Nigeria's Lagos governor endorsed for second term

LAGOS Thu Jan 6, 2011 10:54am EST

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LAGOS (Reuters) - Nigeria's Lagos state governor has been endorsed to run for a second term by his party, ending speculation that rivals might try to force him from what is arguably the most important political job outside the capital.

Babatunde Fashola will be the sole candidate for the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) party at the state governorship polls on April 13, party spokesman Lai Mohammed said. The party has run the state since Nigeria's return to democracy in 1999, and its official candidate is not expected to face a serious rival.

Governorship elections are being held in all 36 of Nigeria's states a week after its presidential election, set to be the most fiercely contested in more than a decade.

Lagos state is the commercial hub of Africa's most populous nation, and includes the sprawling city of Lagos, home to an estimated 17 million people.

It is rare among Nigeria's states in generating 70 percent of its revenue internally from taxation and public services such as buses. Most of the country's states depend on their share of federal oil revenues in the OPEC member nation.

Fashola is widely popular in Lagos for his efforts to reduce once notoriously high levels of crime, establish a working public transport system and improve infrastructure.

He has impressed foreign investors by successfully tapping Nigeria's domestic debt markets to fund development.

The state government is in the middle of a 275 billion naira ($1.8 billion) bond issuance program, funds which are partly being used to upgrade a main road into an expressway with bus routes and pedestrian walkways and fund a light rail project.

However, he also has enemies. Local newspapers have in the past reported a rift with his predecessor Bola Tinubu, who remains a powerful figure in the ACN. Some factions in the state assembly tried to impeach him last year over allegations of misappropriation of funds.

Lagos is one of the main strongholds of the opposition to the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP), which dominates Nigerian politics at the national level.

(Editing by Peter Graff)

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