Widespread voter turnout marred Saturday's governorship and Houses of Assembly polls with some governors and other notable Nigerians lamenting the situation.
Findings by Sunday PUNCH showed that low turnout was recorded in many states as more voters boycotted the governorship and state assembly polls compared to the presidential and National Assembly polls held three weeks ago.
In Lagos State, Sunday PUNCH observed that at Polling Unit 085, Ward 3, Ikeja, where the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, voted, only 50 out of the 324 registered voters came out to vote.
Tinubu, who voted around 9.30am alongside his wife, Oluremi, however, did not speak with journalists.
But Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who voted at Polling Unit 006 at Ward E3, St. Stephens Nursery and Primary School, Adeniji Adele, Lagos Island LGA, said he was impressed by the voter turnout.
“My wife and I are happy with the turnout at this polling unit,” he said.
Atiku blasts INEC
In Adamawa State, there was widespread voter apathy.
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who voted at Polling Unit 012, Ajiya, Yola, said he had lost confidence in INEC.
Atiku, who came second in the February 25 presidential poll and had rejected the result, said he was skeptical and expected nothing positive from the elections.
But Adamawa State Governor, Ahmadu Fintiri, who voted at Polling Unit 004, his home town in the Madagali LGA, described the turnout as satisfactory.
Obi laments apathy
In Anambra State, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, lamented that many registered voters did not show up for the state Assembly poll on Saturday.
Obi, who came third in the presidential poll and has also rejected the result, said he believed that the low voter turnout was because the outcome of the February 25 presidential election did not reflect the wishes of the people.
“The electorate were discouraged to come to vote because of what happened in the last poll that did not reflect the people's wish,” Obi said.
Anambra State Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, also decried the low voter turnout but he commended INEC for the early commencement of the voting process.
Also in Enugu State, there was also low voter turnout.
Voters scared – Amaechi
In Rivers State, one of our correspondents reported that youths were seen playing football on the streets of Port Harcourt, unconcerned about the day's elections.
The low turnout of voters might not be unconnected to the political tension in the state, coupled with the show of force by the military and the police on Friday.
A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress and former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who voted at Polling Unit 17, Ward 8, Ubima, IKwerre LGA, said there was fear in the air.
He said, “There is voter apathy. I don't know whether its cuts across the whole of Nigeria, but there is voter apathy in Rivers State. Nobody wants to come out because people are scared.”
Voters intimidated – El-Rufai
In Kaduna State, the long queues of voters seen during the presidential and National Assembly elections were absent on Saturday, despite early arrival of INEC officials.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai, who had to stay in queue for several hours during the presidential election, lamented poor voter turnout for the governorship and state assembly polls.
The governor, who voted at Polling Unit 024, Ward 07, Ungwan Sarki, Kaduna North LGA, blamed the situation on alleged voter intimidation.
“What I am seeing is that the turnout is a little bit low compared to the presidential election. INEC has done very well,” the governor said.
But there was massive voter turnout in Southern Kaduna.
The deputy governorship candidate of the PDP in Kaduna State, Dr. John Ayuba, who voted at Samaru, said the large turnout signified people's yearning for a government that would guarantee their security.
In Ondo State, Sunday PUNCH reports low voter turnout in several local government areas estimating that the total number of accredited voters was about 30 per cent of registered voters
The Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly, David Oloyeloogun, decried the situation.
Saraki expresses worry
In Kwara State, there was also voter apathy despite early arrival of INEC officials.
Lamenting the situation, immediate past Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, said, “The process is going on peacefully, but clearly we can all see that the turnout is low; people are still a little bit disappointed at the last elections as INEC has disenfranchised a lot of people.”
The Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, who voted at Polling Unit 004 Akanbi Ward, Ilorin South LGA, Ilorin, also described the exercise as peaceful.
In Oyo State, there was also low voters' turnout in virtually all the polling units visited by Sunday PUNCH.
INEC officials, who arrived early, and party agents were seen waiting for the voters to arrive.
The low voters' turnout in Ibadan might not be unconnected with the killing of three persons on Wednesday, during a clash between supporters of the All Progressives Congress and the PDP at Iya Court, Ile-tuntun, South-East LGA.
In Edo State, there was also low turnout of voters. Governor Godwin Obaseki, who voted at Emokpae Primary School Ward 4, Oredo LGA, said the situation could be because of heavy security presence.
The governor said, “This is not the kind of turnout we find or get in elections in this centre. Clearly, the extreme security measures that have been taken should be relaxed. As you can see, there is a total lockdown of the city which is not allowing people to come out to exercise their franchise.
“It is important that we have security but it cannot be this overwhelming because this heavy presence of the security men across the city is a deterrent and scary for most people to stay at their polling units.”
In the Kwande LGA of Benue State, the election was marred by errors on ballot papers.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Prof. Sam Egwu, said, “The problem in Kwande is that there is printing error of the ballot papers. There are two state constituencies and what should have been put on one constituency was mistakingly put on the other. This is a printing error from Abuja and because of level of credibility we have built we could not open that ballot papers till this morning.
“I have explained to political leaders across the party spectrum but it appears they are not convinced and therefore they do not think that the process should continue.”
However, Governor Samuel Ortom, who voted at Gbanjimba, Guma LGA, described the exercise as peaceful, adding that the turnout was impressive.
“The turnout is very impressive. It's just around 9am and more people are coming. Our people are more sensitised and they are here to protect their votes until it is transmitted,” the governor said.
Also, a former Senate President, David Mark, who voted alongside his wife, Helen, in the Otukpo area of the state, said the exercise was smooth and peaceful.
He said, “So far, the process has been smooth and orderly here in my area. I hope the process will continue seamlessly throughout the country.”
In Ogun State, the Senior Special Adviser to Governor Dapo Abiodun on Public Communications, Remmy Hazzan, commended the voter turnout but alleged that there were names of dead people on the voter register at Polling Unit 6, Ward 14, Omu, Odogbolu LGA.
Hazzan said, “In this particular unit, we have an impressive turnout, but if you check the voters' register, you will see that there is voters' apathy because some people on the list are dead.
“My father's name is in that register but he died about eight years ago. His name hasn't been removed from the register.”
In Niger State, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Mohammed Bago, who spoke to journalists after casting his vote at Twashagi Rabba Polling Unit 010 in Bida, Bago said, “INEC has done very well and we are okay. We don't have any problem for now. Everything is okay. The BVAS is working. The turnout is massive.”
Oyebanji commends INEC
Our correspondents in Ebonyi and Ekiti states similarly reported voter apathy.
Ekiti State Governor, Biodun Oyebanji, who voted at Ward 6, Unit 3, Okelele at Ikogosi Ekiti, Ekiti West LGA, however, lauded INEC over improvement on the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, describing it as a great value addition to the electoral process.
Ex-minister alleges intimidation
In Nasarawa State, a former Minister of Information and Director-General of the Nasarawa State PDP Campaign Council, Labaran Maku, blamed poor voter turnout on alleged intimidation by APC agents.
In Borno State, there was also widespread low voter turnout even though there was a timely arrival of election materials.
I'm confident – Ganduje
Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State expressed confidence that the ruling APC would overwhelmingly win.
However, the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, commended the large turnout of voters for the governorship and state House of Assembly elections.
Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, called on INEC to ensure that the elections reflect the wishes of the electorate in the state.
NBA hails exercise
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Bar Association commended the conduct of the governorship and House of Assembly elections, saying there were noticeable improvements from the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections.
The NBA President, Mr Yakubu Maikyau, SAN, said this at a virtual news conference from Kebbi, where he observed the elections, according to a News Agency of Nigeria report.
He said, “INEC officials arrived at polling units on time and voting started at 8.30am across many polling units and this appears to be the trend across the nation.”
The NBA equally reported that BVAS machines functioned very well during the elections and that voting ended earlier unlike the previous elections.
“Our observers on the field said there were incidences of violence in some polling units, including Lagos State.
“In a particular polling unit, it was reported that thugs attacked voters who were not voting for a particular party.
“We have verified a video report sent by our observers, which showed thugs openly announcing on the streets in Ajegunle that any voter who will not vote for a particular political party should not come out to vote.
“We also observed that there was vote buying across the country, even in some places where I observed the elections,” the NBA president added.(PUNCH)