…APC, PDP differ over voters’ apathy
…trade blames on harassment of members
By Zarumi Mashood
Eligible voters in Ilorin metropolis on Saturday trooped out in thousands to cast their ballots for their preferred Governorship and House of Assembly members.
The turn out of voters in some of the polling units visited by our reporters was not encouraging if compared with impressive turn out witnessed in the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
It was gathered that there were pockets of violence in some of the polling units in the metropolis.
INEC officers arrived as early as 7:00am in some of the polling booths Ilorin metropolis and Asa Local Government and 7:30am in many others visited by our crew.
It was also gathered that voting started at exactly 8:00am, but some of the polling units could not start by 8:00am due to late arrival of INEC officers.
Our correspondent reports that INEC officers arrived Budo tuntun 007 polling unit in Asa Local Government at exactly 7:00am and voting later commenced at 8:00am as scheduled by INEC. Card readers at the unit was functioning very well and voters conducted themselves in a peaceful manner.
Some of the voters and political parties’ leaders who spoke with our reporters expressed divergence views on the reasons for apathy.
The Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki blamed low turn out on militarization of the exercise.
Saraki who spoke with journalists after casting at Ode Opobiyi polling unit 005, condemned the militarization of the Saturday’s governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections in Kwara state.
He blamed the low turn out of voters on the heavy deployment of military and other security operatives for the exercise.
Corroborating Saraki’s view, former Minister of National Planning, Professor Abubakar Suleiman Olanrewaju, also condemned the militarization of the exercise in the state.
Suleiman,while briefing journalists after casting his vote at Ode Opobiyi 005 polling unit, in Ilorin West Local Government, described the process as undemocratic, pointing out that the military are driving away voters.
The Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mallam Issa Onilu, however, said the low turnout was attributable to the resounding success APC recorded during the last Presidential and National Assembly elections in the state.
Onilu added that the results of the last election has demoralized members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.
“Apathy is attributed to the pattern of results of the last election in kwara state. The gap was too much, there is no way people who lost so badly will not be demoralized. They were demoralized and they didn’t know what next to do to reach that massive gap. They were not even ready to come up at all, perhaps many of them gave up” he said.
While thanking God for the way and manner the election went in the state, Onilu said the poll was peaceful, and the security personnel were up and doing to maintain peace and order.
Similarly, leaders of the main two political parties traded blames on harassment of their members and supporters.
The Chairman of Kwara State Local Government Service Commission, Hajia Sarat Adebayo was on Saturday harassed and prevented from casting her vote by the youth suspected to be supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) over the alleged possession of fake Permanent Voter Card (PVC)
Adebayo made the allegation at Ode Onitobe polling unit, in Ilorin East Local Government Area of the state, alleged that they denied her from casting her ballot for no reason.
Narrating her ordeal, Adebayo said
“when I am about to cast my vote, I presented my voter card to presiding officer which he obliged. When he was trying to verify my name from his record, the APC agents came from behind and snatched my PVC from presiding officer, they hanged my hand, before I know what was happening, six of them mobbed me.
She alleged that those who attacked her were sponsored by Reps-elect for Ilorin East/South Federal Constituency, Alhaji Abdulganiyu Cook Olododo.
She said Olododo masterminded her attack because of the perfect arrangements she championed by separating the two polling units in the area to avoid rigging.
According to her “our experience in the last two weeks was very bitter. Today, we took the bull by the horn and separated the two boxes but they were not comfortable with the new arrangement. Then, in the last election, their agents were six and today we made our own six too. That is where we are at par because we are trying to address rigging”.
She alleged further that one PDP observer and two agents were arrested by police during her attack and delayed them for over two hours before they were released.
She said only a Civil Defense officer at the unit could not rescue the situation.
Olododo in a swift reaction, described the allegation as far from the truth.
He denied sponsored anybody from harassing and disenfranchising ex-women leader, explaining that the party agents prevented her voting because she presented a male voter card.
He said Sarat was only looking for excuse to give her pay-master because she had envisaged total defeat from the polls.
According to him, “I left the polling unit after casting my vote and I was called around 5:30 that she came to vote with a man voter card and the party agents cut her red-handed. If not for the intervention of elders and youths, she should have been with the security agents.
“But it is untrue for her to say that and she only looking for an excuse for all the money she had collected from her boss and all her outburst on social media and on air. All them from ‘A to Z’ know their levels now as far as Ibagun, Ilorin and Kwara at large are concern”
On the alleged arrest of PDP agents and observer, Olododo said PDP agents and observers were not arrested but only cautioned because they put on tags with PDP logo contrary to INEC guidelines,
Speaking on the conduct on Saturday polls, the Kwara Central Senatorial Chairman of PDP, Alhaji Jimoh Adesina described the exercise as peaceful and orderly in his area.
Adesina who spoke with our reporters shortly after casting his vote at Budo Tuntun 007 polling unit in Agbona/fata/elebue ward in Asa Local Government, praised peaceful conduct of electorate in the area.
Adesina particularly commended the turn out of voters which he described as very impressive and encouraging.
The PDP chieftain who noted with pleasure that card readers were functioning very well in his polling unit, also thanked INEC officers for arriving early.
He also commended the security agents for ensuring professionalism in protecting electorate and electoral materials.
While expressing hope that PDP gubernatorial candidate would be victorious at the polls, he warned youths against being used as instruments of destruction.
Also speaking, former Chairman of Local Government Service Commission, Alhaji Suleiman Kayode Yusuf Maja described the exercise in his area as very peaceful and orderly.
Maja appreciated INEC officers for arriving early and handling the national assignment with utmost professionalism.
He equally praised the security arrangement in the area, but expressed worry over low turn out of voters.
“In my area, no harassment of voters because security men here are well trained and they were doing the jobs with professionalism”.
He expressed hope that PDP gubernatorial candidate would be victorious at the polls.
The PDP chieftain advised INEC to remain an unbiased umpire and discharge their duties with fear of God and avoid manipulate of results.
In their comments, the candidate of PDP for Ilorin North/West, Kwara State House of Assembly, Olanrewaju Oba, and the former Commissioner of Water Resources in the state, Barr Abdulrazaq Akorede commended the conduct of Independent National Electoral Commission, over the smooth conduct of the election.
The duo however expressed dismay over the voter apathy that characterized the election throughout the state.
Oba in his part, alleged that agents of PDP were harassed by the military men during counting of voting was about to commence in his polling unit.
He said harassment might not be unconnected with plan by the opposition party to rig the polls, adding that the case had been reported to appropriate authority for necessary action.
They also called on all and sundry to be good citizens and always maintain law and order.
The duo while speaking to newsmen after casting their votes also applauded the conduct of the security agencies noting that there was no any case of harassment of voters as all go about peacefully to perform their civic responsibilities.
Balloting concluded across the length and breadth of the state at exactly 2:00pm while sorting and counting followed immediately.