Nigerian President`s state votes amid security

Nigeria`s 36 state governors are some of the most powerful politicians in Africa`s most populous nation.

Yenagoa: Nigerians voted amid tight security in a governorship election on Saturday in President Goodluck Jonathan`s restive and oil-rich home state of Bayelsa, where last week militants attacked a major oil pipeline.

Nigeria`s 36 state governors are some of the most powerful politicians in Africa`s most populous nation, in some cases controlling budgets larger than other African countries and gubernatorial elections can stoke violence.

At least one person was killed and several injured at a pre-election rally on Tuesday in the southern Ijaw region in Bayelsa, witnesses said.

"Ten thousand to 15,000 policemen are deployed for the election, these include anti-bomb squads from Delta, Edo and Rivers states to ensure that all key points are saved," said Chris Olakpe, Bayelsa`s police commissioner.

"We are going to effectively police all polling booths and normal patrols would go on to ensure miscreants do not hijack the process," added Olakpe, who took up his position this week.

Even with a huge police and military presence it will be difficult to guard all ballot boxes in Bayelsa, where thousands of kilometres (miles) of labyrinthine creeks weave through swamplands, sitting on top of billions of dollars of crude oil.

"Soldiers, police are all over so I`m hopeful there will be no problem of shooting, killing, burning of houses and all that," said John Masi, a 35-year old labourer.

"I want the new governor that will be elected today to quickly construct the new university so I can get work to do and make money to get out of this wooden shack and have a better life for my wife and two children."

Bayelsa is one of the three Nigerian states that make up the oil rich Niger Delta, where militant gangs held the government to ransom for years by sabotaging pipelines and stealing industrial amounts of oil until an amnesty in 2009.

Attacks have been rarer and less destructive since the amnesty but they still occur. Last week the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), formerly Nigeria`s main militant threat, claimed a strike on a pipeline owned by Italian firm Eni, which confirmed 4,000 barrels per day of output had been cut by the attack.

Bureau Report

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