(Bloomberg) --

A former head of the Nigerian central bank was elected governor of a restive state in the southeast of the country, a disappointing result for the ruling political party.

The Independent National Electoral Commission, or INEC, on Wednesday declared Charles Soludo the winner of an election to select the next governor of Anambra state. He led the Central Bank of Nigeria for five years from 2004.

Soludo, standing for the All Progressives Grand Alliance, beat heavyweight candidates representing the two main national political parties. The APGA has run Anambra since 2006, which is currently the only one of Nigeria’s 36 states without a governor from either the ruling All Progressives Congress or main opposition Peoples Democratic Party.

The election initially took place over the weekend before INEC allowed it to continue on Tuesday to enable voting in areas where polling units didn’t open. Participation, at about 10% of registered voters, was low even by the standards of Anambra, where turnout is traditionally subdued compared to other parts of the country.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s APC had hoped to secure control of Anambra for the first time ahead of nationwide general elections scheduled for early 2023. In the buildup to the vote, multiple state representatives, including the serving deputy governor, defected to the ruling party from the APGA and PDP. Losing candidates often contest INEC’s results in court.

Anambra is one of the southeastern states where the Indigenous People of Biafra, or IPOB, a separatist movement that the government considers a terrorist group, is most active. 

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.