Apathy, logistics problems as Lagos, Ogun hold LG polls

JULY 25, 2021

By Emmanuel Oladesu, Deputy Editor; Tajudeen Adebanjo and Ernest Nwokolo, Abeokuta

  • APC: Elections peaceful; ALGON president, others hail LASIEC

  • Ogun PDP boycott is to save face, says Abiodun

The councillorship and chairmanship elections held in Lagos and Ogun states on Saturday were marred by low turnout and logistic problems.

The elections were conducted in 20 local governments and 37 local council development areas in Lagos State as well as 20 councils and 236 wards of Ogun State.

There were however a few exemptions to the apathy of voters with huge turnouts in some councils, including Epe, Yaba, Ikorodu, Ibeju and Eti-Osa in Lagos State as well as Odeda Local Government and parts of Abeokuta in Ogun.

There were also problems of malfunctioning of card-readers at many polling stations.

Many of the polling units visited by The Nation went for manual checking of the voters to hasten the exercise.

Security men were up and doing across the polling units. Also, electoral officers were punctual and alive to their electoral duties.

In all the polling units visited by our correspondents, COVID-19 protocols were observed, with water for hand washing and sanitisers provided for eligible voters.

Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who spoke with reporters after voting at Polling Unit 019, Femi Okunnu/Lateef Jakande, Ward 09 Ikoyi II, Eti-Osa Local Government Area, promised to continue to make life better for Lagosians.

The governor, who was accompanied by his wife, Dr. Ibijoke, arrived at 11:03am and voted at 11:08am.

He said the recent upgraded and rehabilitated network of roads, comprising Thompson Avenue, Milverton Road, MacDonald and Lateef Jakande Road in Ikoyi, Eti-Osa Local Government Area, is a reflection of what is happening in all the local government areas in Lagos State.

Sanwo-Olu commended Lagosians for participating in the council polls and promised that the state would increase voters’ education and enlightenment to ensure robust participatory democracy.

He noted that though people were on the queue, the turnout for the local government elections could be better as the local government level remains the closest to the people.

He said the beauty of democracy is for people to elect their representatives through free and fair elections.

Sanwo-Olu added: “I observed about four polling booths on my way to my polling unit. I would not say they are crowded polling booths, but it seems to me that things are going on peacefully.

“The reports I have gotten so far in the last two hours is that things are going as expected. We are expecting that everything will go on smoothly, free and fair to all eligible voters.

“This is about the only time when we can express ourselves freely and openly.

“Talking about low percentage of voters, it is a reflection of the society. We need to encourage more participation and increase advocacy for the citizens.

“All the infrastructure and logistics have been provided by the Government. It is really for our citizens to come up and express themselves. So, it is work in progress; that is the beauty of democracy.

“For some other countries that we follow, they have been on it for over 200 years and you will see that there is never an election where you have 100 per cent, but you continue to improve on the advocacy and everybody has a role to play.

“This is another clarion call for our people to come out and express themselves willingly.”

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) lauded voters for shunning unruly behaviours during the exercise.

It observed that the elections were free, fair, transparent, credible and peaceful.

A party elder and member of the APC Governance Advisory Council, Cardinal James Odunmbaku, lauded voters for coming out to exercise their franchise in Ojodu Council.

After voting at his Akiode Ward, he said that APC would continue to maintain its dominance in Lagos because it is the party of the people.

Odunmbaku praised the former Lagos State Governor Bola Tinubu for creating additional councils, thereby expanding the structures for grassroots governance.

He said since the local government is the closest to the people, council poll is the most important.

The APC chairmanship candidate for Ojodu Council, David Olusegun Odunmbaku, explained that council polls are vital because every politics is local.

He praised the voters for trooping out to vote, promising not to let them down. Exuding confidence, he said APC would win the 57 councils.

The APC candidate said: “So far, so good, the exercise has been peaceful. Everybody is making use of their democratic opportunity to perform their civic duty. The feedback we have got from our coordination showed that it was impressive.

“We have really mobilised for this election, campaigning in all the nooks and corners of the council. That is why we know that victory is assured.”

Acknowledging the poor turnout, House of Assembly member Rotimi Abiru (Somolu 2) called for enhanced voter education ahead of 2023 general elections.

He spoke with reporters after voting at Polling Unit 030 in ward E, Mabinuori Daudu Street, Bariga.

The lawmaker noted that the apathy that characterised the polls was worrisome.

He said: “We need to do more on voters’ enlightenment for the electorate to understand their important civic role in the democratic process.”

He however, observed that voting is important than aloofness, adding that criticising the government at the corner of the house instead of voting to choose credible leaders to run public affairs may not produce the desired results.

Abiru lauded LASIEC for conducting free, fair and peaceful polls.  He also praised Sanwo-olu for demonstrating responsive leadership.

National President of Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Kolade Alabi, described the poll as free and peaceful.

Alabi, who is also Bariga Council Chairman, hailed LASIEC for a good outing and urged them to improve more on voters’ awareness.

Nigerians, he said, must ensure they always come out to exercise their rights.

“As a government, we will work more on advocacy to enlighten our people to know what is expected of them on election.

“The youths who are 18 and above should know that the day was not meant for playing football. They should troop to their polling units to exercise and on our own part, we will continue to sensitise them,” he said.

His Itire/Ikate Local counterpart Ahmed Apatira, said the election was orderly and peaceful.

“Where the card reader was malfunctioning, they use manual for voting. Though, there was low turn, we can only advise our people to come and vote,” he said.

He said APC would sweep the poll.

Vice Chairman of APC in Lagos State Hakeem Bamgbola, said he was impressed with the activities of the LASIEC officials as the conduct of the elections went smoothly.

Bamgbola, a Commissioner with the state Local Government Service Commission, said the exercise was peaceful and well-coordinated.

“Security has been very good and it will continue that way. We do not envisage any problem throughout the elections today,” he said.

Chief Executive Officer of Drain Duck, Akeem Apatira, canvassed the introduction of absentee balloting whereby people can vote before the day of election.

“Once you are able to do that, then people will vote definitely and voter apathy will be reduced to barest minimum.

“You see, people don’t have interest in voting; they don’t see reason coming out on the day of election to vote but they don’t mind putting the vote in the mail and sending it to you; that way, it will end voter apathy,” Apatira said.

Chairman of Coker-Aguda LCDA Omobolanle Akinyemi-Obe, who voted around 9am, hailed LASIEC for starting the exercise early and ensuring orderliness.

Akinyemi-Obe, who has served her two terms in office, enjoined people to always turn out for voting.

“I want to encourage those that are at home to come out to vote and be orderly. Here in my council, there is no record of violence; everything is going on smoothly.

“We thank God for everything that is happening. Though some card readers are faulty but the Electoral Officer here has got a team of experts that are trying to get them working,” she said.

APC Chairmanship Candidate in Coker-Aguda LCDA Razaq Lekan Ibrahim, said the election was calm and peaceful.

“Since the commencement of the poll, there has been no report of violence. As for the turn out, people are still coming out, and we encourage them to come more,” Ibrahim said.

Ojokoro LCDA Chairman Hammed Tijani, who cast his vote at Polling Unit 16, Ward F on Shobo Street, lauded the early arrival of LASIEC officials.

Tijani predicted victory for the APC.

Surulere Local Government APC Chairmanship Candidate Bamidele Sulaimon Yusuf, described the election as peace.

He stated that there were large turnout in some of the wards and low turnout in other areas.

He said in some polling units, LASIEC officials arrived late while they came early in some of the wards.

Winners’ll be announced at collation centres — LASIEC Chairman

Chairman of the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) Justice Ayotunde Phillips (rtd) yesterday said the turnout of voters was satisfactory, but not excellent.

Addressing reporters after monitoring exercise, she said the exercise voting would not be extended beyond 3 p.m. as scheduled.

She admitted that the commission had not done enough on voter sensitisation, and will definitely do more.

On some challenges on the field, she said that the commission had a situation room in LASIEC addressing problems as they occur.

She said: “The response is very low. There is still a lot of voter apathy. However, in the Yaba area, it was explained to me that a lot of people are new residents and they have not registered in their new residence. That was why they could not vote.

“May be when INEC updates the voter register, we will have a better response.

“Very few of the polling units opened at 8 a.m. as they were supposed to. Most of them opened between 8:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., which I have noted.

“A lot of administrative hiccups here and there. Largely, at least, we are here now, and people, who want to vote, are voting. So far, it is satisfactory. It is not excellent or good, but it is satisfactory.”

Justice Phillips said winners of chairmanship elections would be declared at the Local Government collation centres, while winners of the councillorship polls would be declared at the ward collation centres.

“For the chairmanship candidates, results will be declared at the local government levels, while for the councillors, it is going to be at the ward level. We don’t announce results in LASIEC,” the chairman said.

She said the results were projected to start turning in by Sunday afternoon.

Apathy as Ogun holds peaceful LG polls

Low turnout of voters and late arrival of election materials in some places characterised the Local government election held into 20 councils and 236 wards of Ogun State on Saturday.

In some wards in Odogbolu local government area, reluctant voters were literally persuaded to come out and begged to go exercise their franchise before they could leave their homes.

Our correspondent observed that officials of the State Independent Electoral Commission (OGSIEC) arrived some of the polling units late while there was late arrival of election materials amid low turnout of voters in Abeokuta South.

However, some parts of Abeokuta, the capital city, and Odeda Local Government witnessed large turnout of voters.

In Iperu, the hometown of Governor Dapo Abiodun in Ikenne Local Government Area of the state, residents were sighted going about their normal businesses unmindful of the election.

At the Abeokuta-Sagamu Expressway, a detachment of security operatives, comprising military officers, police, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and Amotekun corps had a hectic time enforcing the restriction of movement order of the state government as passengers and motorists struggled to enter or leave the state.

As at 10.30 am when our correspondent arrived the Ita-Osanyin, ward 3, unit 2 where the governor later cast his vote, only 98 voters were on queue out of the 826 registered voters in the unit.

Similar experience was observed in Ogun West Senatorial district, comprising of five local governments, where residents felt unconcerned about the polls and went about other activities.

In ward 2, Ayetoro area of the local government, voters were seen strolling into polling units in few numbers to cast their vote.

An observer with the Civil Society Organisation (CSO), Dr. Abdullahi Muhammad Jabi, attributed the voters’ apathy to low awareness of the importance participating in leadership selection process.

He said: “For the areas we have covered so far, it has been peaceful. But there seems to be apathy. You have a polling unit or a ward of almost 1,000 registered voters and as of the time we visited there, only about 10 voters had been accredited and voted.

“That is to say that the turnout is very, very low, but that does not foreclose that they may not come. As at the time we were capturing them, the turnout was very low.”

PDP boycotts meant to save face, says Abiodun

Governor Dapo Abiodun on Saturday taunted the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for its purported boycott of the local government election in the Ogun State, saying the party backed off at the eleventh hour to save face from the shame of defeat.

Abiodun who lauded the State Independent Electoral Commission (OGSIEC) for organising a hitch-free polls, wondered how PDP could boycott an election where it is a participant, saying the party is a victim of its own schism.

The governor spoke after casting his vote at Ita Osanyin Ward 3, unit 2, Iperu-Remo, Ikenne Local Government Area of the state.

He, however, noted that the local government elections was a referendum on his administration’s performance in the last two years, expressing the confidence that the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidates would emerge victorious.

He said his administration has redefined the face of local administration in Ogun State unlike what was the situation in the past, adding that his administration would give the deserved autonomy to the local councils to thrive.

Abiodun said the manner he is handling local government administration is better today, saying it was like day and night compared to the last administration.

“From what I have seen so far and from the reports that I have had, the elections are going peacefully across the length and breadth of the state,” he said.


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