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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Low Voters Turn Out Characterised FCT Council Election



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General low turn-out and voters’ apathy characterised what is otherwise a free, fair and secure Area Council Elections in many parts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Saturday.

The  election, which pitted the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against 12 other opposition political parties was heavily marred by few electorate coming out to vote. Our correspondents were at all the six Area Councils of the FCT and discovered that the worst affected is in Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), where residents were mostly indoors because of movement restriction, while those who ventured out had other things in mind rather than to vote.

Some young men were seen playing football in open fields, while vendors and some Kiosk Owners were also seen displaying their wares, particularly at Utako Motor Park, Jabi.

Those interviewed by our correspondents on the condition of anonymity gave several reasons for non participation ranging from general apathy that their votes will not count to inability to vote because they were either not registered, have lost their voters card or not aware of the election.

The election was however adjudged peaceful by the joint military and security top shots that monitored the elections.  The team led journalists and other monitoring organisations to polling booths at different locations in the FCT, which included Garki, Gwagwalada, Kwali, as well as Abaji Area Council, where they payed homage to the traditional ruler of the area.

Staff of Independent National Electoral Commission were however held hostage in Agyana Pandigi registration area of Abaji following the omission of the logo of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN)  from the ballot. Briefing the press after the exercise, which lasted for more than six hours, Ogunbayode said so far the election was not only peaceful, but well coordinated devoid of any hitch.

However, the heavy presence of these security personnel stationed at each polling booths and strategic areas of the FCT ensured that voting went smoothly and in orderly manner.

Similarly, most of the residents complained lack of publicity and sensitisation about the elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Consequently, a lots of travellers were caught unawares and stranded, especially at boundary regions of Abaji, Nyanya and Kubwa respectively.

Meanwhile accreditation of voters, which was billed to commence at about 8am, did not start until about 10 minutes to 9am, while in some worst case scenario  INEC staff did not show up at the different polling units in AMAC and Kuje Area Councils until 10am.

Worse still, election materials were also delayed for over two hours in some polling units as few voters who turned out waited endlessly under the unbearable sun. In Karu and Jikwoyi parts of AMAC, there were from few to significant voters but voting could not start until 1pm and affected the closing time of the INEC staff who could not collate results until after 5pm.

Similarly, Life Camp-Gwarimpa area, which the official residence of the FCT minister witnessed low-voter turn out with only three voters at the polling station at the time of visit by 1.15pm.

Speaking to journalists, the INEC Presiding Officer, Mr. Agada Ochoche  said: “We have not gotten more than 30 out of the 1,966 registered voters. “The turn out is the worst I have ever experienced since we started conducting elections in FCT.” Overall, the election was relatively peaceful, except for few cases of disagreements between the electoral officers and voters over accreditation and crowed control. Accordingly, there was a lone reported case of diversion of election materials by members allegedly belonging to the PDP and staffers of INEC who were caught with diverted ballot papers and boxes in Kabusa, a suburb in the FCT.

Meanwhile, PDP was declared victorious in most of the polling booths results that was announced in Jikwoyi, Karu and other parts of AMAC and Area Council of FCT.

Apart from PDP, about 12 Political parties contested in the six Chairmanship and 62 Counsellorship slots including  Accord Party(AP), Action Alliance(AA), Action Congress of Nigeria(CAN), All Progressive Grand Alliance(APGA), All Nigeria Peoples Party(ANPP), and Congress for Progressive Change(CPC).

Other parties that fielded candidates are: Citizen Popular Party(CPP), Labour Party(LP), National Conscience Party(NCP), Progressive People Alliance(PPA), United Progressive Party(UPP), and Social Democratic Mega Party(SDMP).

Source: Thisday

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