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Low Turn Out, Violence, mar guber, state assembly elections

By The Nigerian Voice

Violence, voter apathy and vote-buying marred the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections that took place in the country on Saturday.

Reports from most parts of the country revealed that killings, ballot box snatching and the militarisation of the process militated against the elections.

It was also observed that voter apathy experienced during the February 23 Presidential and National assembly polls was a child’s play when compared with what happened on Saturday.

In Lagos, Katsina, Ogun, the Federal Capital Territory, Edo, Imo, Katsina, Delta, Adamawa and most states across the country, voters stayed away from the polling units.

The reasons for these, observers noted, included violence, military presence, harassment of opposition parties and generally held belief by many that their votes would not count.

For instance, canvassers in some parts of Lagos State including Eric Moore, Itolo Street in Surulere and some areas of Ifako Ijaiye Local Government Area of the state had to resort to using vuvuzela and bells to urge voters to come out and exercise their civic duty.

In some areas, they knocked on the gates of residents to appeal to them to come out and vote.

In Rivers State, the exercise witnessed low turnout of voters while there were reported cases of ballot box snatching.

The exercise, which failed to kick off at most polling units at 9am, was further characterised by heavy deployment of policemen and army personnel in most of the places visited by our correspondents in the state.

In the few places that people managed to turn out to exercise their rights, agents of some political parties wooed voters with money.

This activity went on in the presence of security officials at some places without hindrance.

Similar scenario played out in Katsina State as voter turnout was low, compared to that of the presidential and National Assembly polls.

INEC Presiding Officers and observers admitted the fact of the low turnout.

One of our correspondents, who visited many units in several locations in the state to monitor the elections, observed that the queues were shorter, while at some units, the ad hoc workers of INEC were virtually idle.

For instance, in Malamawa 3 Low Cost Unit in Daura, the Presiding Officer, Mr Kassimu Adamu-Giza, blamed the low turnout on alleged failure by politicians particularly legislators to fulfil their campaign promises.

He explained, “You were here during the presidential election, the turnout was massive. In this one, it is low because people feel the local politicians don’t meet their expectations.

“They think that they are voting for nothing. That is the type of awareness that the voters have here.” – Punch.