Voters on queue
By John Shiklam
General voter apathy and late or non-arrival of electoral materials from the Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission (SIECOM) marred the conduct of local government election in Kaduna State Saturday.
Voting was expected to start by 8am but as at 3pm, officials of the SIECOM were yet to arrive some polling units within the Kaduna metropolis with election materials.
In some other places, voting started at about 11:30 am with very few people waiting to vote.
When THISDAY visited some of the polling units in Kaduna North, Kaduna South and Chikun local government areas, a poor turnout of voters was observed.
In Narayi, Sabo and High Cost areas in Chikun Local Government Area, there were no voting materials as at 10:30 am, although a reasonable number of people came out to vote.
Even at Vice President Namadi Sambo’s Camp road polling unit, just close to the head office of SIECOM, there was no sign that any election was going to hold there as at 12 noon as there were no SIECOM officials or voters, nor party agents at the polling unit.
Also in Barnawa Shopping Complex in Kaduna South Local Government, there were no SIECOM officials or voting materials at the three polling units in the area as at 3pm. There were no voters at the polling units as well.
In Kakuri Hausa 1 and 2 polling units in Kaduna South Local Government Area, voting started at about 11: 30 am with a few people queuing.
It was observed that in most parts of the metropolis and environs, voters completely stayed away while others who came out to vote went back home after waiting endlessly for the arrival of election materials.
The story was the same in areas like Ungwan Rimi, Kawo and Ungwan Sarki, Ungwan Kaji, Malali and Ungwan Dosa areas in Kaduna North Local Government Area.
Some residents who spoke to THISDAY said they did not know those who were contesting for the election in addition to allegations that those elected as either chairman or councillors have always been a disappointment to the electorate for their non-performance.
Besides, some residents maintained that they cannot go and be cuing to vote in this era of suicide bombers in the name of voting some people that will only go to enrich themselves without adding value to the community.
Some others however claimed that they did not know those who are even contesting the election for chairmanship and councillorship positions, pointing out that it made no sense to go and vote for people that they don’t know.
Also commenting on the conduct of the election, the National Coordinator of the Independent Election Monitoring Group (IEMG), Mr. Festus Okoye, lamented the late arrival of election materials, saying that one of the hallmarks of a good election is proper organisation.
“One of the hallmarks of a good election is proper organization. If you don’t organize and plan well, you will definitely fail. For me, the Chairperson of SIECON was in Kwara state during their local government election. She monitored the election and saw the way the elections went.
“She was in Edo state during the governorship election and assisted in monitoring the election and saw how it went. She saw that logistic deployment is the key to the success of any election.
“The moment you don’t deploy electoral officers as well as sensitive and non sensitive materials to the polling units on time, people get agitated there and no matter what you do, you cannot get it right.”
He added that “at is 11am; I have gone to most of the polling units in Kaduna north, Kaduna South and in Chikun Local Governments. I have not seen a single place where electoral materials have arrived or where electoral officers have arrived. The only persons I have seen are police officers and other security agents deployed to the polling units and the voters. What that means is that there are challenges already with this particular process.
“As a civil society activist and as somebody who has observed monitored election in different jurisdiction both within and outside the country, I am very unhappy with this. What this means is that no matter what is done at this particular time, whoever losses the election will not believe that he/she lost in a free, fair and transparent manner.”
However when contacted to comment on why election materials were yet to arrive some of the polling units, the SIECOM Chairperson, Mrs. Hanatu Biniyat told THISDAY on telephone that she would send the State Security Service (SSS) personnel to verify.