KEBBI AGLOW IN SOLIDARITY FOR OWN SON, JEGA
Before the announcement of the shift in the elections, all activities virtually came to an end in Birni Kebbi. The streets were deserted, empty of human and vehicular activities save for the presence of military personnel on the streets, who were there to enforce the no movement directive. However, the polling centres were another matter altogether.
Most of them were teeming with crowds who turned up in their large numbers to vote. It seemed as if the entire town emptied itself into the polling centres. This was not only the case in Birni Kebbi, capital of the state. Other neighbouring towns like Jega, Argungu, Aliero amongst others witnessed an unprecedented high number of voters.
What made the election particularly interestingly was the high turnout from the elderly members of the community to vote. Unlike before, it appears as if these elderly citizens decided not to stand back and watch the whole thing as they are wont to do before. It didn't matter that some of them well into their 70s and that they could hardly read or write. Under the scorching sun and even in the face of an unyielding crowd, they were determined to cast their vote. The reason for this is could be attributed to the high level of awareness and enlightenment that has trailed the campaigns of the various parties. Indeed, it does appear that the political parties, in their quest to leave no stone unturned, were reaching out to the electorate irrespective of their age and social status.
According to Mallam Idris Abdul, a farmer who was voting for the first time in his life, he said he was going to vote because of the visits he received from representatives of one of the parties. 'They have been coming to meet me in my house. They came to talk to us and they told us the importance of us participating in the elections. So I must vote. We will not stay behind and allow bad politicians to hijack the whole thing. Now, we know the importance of voting and we are not going to be left behind,' he said speaking through an interpreter. By 'them', the 70 year old farmer is referring to the Congress of progressive Change Party, CPC. Another of the voter, who simply gave his name as Usman expressed disappointment that the voting exercise could not go on as planned.
He is however confident that the elections will still go on. After-all, according to him, Attahiru Jega, INEC's chairman is an indigene of the state. 'Jega is one of us and he is not going to disappoint us. That is why I came to vote,' he said. Yet another of them is Mallam Bashiru Atiru. With his face, a mask of creases, this farmer and almost bent double with age, he said he arrived the voting centre early in the morning and inspite of the delay, he insists that he will not leave until he has cast his vote.
Interestingly, these elderly voters appear split in their decision between voting for the ruling PDP and the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, in the National Assembly seats and gubernatorial elections. When Daily Sun spoke to a number of them during botched the election, most of them didn't even know that the elections would be staggered. They thought that the election was going to end on that one day. Daily Sun also gathered that religion would play a major role in their voting though this may not count for much as Kebbi is a predominantly Muslim State. But as for the Presidential Elections, it is a different matter altogether since president Jonathan is a Christian. It does appear that Jonathan will not be getting their votes.
However, for the younger voters, it is a mixed bag. A new and more progressive generation appears to be emerging amongst the younger generation. They are a generation that refuses to be swayed by religious or tribal sentiments. Twenty four years old Abdul Kando is one of them. Abdul Kando has vowed to cast his vote for the PDP in all the positions being contested. 'I am voting for the PDP. Governor Nasamu has done well enough. I will vote him and others in the PDP. I will also vote President Jonathan because I like him,' Abdul says. Abdul is a student of the Waziri Umuru Federl Polytechnic, at Birni kebbi. He is studying Electrical and Electronic engineering.
He feels that people that would vote because of tribal and religious sentiments are being deceived. 'If the person can do the job, then let us vote that person in. Politicians are just using religion to deceive the people. I will vote for Jonathan. It doesn't matter that he is a Christian from the South. Twenty four years old Idris Abubakar is also a staunch supporter of the ruling party. He also intends to vote the PDP throughout the elections. He also agrees that the tribal and religious sentiments must be kept out of politics.
Ibrahim Atiru is yet another voter. The 24 year old farmer says he will vote in the PDP candidates except during the presidential elections. 'I vote for CPC for president,' he said in his smattering English. His reason is simple: Buhari, Muslin,' he states. As for the elections proper, it appears to be a straight fight between the ruling PDP and the CPC. While Governor Saidu Nasamu Dakingari has his supporters, it does appear as if the PDP is running out of time. They have to contend with the rising profile of the Congress of Progressive Change, which is supported by the indefatigable Senator Adamu Aliero. A former governor of the state and also a former Senator. Senator Adamu Aliero is said to hold the keys to where the election will swing.
Though he is also in the race to secure the Kebbi Central Senatorial zone, he is very much interested in who becomes Governor of the state. It is no secret that the seasoned politician has fallen out with the governor, whom he helped install. The schism between both the Governor and the Senator led to the latter pitching his tent in the CPC from the PDP which he originally belonged. Now Aliero has thrown his weight behind his party's candidate, Abubakar Shettima Malam.
And as the day goes by, it appears as if the CPC following is gathering more steam. While it is not clear whether the CPC will carry the day, what is for certain is that the CPC is certain a tough nut that the PDP would have to crack if they are to remain relevant in the state. According to feelers, a cloud of despondency descended on the state house as PDP chieftains in the state fear that the election may signal their exit from government. According to a source, from the little voting that were done before the cancellation of the April 2nd elections, the CPC, was clearly carrying the day.
In addition, Daily Sun gathered that some former supporters of the PDP lost interest in the party because some of the party's chieftains were urging the people to vote for the party in all other positions except the presidential elections. 'They are angry because the party seems not to be united,' the source said.
While attention has been shifted to the elections scheduled to begin on tomorrow, the Independent National Electoral Commission would have do better to ensure a seamless elections. Apart from the late arrivals of electoral materials to the polling centers, the NYSC members drafted in to assist INEC appeared overwhelmed by the sheer crowd of voters that turned up for the exercise.
While some of the voters turned up as early as 6 '0 clock, they had to wait until 10'0clock before the accreditation of the voters kicked off. Even when the exercise finally kicked off, the process was so slow that some people were becoming restive. It took the intervention of the security personnel in the centres led by the Police and other security agencies to maintain calm in the voting centres.