GOVERNORSHIP/STATE ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS: Stakeholders react to voters’ apathy in Kwara

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By Our Reporter

Low turnout of voters characterised the Saturday guber and State House of Assembly elections across Kwara State, some political stakeholders in the state spoke to NATIONAL PILOT on what they attributed to the development and other glitches that almost marred the process across the state.

Fear of militarisation scared voters: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial Candidate, Razak Atunwa: Generally from the reports, Election in Asa has been peaceful and orderly. Save for some hiccups here and there. The voting started on time and went on in a decorous manner. There is no complaint in my polling unit.
Military presence has been negligible at polling units. Last election they were everywhere, going to every polling unit gun trotting. Today (Saturday) I have only witnessed presence of the Police, operatives of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). They were gun trotting but at least the military were not there. It was a kind of improvement over the previous election.
On the voters’ apathy. I think a number of factors are responsible. Firstly, in any election where there are two stages to it, the second one suffers for it because people have the enthusiasm to come out for the first election while the second one takes the back seat. Secondly, what I’m complaining about, the militarisation of election; people had fear that the same thing will happen again. So people stayed back home on that account.
There has been improvement on the card reader because PDP complained to INEC and we said there should be minimal manual registration across the state and that we believe made them improve on the card readers.

Botched presidential/NASS election frustrated electorate: Jimoh Adesina, Kwara Central Senatorial Chairman of PDP: The low turnout of voters for this election is not unconnected with the cancellation of the Presidential and National Assembly elections. This dampened the initial enthusiasm people had for the general polls.

Military men outnumbered police: State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Kamaldeen Ajibade: The election has been militarised. The military men deployed for the exercise outnumbered the policemen deployed for the exercise in the state.
Before you see two policemen you would seen about 10 military men, this is not supposed to be because this is a civil exercise, in which the police should be more involved because of the training to handle civil cases.
The low turnout of voters can be attributed to the fallout of the previous polls. Most people were not happy with the outcome of the presidential and National Assembly elections. After the last election, most people reviewed and had a rethink because with the results, they felt their votes did not count.

Voters disappointed with presidential/NASS elections: Wahab Bolakale, Commissioner 2, State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB): Generally, there is low turnout of voters across the state. In my area, party agents had been going from house-to-house to appeal to people to come out to cast their votes. This situation is so because the people were disappointed with result of last election.

Elections too far apart: Sikirullahi Solagberu, former chairman, Ilorin West Local Government: The election recorded low turnout of voters because of the long break between the two elections. The elections, which are in two stages are too far apart, and this discouraged those who had to travel to exercise their franchise. Moreso, people were frustrated over the result of the previous election.

Intimidation of party agents: Isiaka Labaika, Permanent Member III, Kwara State Civil Service Commission: The previous elections in my polling unit was characterised by multiple voting by the opposition party and this we are guarding against this time around. I got reports that some of our party agents were arrested by security agents. The low turnout is no doubt as a result of the frustration experienced by electorate over outcome of last election. But, in my polling unit, the turnout is impressive.

PDP didn’t mobilise for election: Prince Sunday Fagbemi, former – PDP factional chairman: The election is free and fair, there were no violence of any kind. Security operatives are on ground to enforce law and there was no harassment. The turnout is low and it is understandable. The Peoples Democratic Party did not mobilise for the election.

Intimidation by APC: Gbenga Makanjuola, state PDP Deputy Governorship candidate: The exercise is commendable in terms of logistics from INEC, personnel monitoring by the security agencies. Above all, the electorate coordinated themselves in peaceful manner. I’ve not heard of breach of security anywhere except in one place and the matter has been resolved. An APC leader, who is a General was moving around, arresting our people, one of our party members was injured and he is presently in the hospital. Apart from these, it is a peaceful exercise. The low turnout of voters is everywhere. The turnout is like 60 percent while that of the presidential poll is like 85 percent.

Harassment by security operatives: Oladipupo Solomon Muyiwa, Irepodun Local Government Chairman: The turnout is low and it’s due to intimidation by the security operatives. There has been lot of arrests and harassment of electorate in my ward. The election cannot be free and fair, when the electorate cannot walk freely to the polling units, what is free in such exercise? Some people stayed indoor when they saw mobile police everywhere. Our presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar has gone to court due to the irregularities discovered in the exercise. From what we’re seeing today, PDP should be able to carry the day.

Frustration over previous elections: Taiwo Mustapha, business mogul: The election has been peaceful and I’m not expecting anything less. The presidential election brought lot of tension with it. However, the low turnout is as a result of how the last election turned out, which was not in line with expectation of the people.

Intimidation by military men: Tajudeen Bada, former council chairman, Irepodun LGA: To an extent, the exercise has been very peaceful; we don’t normally have issues at the early stage of the exercise, it may become rancorous when we are about to collate result.
Some soldiers have been here today, driving recklessly, to me they are trying to create fear.

Turnout very poor: Chief Falz Balogun, Chairman, Offa Descendants Union (ODU): The election is hitch free. No vote buying, there was a rumour of ballot box snatching but when we got there, it was found out to be untrue. We don’t know why the turnout was very poor. But election to me is like sport, one will lose the other will win. We just want who will win and be of benefit to the people.

Turnout not commendable: Ali Ahmad, Speaker, State House of Assembly: I learnt that the DSS came here with truck load of heavily armed men. I called them and they explained that they were just trying to ensure peace and I think it’s good because they are doing it for us. The politicians will allow the electorate to vote peacefully. The turnout is not commendable.

Last election marred by multiple voting: Aminat Omodara, Chairman, Ilorin West Local Government: What I believe happened last election was over voting, but this time around I will not allow it to happen in my area. Some people voted where they were not registered. When you cheat to win that’s not victory. If Senate president wanted to cheat in Kwara he has every power, capability to do it, but he made it free and fair for everyone.
My people were not happy with the result of last presidential election, they came out enmasse for the exercise but were disappointed with the outcome.

Arrest of party agent, supporters: Ibrahim Ajia, National Chief Security Officer for PDP presidential campaign: The election was militarised, which jeopardise the whole process.
Police came to my area at Magaji Ngeri that they got information that there were fake agents as a result of that they arrested nine PDP agents and detained them. We don’t have to militarise the process before we can win. The Federal Government may claim to give level playing ground, but what is happening has shown otherwise.

Election not militarised: Kayode Egbetokun, state Commissioner of Police: There were little disturbances here and there but it has been resolved. The disturbances are limited to few places, but we were able to resolve them.
The security is inadequate. If somebody is saying there is militarisation, have you observed that? We have our patrol team moving around and the law does not permit us to deployed armed officers to polling units. That’s why you see them moving around to prevent unforeseen circumstances.

Electorate lost confidence in INEC: Olanrewaju Oba, Ilorin North West House of Assembly candidate: From what happened in last election we can’t rely on INEC. People turned out to vote in the last election, but majority were disappointed by the electoral body.

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