Voter apathy mar FCT elections
Scanty polling units with unenthusiastic electorates casually strolling in to cast their ballots were regular sight in most polling units at the just concluded governorship and state house of assembly elections in Abuja.
Though governorship election didn’t hold in the FCT, voters’ turn out for the chairmanship elections was relatively low compared to the presidential elections.
The FCT alone had a record of 467,784 accredited voters for the presidential election. This figure may however not be realized from last weekend election as there was some sort of voters’ apathy.
Reporters who went round most polling units in the FCT on Saturday’s area council and chairmanship election in Abuja report that not many people came out to exercise their franchise as many of the polling stations were empty.
Voters’ apathy were recorded in most polling units in Kwali at the FCT Area Council elections. Our correspondents who visited polling units in Kwali on Saturday observed that only a handful of voters turned out to exercise their franchise when compared to turnout of voters at the February 23 Presidential and National Assemble elections.
Officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, however, arrived most polling units on time and commenced accreditation of voters almost immediately.
Voting commenced at about 8:30am unlike the presidential and National Assembly polls which started late. Mr Godwin Adamu, a voter told METRO that the turnout of the last presidential and National Assembly elections was more compared to this area council’s polls.
Low turnout of voters was observed at both Bwari and Zuba areas of FCT as INEC officials were already in the various polling stations as early as 7.30 a.m. At the Federal Government Girls College, Government Day Secondary School, JAMB and Zango polling units in Bwari, INEC officials were already on ground at 8:10a.m.
At Tungamaje LEA Primary School Polling station in Zuba, accreditation and voting commenced at 8:15 a. m. however the area recorded low voters’ turnout as some INEC officials were waiting for voters to come for accreditation and voting.
In Bwari at 8.a.m at FGGC polling unity 003, Kuduru ward, INEC officials and security personnel were waiting patiently for voters. As at 7: 20 a.m. INEC officials were already at the GDSS with the election materials but no voters was on sight at about 8:30am when our correspondent left the polling unit.
At JAMB polling unity, accreditation and voting commenced at 8:16 a.m., accreditation and voting also started 8:15 at Zango polling unit but there was issue with two card readers which were configured for other polling units.
Similarly at the Polling Unit 009, Lugbe Primary School, very low turnout compared to the last election. Though voting materials arrived the polling unit as early as 8:30am, voting didn’t commence till past 9am when voters started trickling into the polling unit.
Voting material however arrived late in Polling Unit 008, at the former ECWA Church Lugbe. The Polling Officer who were seen setting up voting stand at about 9am, said the delay was due to time spent at the Lugbe Police Station, in allocating officers to escort them to the Polling Unit.
However, despite this delay, voters took their time in showing up at the polling unit. The few voters seen on ground attributed the low turn out to the lack of interest by most Nigerians in grass root elections.
Also at Polling Unit 014 Lugbe Secondary School by Car Wash, materials arrived at 8:30am. The center also recorded very low turnout of electorates.
Mr. Jude Azubike who cast his vote in Lugbe said most Nigerians don’t consider local politics as important as that of federal elections.
“It is unfortunate that most of us don’t consider local elections as important as that of the presidential. We should be more concerned about those who lead us at the local level, because it is their performance that impacts us the most or otherwise.”
Voters at polling Unit 005, New Nyanya Gbagi primary school, attributed the low turn out to the disenchantment of some voters’. Some voters who spoke with our correspondent believe there was no need for them to cast their votes since the performance of most council chairmen are to a large extent dependent on the support from the FCT minister.
A resident of New Nyanya who spoke on the low turnout said the most non indigenes believe the chairmanship position is the exclusive rights of indigent Gbagis so there is no need for outside interference.
“The truth is the Gbagis have those they want in the helm of affairs in the various councils so whether the we vote or not it is the person they want that will become the chairman so what is the need for me going to waste my time standing in line?” it is a Gbagi affairs so just leave it at that.”
Meanwhile at a polling unit in area 7, only three voters were sighted on ground and ready to vote as at 8:00 a.m. when our correspondent visited.
At the Area 1 primary school which has the highest number of voters, fewer than 50 voters were on ground as at the time of this report, compared to over 2000 voters who were present at about the same time during the presidential election.
The situation was worst at Polling Unit 111 in Asokoro as the unit was virtually empty when our correspondent visited at 9am.
METRO also observe that the restriction of movement was not adhered to when compared to the presidential elections. Some shops were seen open for businesses with commercial motorcycles riders moving about their normal business.
The council election is to elect the chairmen and councillors for the 10 political wards across the area councils.