By lduozee Paul, Benin
The state House of Assembly elections conducted in some partsof Edo State on March 9, 2019, was marred with voter apathy. Most of theelectorate did not come out to vote unlike in the presidential and NationalAssembly elections held on February 23,2019 where all polling stations andcentres were filled with people eager to vote for their desired presidential candidate, a hope chattered by the election umpire, INEC.
Atthe Staff Training Centre in Oredo Local GovernmentArea where the former APC national chairman, Chief Odigie Oyegun voted, aftercasting his vote, he told journalists the low turnout of voters at the polls wasa result of there being no governorship elections in Edo State.
“lt is unfortunate that we Nigerians did not pay attention to our local and state government polls than the presidential elections. In fact, Edo State is quietly understanding that there is no governorship poll. l think in the long run we must find a way of conducting all the national polls in one day. It may be cumbersome, a lot of time to count elections results. We need to look at the process broadly and see how the country’s elections will be conducted in one day,” Oyegun said.
At Central Park, former Ida Primary School, in ward 1 Ogbe Quarter in units 13,14,15 and 16,in Oredo Local Government Area, former APC chieftain during Comrade Oshiomole’s era, now in the PDP, Chief Osamede Adun, alias Bob-lzua, alleged that INEC allowed underage voters to be voting in his polling centres. He alleged that thugs took over polling stations looking for how to steal ballot papers.
Chief Adun told journalists, “Thanked God the press is here. Let me tell you, lNEC is allowing underage to vote. They told us they are not going to allow underage to vote, but what we are seeing now is that lNEC let them vote. They are thumb printing and voting.”
Asked why the turn-out of voters was low,Bob-lzua said, “You expect the person who left his or her house, eventraveled two times because of the shift of the polls last two weeks to come outto vote, and you robbed them of their votes. And you want them to come out andvote again? They will not because their votes are not counting. Just look ateverybody in this centre, I know them, they are thugs looking for how to stealballot boxes, they are the ones that filled this field.”
Embattled Oredo House Assembly candidate representing Oredo East constituency, Osaro Obazee while chatting with journalists after casting his vote disagreed that the polls witnessed a low turn out. He said it is because there is no governorship election in Edo State. Hon. Obazee described the elections as peaceful.
Hon. Christopher Okaheben, incumbent lawmakerrepresenting Oredo West while inspecting votes in his constituency after voting,said he is very excited that the election was peaceful and described the turnoutof voters as okay. He expressed optimism that he would win the election.
At ward 11 in Oredo Local Government comprising of five polling stations, former APC Edo state women leader, Mrs. Aisosa Amadasun said the election was peaceful because INEC provided the election materials on time. Also the APC ward 11 chairman, Nosa Edosomwan said people did not turn up because they did not expect the results lNEC announced during the February 23 presidential election when the people thought President Buhari would lose. He described the March 9 election as fair and credible.
In Egor Local Government Area, ward four, units 6,7 and 8 at Tipper Garage,a chieftain of APC Comrade Olaye said the polls was going to be one way with low turn- out and boosted thatAPC would win the elections.
In Edo Central and Edo North senatorial districts, information made available by colleagues who monitored the areas indicate that there was low turnout of voter which they claimed provided room for the ruling APC party to rig the polls. In Etsako Local Government Area, many registered voters did not come out to vote.
According to INEC in the various collation centres where results of the Assembly polls were announced, APC won the 24 seats, except in Orhionmwon Local Government in Edo south where the election was declared inconclusive due to irregularities.