Former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo
Former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, was absent yesterday as the local government elections held throughout his home state , Ogun . THISDAY gathered that the former chairman of the Board of Trustees of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) did not turn up for both the accreditation and the voting exercise at his Ward 11, Unit 15, Totoro in Abeokuta, the state capital, as his name was conspicuously missing from the voter register.
The Presiding Officer in charge of the polling centre, Mr. Kolawole Oyetola, could not offer any explanation for the omission of the former president’s name as he confirmed to journalists at about 11.50 a.m, few minutes to the end of the accreditation exercise, that Obasanjo’s name was indeed missing from the list. “ I have checked through this register several times, Baba’s name is not here.
I suggest that you go to the next polling booth, (Unit 16),,” he told the anxious journalists who had been waiting for the former president to come and cast his vote. However, when the journalists checked at Unit 16, Obasanjo’s name was still missing from the register.
The development however came as the State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, described local council polls in the state as the first and most credible elections ever conducted at the local level since the return of civil rule in 1999. Amosun stated this while fielding questions from newsmen at the African Church Primary School, Ita-Iyalode Ward 11, Unit 12 in Abeokuta North Local Government, where he had gone to exercise his civil responsibility.
“This is the very first time we are conducting local government elections in a free and fair atmosphere since 1999. The last exercise under the previous administration was so marred with malpractices and an atmosphere of fear, terror and intimidation that opposition parties had to boycott the polls. So we are having under the current administration free and fair polls with every party participating,” he said.
He said contrary to pre-poll allegations in some quarters, it was “our friends from the other side that are alleged to have been involved in some malpractices this morning,” adding “ That’s the report we have received.”
There were unconfirmed reports that some loyalists of some of the opposition parties were found with guns, fake ballot papers and result sheets and arrested by the police.
On what he expected from the exercise, he said his party did not take the electorate for granted, hence the strenuous electioneering campaign it embarked on ahead of the polls.
He explained that given the experience in the past vis-a-vis the general elections, the turn-out at the polls was acceptable but would be improved upon as democracy became rooted in Nigeria.