By Uche Mbah
The Governorship and state Assembly elections has been marred by arguably the worst voter apathy ever experienced in the history of elections in the country, fueling speculations on vote of no confidence in the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
In many polling units visited by this Magazine, INEC staff and and the corp members were sleeping due to lack of voters. In some places, some people were going from house to house using bells to urge people to please come out and vote. In some units at Egbeda in Akowonjo Local Council Development, some people were threatening to go and force PHCN to switch off electricity so that people will stop watching television in their houses to come and vote. Reports from all over the country shows a repeat of the same in a more or less details.
“The turn out of voters is not as much as that of the presidential and NASS elections”, Abdusalam Abubakar, former Military head of state and Chairman of peace committee was reported to have said after casting his vote in Niger state. “ I don’t know why, but maybe people are tired and feel disenfranchised the last time they came out to vote”.
A Lagos resident, Emmanuel Jimoh, said he did not go out to vote because he knows his vote will not count. “INEC should simply announce the result. Afterall, we voted last time and they announced figures they cooked up. I wont waste my time again”, he said. Emmanuel was playing football on a deserted road with his friends.
Many see the election as a referendum on INEC performance, whose tardiness in the presidential elections has put citizens off patriotism.
Besides low turnout of voters, the elections appeared to be generally peaceful.
But in the South east and South south region, despite heavy presence of security agencies, reports of thuggery, ballot box snatchings are being reported. There were reports of thugs imported from Edo state being apprehended, and in some cases, jungle justice were reportedly meted to them. Thugs are reportedly having a free reign. In Ogbomosho, thugs reportedly were forcing voters to vote for the ruling party.
In Lokoja, Kogi state, heavy shootings were reported during the elections.
In Port Harcourt, a woman gave birth to a baby boy after voting.
In Ojota area of Lagos, voting did not take place because INEC staff were protesting non payment of their allowances till around 3 pm.
In Ekiti state, in Ifaki Ekiti, there was reportedly altercation between PDP voters and some thugs who insisted that everybody vote the All Progressives congress. This resulted in the few people that came deserting the polling units