The governorship and House of Assembly elections held across the country, yesterday, were characterised by poor voter turn out.
Except Ondo, Ekiti, Anambra, Osun and Edo states where governorship election did not hold, both polls took place in all the 36 states in the country and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), its candidate in the February 23 presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, blamed the apathy in the polls on alleged rigging in the February 23 presidential and National Assembly elections.
The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, on his part, however, said elections in the southern part of the country had always recorded low turnout. But a team of observers deployed from the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI), both based in the United States (US), said lack of proper electioneering campaigns by candidates involved in yesterday’s polls was responsible for the apathy.
Early results from the elections, yesterday, indicated that the governorship candidate of the APC for Lagos State, Mr Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu; the governorship candidate of the PDP for Enugu State, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; the governorship candidate of the PDP for Delta State, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, and the governorship candidate of the APC for Kwara State, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, were in the lead.
Although the polls were generally peaceful, there were pockets of violence in Oyo, Ebonyi, Ondo, Katsina, Rivers, Delta and Edo States. No fewer than 10 persons were reportedly killed. In Ebonyi State, suspected thugs attacked the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Ezza North local government area, setting it on fire.
Reports from Rivers State said a former Chairman of Andoni Local Government Area, Mrs Emilia Nte, was feared killed at Egindem by gunmen suspected to belong to the same gang who, in the February 23 elections, murdered another former Chairman of the LGA, Mowan Etete, and three others. In Delta State, suspected thugs hijacked voting materials while officials of some parties were injured in some parts of the state. Masked man set ablaze electoral materials at Usagbe Primary School, Ogbido in Etsako Local Government Area of Edo State.
Other highlights of the elections include the seizure of two cars reportedly conveying ballot papers in Kano State while the governorship candidate of a major political party in Benue State was reportedly caught with a bag full of cash. In Zamfara State, the APC was reportedly not on the result sheets for the polls. INEC attributed the development to court rulings on the internal crisis in the state chapter of APC. In Enugu State, the police confirmed the killing of a local election observer by stray bullets fired by a policeman to disperse a group of protesters.
Reports from Katsina said two security agents were killed while 20 electoral officials were abducted. It was the same tragic situation in Ondo State where two persons were confirmed dead following a failed attempt to attack a collation centre in Oba Akoko in Akoko South-West area of the state. The police said 20 hoodlums had been arrested in connection with the incident.
Meanwhile, reports from Bauchi State said Governor Muhammad Abdullahi Abubakar lost his polling unit to the PDP candidate, Bala Muhammad, in yesterday’s elections.
In Lagos, voters’ apathy was the order of the day, yesterday, as voters elected a new governor and members of the state House or Assembly and some House of Representatives members. Voting did not start early in many locations as electoral officers arrived at about 11.30 am in places like Iba Estate, Igbo-Elerin, Ishashi, among others. Ad-hoc electoral officers were protesting non-payment of allowances for the postponed Presidential and National Assembly polls. Meanwhile, some youths were wielding canes intimidating non-indigenes in Iba Estate and Ipaye in Iba LCDA as early as 7.30 am, forcing some would-be voters to shun the exercise.
This was worsened by the late arrival of electoral officers. In spite of heavy security and movement restrictions in most parts of Lagos State, particularly areas like Okota, where ballot boxes and polling units were set on fire during the February 23, polls, many voters elected to stay indoors. Again, some youths chose to play soccer on the streets or watch English premiership soccer matches at restaurants. There were stern – looking army officers along several roads as early as 7.00 am. At some of the polling units visited, only few voters were seen casting their votes in a more peaceful atmosphere than the February 23, election in the state.
Our correspondents gathered that the voter’s apathy was not unconnected with the outcome of the presidential and National Assembly election of February 23. Lagosians who spoke to newsmen said Nigerians were tired of voting and their votes not counting at the end of the exercise. The low turnout of voters was so bad that by 12 noon, voters were not seen in most of the polling units except party agents and some interested party supporters. At polling unit 029, Okota, in Oshodi – Isolo Local Government Area, there was no voter on sight. It was gathered that a few voters registered at the polling unit, and had come in the morning to vote.
An INEC official who spoke to journalists at the polling unit confirmed the low turnout of voters compared with the presidential election. He noted that although some voters came in the morning, they were yet to have anything near the number of voters they handled in the previous election. “We are yet to understand the reason why people are not coming out. We are still waiting for them until when INEC asks to close for the day. We have, of course, attended to the ones that have come out.”
Also at polling unit 026, Popoola area of Okota, INEC staff were in relaxed mood by 12:30pm waiting for the closing period as there were no more voters. Some of the party agents at the polling units also decried low turnout of voters. At polling unit 028, it was the same situation. INEC officials were sitting idle waiting for voters.
At Ward 021, Ejigbo, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan told newsmen that the election in Ejigbo was peaceful. Reacting to the issue of voters apathy recorded during the election process, he explained that,” the issue might not be unconnected with what played out during the presidential and national assembly elections in February 23, 2019. “The voter-apathy is as a result of the Presidential and National Assembly election, but we are assuring our people that Ejigbo is peaceful”.
In Kosofe, 900 ballot papers meant for the elections were missing at the Kosofe Collation centre, Anglican Nursery and Primary School, Ogudu, where the papers were to be distributed to other units. According to findings, there are 55,000 registered voters in the area which included Kosofe Constituency I and II. According to one of the party agents who spoke to newsmen, Mr Segun Otufuwa of the PDP, narrated that the trouble in the area started when the missing ballots were detected and announced.
“There were two issues that delayed the voting process here. Earlier in the morning INEC ad-hoc staff refused to work because of alleged non-payment of allowances of the postponed Presidential election which they claimed some of their colleagues have collected. “They even alleged that the INEC officers were even negotiating to pay N7,000 instead of the actual amount of N10,000, which the official refused to pay.
Though, the NYSC members were ready to work, their ad-hoc staff colleagues were adamant on their refusal to work. “The two knotty issues were later resolved following intervention by some INEC officers, from the National Headquarters in Abuja, particularly, Mrs Adeyemi Showunmi and the NYSC State Coordinator, Prince Mommoh Muhammed who arrived to attend to the issues.” However, as this was ongoing, tension was getting high, the police hierarchy had to deploy additional security personnel to the area to forestall any possible unrest and break down of law and order. Voting did not start till about 3.30 pm when the election was supposed to be rounding off.
Meanwhile, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, the All Progressives Congress, APC Governorship Candidate, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and his running mate, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, won their polling booths at the polls Babajide Sanwo-Olu, delivered his Polling Unit for his party, saying he is expecting to be victorious when the overall results of the election are officially announced. APC polled 124 votes, while the main opposition PDP garnered 26 votes at the Polling Unit 019, Lateef Jakande Avenue/Femi Okunnu in Ikoyi II. Sanwo-Olu, who arrived at his Polling Unit in company of his wife, Ibijoke, at 10:33am, described the process as “generally peaceful”, despite pockets of delays recorded in some parts of the state.
‘’I think the whole process has been generally peaceful. Reports coming in from our party agents from across the state show that things are going well, but for some areas where they are experiencing minor delays.” he said. Speaking to reporters after he voted, Sanwo-Olu said he was confident of victory, having traversed the length and breadth of the state during the campaign and felt the pulse of the voters.
On what would be his disposition if the result did not favour him at the end of the day, Sanwo-Olu said “The election is never a do-or-die affair for me. I urge voters to engage peacefully and desist from acts that may lead to the cancellation of the results. I believe the outcome will reflect the wishes of the people.” Initially, there were minor hitches when the election started at Sanwo-Olu’s polling unit. A card reader did not function properly, leading to complaints among voters. The INEC technical staff at the unit immediately intervened and reset the malfunctioning card reader. The process went on smoothly thereafter.
Atiku, the presidential candidate of the PDP, attributed the low turn-out of voters in the governorship and state assembly elections to alleged rigging of the presidential poll. Atiku spoke after casting his ballot at the Ajiya Polling Unit 02, Gwadabawa Ward of Yola North Local Government of Adamawa State.
“There is low voter turnout and I believe it’s because of the last election which was marred by a lot of irregularities,” he said. Atiku said the involvement of the military in the election was unconstitutional, urging the electorate to be law-abiding. Speaking on his loss, Atiku said he was committed to challenging the result of the election in court. He called on his supporters to remain calm and await the outcome of the legal action.
Oyo: Rep shot dead two weeks after losing Senate election
In Oyo a member of the House of Representatives representing Lagelu/Akinyele Federal Constituency, Hon Temitope Olatoye Sugar, lost his life two weeks after he lost his bid to move up to the Senate. He died alongside two others following a shooting spree in the course of the governorship and House of Assembly elections in the state. The lawmaker was reportedly shot at Lalupon in Lagelu Local Government area of the state.
The deceased, who was elected to the House of Representatives on the platform of APC, however, defected to the Action Democratic Party, ADP. It was on that platform that he contested for the Oyo Central Senatorial Seat penultimate Saturday. He lost the election. According to a source who witnessed the shooting incident, Sugar was allegedly shot in the head and rushed to the University College Hospital, Ibadan.
Trouble started when the deceased allegedly fired a shot at one of his former boys who refused to decamp to ADP with him. In the process, two other persons were said to have died on the spot. The boy reportedly returned the shot which hit Sugar in the eyes.
When journalists called, Mr Toye Akinrinlola, Head, Public Relations Unit, UCH, said he was at the Intensive care unit of the teaching hospital. Mr Gbenga Fadeyi, the Public Relations Officer of the State Police Command, said he was yet to be briefed on the incident when newsmen called on him.
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