INEC Buys Confidence Through Kogi Polls
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Saturday, fulfilled its promise of holding a peaceful, free and fair governorship election in Kogi State as it did everything possible to ensure the election was not marred with irregularities. The
process leading to the actual exercise also began very early just as the contestants hailed the Commission's handling of the exercise.
Huhuonline.com / had observed that as early as 8:00am, voters across the state had begun to troupe out in order to partake in the exercise which was keenly contested by Capt. Idris Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Abubakar Audu of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), James Ocholi of the Congress of Progressive Change (CPC), Ubolo Okpanachi of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Friday Odia of the Accord Party (AP), Aisha Abubakar Audu, wife of Prince Audu Abubakar and Justice Party (JP) flag-bearer, Ibrahim Tanko of the Labour Party (LP) and Lawal Itopa Lamidi of the Social Democratic Mega Party (SDMP).
INEC gave the figure of registered voters as 1, 333, 312 in 239 wards within 2,548 polling units in 21 Local Government Areas. It also said 7,973 INEC ad hoc staffs were drafted to the state to ensure that the exercise held successfully.
Findings by Huhuonline.com revealed that there was also adequate security in the Lokoja, the state capital just as there was security beef up in other areas that could be volatile like Okene and Adavi Local Government Areas. Every voter was also security conscious as parents closely monitored their wards and children. Though movement was not completely restricted because of travellers between Edo and Abuja, the security officials ensured effective screening of people and vehicles. There was also heavy security presence in Dekina area of the state.
According to situation reports, the Commission started moving election materials by 8.30am and by 9.30am, the materials were in almost all the polling units. Also, accreditation of voters began early enough for the exercise. At Abejikolo in Omala local government, material arrived by 7.00am while accreditation commenced by 8.00am. In some places like Ajaokuta and Okene, it began at 9.00am. But there was a little delay in Ankpa, Kabba and Bassa Local Government Areas. However, in Ajaokuta, the turn-out was at first low, but voters later came out when they were sure of security presence.
Voting actually began by 12.00pm in some areas like Lokoja and Ayetorogbede areas of the state as was scheduled by INEC but there were cases of shortage of INEC ad hoc staff in some polling units in areas like Ajaokuta, Ogori-Magongo, Idah and Okene and this was immediately handled by the Commission through its Resident Electoral Commissioner, Alhaji Ahmad Makama and his colleagues from Plateau and Nasarawa states.
The state Governor, Ibrahim Idris, who cast his vote at Abejukolo, his home town, at exactly 12:43pm, praised INEC for living up to expectation. He also commended the security agencies while he appealed for peace throughout the period of the exercise.
In some areas of the state, voting ended at 4.00pm and counting of ballot papers began immediately.
The ACN candidate and his ANPP counterpart expressed their satisfaction at the conduct of the exercise and praised INEC over the exercise. Abubakar Audu, who spoke after casting his vote in his native Ofu Local Government Area of the state, said he was confident of his party's success at the polls since the people wanted a change. Candidate of the ANPP also said the conduct of the exercise was transparent and that he was certain the election would favour him.
However, the PDP candidate, Captain Idris Wada, refused to speak with anyone on his views of the election even as journalists were prevented from gaining access to him while the exercise lasted. Meanwhile, he had said he would congratulate whoever wins the election if the exercise was transparent.
But his running mate, Architect Abayomi Awoniyi, described the exercise as peaceful, free and fair. Speaking at Mopa in Mopamuro Local Government Area of the state, he confirmed that the exercise was successful adding that there was no delay in its conduct.
Prince Audu's running mate, Barrister Henry Ojuola, who lamented the low turn-out in Kogi West Senatorial District, attributed it to the people's unhappiness at the poor performance of the current government under the PDP.
INEC National Commissioner, Gladys Nne Innewafor, also described the exercise as credible and that the turn-out was impressive. While thanking security agents for their conduct throughout the period of the exercise, she claimed there was no report of ballot snatching as the ballot papers were uniquely customised.
Meanwhile, counting of the ballot papers were still on-going as at the time of filing this report.