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March 9: And some care less about their votes



IT WAS generally observed that the House of Assembly election in Anambra State was marred by voters’ apathy unlike the presidential and National Assembly elections held on 23rd February. In Orumba South Local Government Area of Anambra State, the turnout in all the polling units in the communities was not impressive as people attributed it to the results of the presidential and National Assembly elections.
A community leader, Samuel Osondu said he never expected that the result of the presidential result would de-motivate many voters from the civic obligation. “I am a stakeholder in this town. I went round around telling people to come out and vote for our own good but they felt INEC failed in their duties.
Most of them complained that there is no need voting when their votes will not count. But that’s not the best line to take; we have to keep exercising our franchise. I won’t stop exercising my voting right because of such and I believe that my vote will count.  I strongly believe that one day, things will change for good,” he said.
  National Light observed that election at Amenyi-Awka was affected by voter apathy. At all the polling units in Amenyi quarters comprising Amudo, Ifite, Amachara and Umuzocha, the lines of voters were not as long as it was during  the presidential and National Assembly elections.
Voters trickled out from their homes. Smart card readers were working in the polling units and party agents conducted themselves well without needing the intervention of the security personnel. Unlike the last election, voters who cast their votes did not bother to wait to hear the result as they left the polling units for their homes or other places of need.
Speaking to the National Light, Lazarus Okechukwu, a civil servant, expressed reservation over the poor voters turn-out in the House of Assembly election and attributed the cause to the disappointment of the Igbos in the presidential election which favoured President Muhammadu Buhari.
Okechukwu, however advised that people should perform their civic obligation and the Almighty God would do his part. “I believe that the prayers of Christians would not be in vain since God knows the best. People’s moral should not be dampened; the presidential election has come and gone and the world will see that the electorate did their bit and let history bear witness”.
In his contribution, a trader at Nkwo Amenyi, Chinedu equally expressed reservation on the voter apathy, saying that the number of voters are less than 200 compared to about 600 in the presidential and National Assembly Election.
On the way forward to prevent voter apathy in future elections in the country, Chinedu opined that losers should not resort to violence but proceed to the election tribunal and table their cases with evidences. “He said: “Let the judiciary live up to expectations and give judgments that reflect the truth. With that, the confidence of the electorate will be assured because democracy is the best form of government but there must be rules of engagement as observed in the civilized nations of the world”.
At Mbaukwu and Nibo, it was observed that most shops and markets were seen being opened during the election indicating that most traders exempted themselves from participating in the poll as they went about their normal businesses.
At the Nkwo Market, traders were busy trading. Josephine Okereke who sells vegetables said that vegetable is a perishable thing which one most dispose of that day or it will decay. “I must sell it today otherwise it will spoil. I could not finish the sales yesterday and that is why I decided to come out this early morning to sell it off. After selling, I will now go for the voting. Not that I will not go and vote, I will but that will be later. And if I don’t sell it now, will they give me the money? No!, so I know what I am doing, “she stated.
Also at Eke-Afor Nise and Eke-Nibo, people were engaging in business activities. Some traders and customers took to their heels on sighting security personnel. Ngozi Nwike who sells tomatoes expressed fear of being caught by security. “I am running because I felt that the police may come and forcefully get hold of us or rather destroy our commodities. I decided to go for my business because these politicians protect their own interest too. I am a widow and nobody caters for me and my children.
“And on Saturdays, we make greater sells because there are people who may like to buy some items for their Sunday food preparation and wouldn’t want to come here on Sunday to buy anything. I used to make sales of N7,000 to 8,500. So I don’t want to sacrifice it to something that is not worth it. I sacrificed it on the 23rd of last month when presidential and National Assembly election was conducted. What did we get in return, you know it. “So I don’t want to bother myself with a fruitless exercise again,” she explained.
Others that spoke were, Ginikachukwu Eze, Amarachukwu Udo and Rosemary Chinoso . They pointed out that why they decided not to vote again was because “our votes will not count since after voting, some hoodlums would come and hijack the ballot boxes and nothing will be done about it. “How do you expect us to come out en-mass to vote? No, we are not fools to be toyed with”.
Moreover, in Enugo-Umunono polling units 002 and 003 Nibo ward 2, there was voter apathy but the units were peaceful and calm.
A political stalwart and chief executive officer of Trig Point Hotel, Nibo, Okwuchukwu Ogbuefi who compared House of Assembly to presidential and National Assembly elections observed that there was  serious voter apathy. “You can see everywhere is very scanty. People are going about their normal businesses. They come and go without minding what will happen to their votes because of what has happened before. Most of the mandates were stolen and people were not happy”.
Ogbuefi further revealed that “we heard that some persons were planning to invade the area to snatch the ballot boxes but the security men are here. Though I believe it was just a rumour”.
The Anambra State Head of service, Harry Udu, while  speaking at Community Secondary School 2, Amawbia, after casting his vote said that the turnout was not encouraging. The number one public servant in the state attributed the low turnout to the fact that Anambra State is having only the state House of Assembly election.
Miss Joy, a resident at the Arroma area of Ifite-Awka said the outcome of the presidential and National Assembly elections discouraged her from voting.
In her words, “free and fair elections consist of free, fair and credible elections which are measured by what happened before, during and after the polls. It was obvious that it was compromised”.
Young boys who were of voting age were seen playing football in the field while some women used the opportunity to make sales through displaying their products at polling units and popular road sides while those who sell at home had their shops open.
Mrs. Nkiru, a food seller at one of the polling units visited said she voted in the February election but lost interest in this election because she feels that votes in Nigeria no longer count.
She however added that the low turnout was because there is no governorship election in the state and those who came back from different parts of the country have all gone back and did not return.
At Amansea, Stephen Okorie said he did not vote because INEC was not independent enough.
At Ndiowu, the House of Assembly candidate for APGA, Emeka Aforka, after casting his vote said: “The process is moving smoothly except for some pockets of disturbances involving thugs in some parts from other contestants as they discovered that APGA is having an edge over them”. He observed that the turnout on the previous election was more impressive and attributed the low turnout to the fact that some candidates are not sellable, thereby making their supporters to stay back from the polls but APGA supporters are many. “APGA candidates are sellable, we have the best candidates and our supporters are proud of us”.
Aforka who voted in company of his wife, expressed optimism that he will emerge winner and urged all the eligible voters to come out and exercise their franchise as that is the power they have. He promised to attract democracy dividends to his constituency if he emerged victorious.
At Umunze, Orumba South LGA, Mr. Emeka Okeke, expressed worry over the high level of vote buying and selling regretting that the electorate can mortgage their future because of peanut. At Mgbakwu, Awka South LGA, Mrs Amaka Okafor described the election as free and fair and urged other women in the market to come out and cast their votes. Nnamdi Obi condemned the buying and selling of votes noticed in some polling units. He encouraged people to cast their votes according to their conscience, stressing that Nigeria has come a long way in democracy and people should understand the importance of exercising their franchise.
He condemned the situation where some electoral materials were missing in some polling units and called on INEC to be mindful of their actions. He described the missing materials as fraud on the part of the electoral umpire.
At Ndikerionwu, people were seen about 15 of them, all women at the palm oil factory working, producing and bringing out gallons of palm oil and shops were open. Some people were seen at beer parlors and Uche Nwokike said that INEC was doing their business as we are on our own business.
Appraising the state Assembly elections, the deputy speaker of the Anambra State House of Assembly, Harford Oseke, described the election in Umuawulu as peaceful but decried the low turnout of eligible voters compared to what was obtained in the last presidential elections. He said that he organized town criers to encourage unwilling eligible voters to come out and vote.
The traditional ruler of Umuawulu, Igwe Joel Egwuonwu, described the election in his community as peaceful but recorded low turnout of voters. He made efforts through sensitization to encourage eligible voters to come out and vote. The traditional ruler of Nibo, Dr. M.C Ngene said that he encouraged eligible voters in his community to go and exercise their franchise.
Also, the traditional ruler of Enugwu Ukwu, Igwe Ralph Ekpe, described the election as peaceful and orderly in his community. Archbishop Ephraim Ndife described the election in Umuokpu as hitch free.
A voter in Emene, Enugu East Senatorial District, who preferred to remain anonymous, told our correspondent that he has lost faith in the entire process when his preferred candidate, Hon. Mathias Anike was denied the chance to run for the Enugu East/Isi uzo Federal Constituency election.
According to him, “When Anike was unjustly removed; there was nothing left for me in the whole process. If he was removed through a legitimate means, I wouldn’t have minded. My morale was killed and I hated my party APC for that singular act and since   I did not like PDP or the other parties, I decided to stay at home”.
Another factor that really contributed to the issue of missing voters during the just concluded 2019 polls was the issue of refusal or inability of some registered voters to collect their PVC. In Enugu State for instance, over 33,000 voters’ cards were uncollected and it definitely reduced the number of voters in the state.
An elderly man in Orba in Udenu Local Government Area of Enugu State, Martin Eze told our correspondent that he came out to vote because of the fact that their illustrious son, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi was in the race for his re-election. Eze said that the result of the presidential election dampened his spirit and that of many Nigerians who refused to come out and vote because of the belief that their votes will not count at the end of the process.
“If not because of our governor who is my kinsman and because he had achieved a lot for the people of Enugu State, I would have stayed back at home. What happened during the presidential election is unspeakable. When people are not happy with a system that is what you see, adding that the issue of voter apathy will continue unless the electoral system is reformed, Eze stated.
A teacher in Awgu who spoke on the condition of anonymity said, “Even though I came out to vote because our governor was involved, the electoral system is no longer safe because of rigging, thuggery and vote buying. No voter will be happy that his or her vote did not count after staying several hours under scorching sun.
Again, the reported instances of killings and kidnappings at some polling centres across the country sent fears to the electorate. No one would like to be killed or kidnapped because of election. For the sake of fear, some people decided to stay at home. The issue of vote buying also did not help matters. “There were reports that some politicians came with bags of money to bribe voters in exchange for their votes”.
In Enugu North senatorial zone,  most polling  units visited showed INEC officials, Ad-hoc staff,  security agents and voters performing their civic responsibilities. Sensitive and non-sensitive materials were distributed as early as 8:00am and accreditation of voters and  voting  also started early too. Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi  voted at about 9:35am at his  Amube polling unit,  Orba, Udenu  local government area.
Speaking to newsmen after he had cast his votes, he described the exercise as peaceful and expressed satisfaction with the turnout of voters. The governor thanked the people for their support and added that he owed thanks to God for his blessings.  “The amount of support you all are giving to me is a clear testimony to the fact that you have confidence in my ability to deliver to you all the dividends of democracy. I will not fail you when I come back,” he said.
Meanwhile, Governor Ugwuanyi ‘s closest rival and the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, whose name was omitted from the Ballot papers,  Senator Ayogu Ezeh and some of his  kinsmen of Umuida,  Igboeze North Local Government Area  boycotted the election.
Speaking to newsmen at his residents which was filled with large number of his supporters,  Ezeh said the supporters came to his house as early as 4:30am urging him not to vote.  He said his name was omitted from the INEC’s ballot papers, though the APC logo was there.
The Senator said he will sue INEC for the omission. INEC’s resident commissioner for Enugu State , Dr Emeka Ononammadu in a press briefing,  told newsmen that the commission asked APC to submit their list of governorship candidate since February,  2019, which was not done up till  a day to  the election.
Meanwhile, President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, who spoke to journalists after voting at his polling unit in Ukehe Ward I, disclosed that the election “was very peaceful, very orderly and it typifies the peaceful character of our state”.
At Enugu East Senatorial zone,  there were large turnout in Ekene,  Nike,  Nkanu East and west local government areas. The former governor of old Anambra State and chieftain of the PDP, Senator Jim Nwobodo said that the exercise “has been peaceful” and expressed optimism that “PDP will win with a landslide in Enugu State”.
He applauded Governor Ugwuanyi for the peaceful atmosphere in the state. The elder statesman, who was accompanied to his polling unit by his wife, Pat, said that “our Governor is a man of peace and because he is a man of peace, there is peace everywhere in this election. So, I think it will end in praise”.
Speaking on the elections, the Archbishop of Enugu Ecclesiastical Province, (Anglican Communion) Most Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Chukwuma, commended Gov. Ugwuanyi, INEC and the security agencies for the peaceful conduct of the exercise, maintaining it was “orderly, very much peaceful, free and fair”.
In Enugu West senatorial zone, voting started early and some voters came out to vote. At Mpu, Aninri Local Government Area, the deputy Senate President, Professor Ike Ekweremadu voted in his ward.
Speaking shortly after casting his votes,  he said that Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi deserves nothing short of a landslide victory in the governorship election.
Sadly, tragedy struck at the Umuida residence of the  governorship candidate of  APC,  senator Ayougu Eze, when a young man,  Sunday Odoh was shot on the head inside Senator Eze’s compound.
Police public relations officer, Enugu State police command, SP Ebere Amaraizu, who confirmed the incident, said the man was not an election observer. “The man was not an election observer. He was one of Senator Ayogu Eze’s supporters”.
The PPRO said police had started investigations to look into the circumstances that led to the incident.
Amaraizu disclosed that the man was hit on the head by stray bullet and was rushed to the hospital where the police confirmed him dead.
Sources  said the deceased was a brother to an APC’s House of Assembly candidate,  Okwy Odoh and hailed from Igogoro,  Enugu-Ezike, Igboeze  North Local Government Area of Enugu State.
Reactions on the announcement of the election results
In Enugu State, the incumbent,  Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi was re-elected. Barr. Nana Ogbodo, director of communications,   PDP Campaign organization, expressed gratitude to the people of Enugu state for their immense support to the PDP and all their candidates, saying:
“It is inspiring to note the enthusiasm inherent in your support across the 17 LGAs and 260 Wards. You have by this uncommon gesture challenged His Excellency to surpass even his present very high profile records of achievements when he is inaugurated to commence his second term come May 29th 2019”.
He commended those who contested on other parties ‘ platforms for their faith in the democratic process and for enriching the democratic exercise”.
In Ibadan, Governor Ajimobi said that in the last eight years “we have ensured adherence to the rule of law. We have done a lot to ensure the growth and development of our dear state through our visible unprecedented achievements, as acclaimed by the masses of Oyo State and the outside world.
In a similar development, APC in Oyo State has congratulated Seyi Makinde, the Oyo State Governor elect declared by the INEC. In a statement released by the party’s Publicity Secretary Dr AbdulAzeez Olatunde on Monday, the party congratulated its gubernatorial candidate,
Oloye Bayo Adelabu and the Governor-elect for a good race and a well fought battle at the polls, concluding that an election is not a do or die affair while respecting the declaration of the electoral umpire. The Oyo APC also appreciated its party faithful, supporters and voters in the recent National and
According to the Oyo APC spokesperson, “The elections have come and gone, won and lost and the people of Oyo State have spoken. We respect the INEC declaration of Seyi Makinde as the Governor-elect and wish to congratulate him. Similarly, we commend the gallantry of Chief Adebayo Adelabu who gave a good account of not only himself but the APC in Oyo State. Our commendation also goes to all the victorious candidates in our party.
“Meanwhile, we will watch developments and use this opportunity to appeal to our party members and supporters to be calm and conduct themselves in a peaceful manner as the unprecedented eight year tenure of the APC led by Governor Abiola Ajimobi has been a season of peace, safety and security which yielded monumental developments in various sectors of the state’s economy,” Dr Olatunde added.
The party’s statement also decried and condemned the recent spate of violence witnessed in the last 48 hours in the state, emphasizing that it would be unfortunate if the state returns to the era of violence, brigandage and chaos with the turn of the PDP being in charge. It further reminded the perpetrators of violence that the APC government is still in charge of the state and no one should seize the opportunity of victory at the polls to take laws into their hands.
Makinde thanks Oyo residents, pledges inclusive governance.
The Ikolaba residence in Ibadan of the Oyo state governor-elect has become a ‘Mecca’ as people of different walks of life have been trooping in to felicitate with Makinde. It was a wide jubilation galore as party faithful, friends, families and well wishers gather to rejoice with Makinde. In a thank you address, Makinde who likened his victory to the original Agbekoya struggle of 1968 applauded the people for their dogged determination to vote for him.
He pledged to run an all inclusive government and fulfill his campaign promises and commended the former governor, Rashidi Ladoja for his role towards success at the election. The governor -elect also lauded governorship candidates of various political parties who relegated their ambition for the masses.
He called for proper investigation to apprehend the killer of federal lawmaker, Olatoye Temitope and other victims who lost their lives during the poll. A minute silence was observed for people who died in the cause of democracy and good governance in the state.
Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party in the state, Alhaji Kunmi Mustapha in an interview thanked the people of Oyo state for their support. Mustapha expressed PDP’s readiness to manage the success recorded at the election.



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