa produce Nigeria’s first female governor? 

20 out of the 21 Local Government Areas have been reported in Adamawa state. The top two contenders are the APC and PDP candidates that have received a total of 365,798 and 401,115 votes, respectively. 

Adamawa state was a key race to watch at Stears, given the APC candidate, Senator Aishatu Dahiru, is one of this year’s 25 female gubernatorial candidates. As the Senator for Adamawa Central, she was considered one of the likelier female victors. A win for her would see Nigeria elect its first female governor. All the declared gubernatorial winners in this election cycle have been men so far. The PDP candidate, Governor Ahmad Fintiri is an incumbent and is currently in the lead by a considerable margin.



Can Senator Aishatu Dahiru pull off an unlikely upset at the eleventh hour?
The Adamawa collation centre is slated to resume at 12 pm on Monday, March 20th. We expect the results of the final LGA, Fufore, to be announced.

You can follow this key race and others on the Stears Elections site.