James Sowole in Akure
Non-participation of the major opposition political party, the All Progressives Party (APC), made on Saturday’s local government election in Ondo State a Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) affair.
At the polling units visited by THISDAY, only PDP agents were seen on ground while turnout was generally low. As at 12.00 noon, very few voters had shown up for accreditation at many polling units.
In compliance with restriction of movement order, roads were deserted by motorists while few residents that moved out of their homes only walked to polling units for accreditation.
Specifically on turn-out, only eight voters were accredited as at 10:00am at Unit 002 Ward 11 in Akure South Local Government Area out of 692 that registered in the unit. The unit, Owode/Imuagun is the unit of the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede.
Also at Unit 7 Ward 4, St Stephen Primary School, Ijomu, about 150 voters were said to have been accredited as at 12 noon out of over 1,000 that registered at the unit. The situation was the same in other towns like Owo, Ondo, Okitipupa, Igbara Oke and other towns.
However, PDP chieftains described the election as very impressive because as a grassroots election, it was not expected to be as rowdy as everybody thought. Also, Jegede said he was impressed by the exercise because it was devoid of any form of rancour and tension.
PDP Chairmanship candidate for Akure South Local Government, Mr. Adebayo Alarapon said the initial low turnout was not enough to generalise that the poll was unsuccessful.
The position of party chieftains was buttressed by Governor Olusegun Mimiko, who voted in front of his Momak Hospital in Ondo West Local Government, and said the exercise was a successful one. He said the boycott of any political party cannot invalidate the results of the election.
He said, “It is within the constitutional power of any individual or party to boycott an election they want to boycott. All I know is that in the last one week, there had been up to three court cases that had been decided at both state and federal courts that everything is in order; that the election should proceed.”
Meanwhile some members of opposition political parties have lauded the Ondo State Independent Electoral Commission (ODIEC) on the peaceful conduct of the Local Government Areas (LGA) election.
They said in Okitipupa that they were not denied their right to exercise their civic responsibility of voting for their desired parties. They also said although there were little hitches during the accreditation, it was not enough to rubbish the process.
Mr. Tunji Kalejaiye of the labour Party (LP), after casting his vote at Okitipupa Ward 1, said the process was peaceful and commendable. Another voter, Mrs. Grace Titus of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) at Okitipupa Ward 1, said the election process was fair, adding that she voted wisely.
Mr. Taiwo Ogunyemi who said he voted for the National Conscience Party (NCP) at Okitipupa Ward 2 also commended the state government for fair conduct of the election, adding that results would be free and fair.
However, Mrs. Tawa Kuoti of the Accord Party (AP) expressed displeasure over late arrival of electoral materials which led to late accreditation of voters at the Okitipupa Ward 2.
Meanwhile, Ondo State hosted chairmen and commissioners from the 36 state independent electoral commissions (SEIC) as monitors and observers of the council poll. The senior electoral officers divided themselves into three groups to observe the conduct of the poll in the 18 council areas of the state.
The chairman of ODIEC, Prof. Olugbenga Ige, explained that his commission was attending to various complaints of late arrival of election officials and materials at polling units in Akure.