Despite Voter Apathy, APC Leads in Lagos LG Polls

  • Ambode satisfied with outcome, PDP, LP reject results
  • Voters, stakeholders react as rain disrupts exercise

Abimbola Akosile, Shola Oydyipo, Segun James, Gboyega Akinsanmi, Anayo Okolie and Sarah Agbamuche

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos, saturday led comfortably in the elections conducted into all the 20 Local Government Areas (LGAs) and 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) across the state, despite the overwhelming voter apathy that typified the exercise amid the heavy downpour, which rained all day and almost disrupted voting in many of the designated centres.

Although Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, who also recorded landslide result at his Epe polling unit, expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the exercise and described the election as peaceful, some of the opposition parties, including the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Labour Party (LP) and the Accord Party (AP) that participated in the election have called for a cancellation of the election over alleged malpractices, despite competing keenly in many of the wards.

Some of the voters, who also spoke to THISDAY, gave mixed reactions on the outcome of the exercise. While some were satisfied with the conduct, others had cause to complain, either for logistics reasons or general mobilization for an exercise that held between morning and 3pm yesterday, during which movement restriction was also observed maximally.

Unfortunately, however, results were still being counted as at press time last night, but from the exit polls, the APC still proved its mettle as the party to beat in Lagos as it led comfortably in practically all the councils.

Although LASIEC gave no reasons for not announcing results of the elections last night, it was however believed that the weather and other logistic reasons might have contributed significantly to why the electoral body shelved the announcement of results.

Meanwhile, as THISDAY editors and reporters monitored the elections across the state saturday, it became evident that the persistent downpour had kept many people away from voting, compounded by the general voter apathy to council administration in the state.
For instance, along Agege Motor Road from Iju-Ishaga to Pen Cinema down through Ikeja-along, Oshodi, Mushin, Ojuelegba, and Apapa between 10am and 12.20 pm revealed just a few residents, who visited the voting centres to carry out their accreditation and also vote for the candidates of their choice.

Ironically, the rain, which had been falling consistently in places like Ikeja, Surulere, Apapa, Agege, Ishaga and Mushin, did not stop some youths and children from playing soccer and playing around on the vehicle-free roads, as witnessed by THISDAY.
There was police presence at Ishaga-Elliot, Agege Pen Cinema, Oshodi under the bridge, Ojuelegba at Barracks bus-stop, and in front of Area B Command in Apapa, where vehicles were stopped and the occupants subjected to questioning for moving around during the election period, in spite of restrictions on movement.

At Ojodo, most polling stations were without voters.
At one of the stations, no accreditation had taken place as at 10.30am even though materials and electoral officials were already at the polling station as early as 8.30am.

Chairman of LASIEC, Justice Ayotunde Phillips, later confirmed incidences of violence in some part of the state, but said the situation was immediately contained.

Phillips, who went for an on-the-spot assessment in some polling stations in the Yaba area of the state, found that only a few places recorded voting at all. At the St. Timothy College, Onike polling station, for example, nobody voted and even the electoral official stationed there just sat away from the polling unit as the torrential rains continued to pour.

At the Fazil Omar High School, Iwaya, voters’ turnout was high and the situation was calm. There was also camaraderie among the polling agents of the three parties having candidates in the election. But in Ikoyi/Obalende, turnout was impressive.

Phillips had also explained that in view of the downpour, the commission could make some amendments in the process, admitting that as a result of the rains, election materials did not get to some polling units and booths on time, a situation she reckoned could necessitate “shifting the process around” as she sued for calm.

Although the exercise has since generated mixed reactions from voters, Ambode, who reportedly cleared his Epe polling unit for the APC, commended the success of the exercise and said it was only through such a process that Nigeria could make meaningful progress as well as deepen her democratic process.

The governor, who was at his polling unit at Ogunmodede Junior and Senior College in Papa Epe at 9:35am and cast his vote at exactly 9:45am, urged Lagosians to come out en masse and vote for credible candidates.

“You cannot stay back at home and just expect that things will work well. Yes, we have tried at the state level but we also need credible people at the local government level and that is the nearest government to our people and all we have been advocating is about participatory governance.

“If you don’t take part, you will not be part of what is coming up and the whole essence is for you to choose people, who will really touch your needs and if you sit down at home and people, who are not credible gets there, it will not be their fault when they give you bad result and that is what we don’t want.”

He said adequate security measures had been put in place to ensure that voters cast their votes in a peaceful atmosphere and also forestall any breakdown of law and order, saying what was left was for people to come out and perform their civic responsibility.
The Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, waited till about 2:03pm yesterday before casting his vote due to the late arrival of materials. He arrived his polling unit in Ward E area of Agege Local Government, around 11:30am but could not cast his vote after waiting for several hours for the election materials.

Notwithstanding the logistics problem that trailed the process, Obasa commended LASIEC for a free and fair election, shortly after casting his ballot.

“I think the process is perfect and I am satisfied by the process. It is too early to pass judgment. There was delay in the morning and that was later corrected. With the trend we saw, I believe they went through the right step. The essence of people taking part in the election is to serve the people to bring about development. So, at the end of the day, what we expect from those who are contesting is to serve us diligently,” Obasa added.

Also, shortly after voting, a former Lagos State governor, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu seemed impressed with the exercise, because according to him, “It is going on smoothly. It is peaceful. The people respect the call of the party. They came out. Look at the ballot boxes, within a short period of time, it’s getting filled up. It is going on smoothly.”

His wife and Senator for Lagos Cenral, Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu, also applauded LASIEC and the security operatives for maintaining a peaceful and orderly election, after casting her vote too at polling unit 034, Bourdilon Road, Ikoyi.

“As you can see, I don’t even have an umbrella. We are voting for ourselves and not the candidate, because we have to vote for a party which is working to ensure we have stability in the nation. Although it is raining, I appeal to people to come out and vote. If they do not vote, they should not complain that those elected are not doing anything.

“This is the time to show solidarity and we believe this government is working. It is not for you but for generations unborn in order to put things in place. We won’t be doing this if we do not believe in this government and the system,” she said.

An APC Chieftain and businessman, Chief Lanre Razak, who also cast his vote at Governor Ambode’s polling unit, said the party strongly believed in strengthening democracy, adding that the conduct of the election would go a long way to develop the political process.
“We are lucky to have Ambode as our governor in Lagos State. He has done a lot in infrastructure, in education in so many areas and he is a fair and just person. If you come to Epe, you would see many developments. Not only here, go to other parts of the State, you would see noticeable change and serious development,” Rasak said

A stalwart of the PDP in Lagos and aspiring national chairman of the party, Chief Olabode George, who was yet to have a full situation report when accosted by THISDAY, said “I have not heard much from the field but the turnout is very low. It is a sign that people are disenchanted. Our boys are reporting some incidences. It is everywhere from what I have heard. But from what I have heard, we are going to do well in the election.”

On his part, spokesperson for the Lagos PDP, Taofik Gani, however called for the cancellation of the exercise over alleged malpractices.
“We are calling for the cancellation of the election, particularly in Mafoluku Oshodi. Four ballot boxes were stuffed in my presence. I advise Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to direct the LASIEC woman to cancel the elections. That is apart from the fact that the election material came late. People did not come out on time due to the downpour and we also discovered that 95 of the ad hoc staff used by LASIEC are APC members.”

Also, the Labour Party media person, Pastor Biodun Popoola, said “The exercise was a disappointment and it falls short of the expectations of the electorate. In almost every part of Lagos State, APC thugs in collaboration with some LASIEC officials snatched ballot boxes, for example, in Agege, Oshodi, Lagos Island, Ifako-Ijaiye, Odi-Olowo, Mushin, and virtually in every other parts of Lagos. We are therefore calling on LASIEC to cancel the election and conduct fresh elections.”

Former Lagos APC Publicity Secretary, Joe Igbokwe, toed the line of his party, when he said “I think she (LASIEC chairman) has done well with the seamless manner the election has gone on. The security is particularly commendable, because of the special attention paid to flash points like Odi Olowo, Orile Agege, Amuwo Idofin, Orile Agege, Mushin, and so on. Minus the early morning downpour, I think it was a peaceful exercise.

“We are not surprised by the result we are getting because we campaigned as if there was formidable opponent in place. I would not be surprised if we win all the seats because the PDP is still fighting within themselves. In fact, 24 hours to the election there is still confusion in the opposition camp.

Labou Party candidate for Ijaiye Ojokoro, Adefarati Olatunbosun said “For now, I would say the election is peaceful. The conduct is peaceful. There has not been report of fracas. But we are still waiting to see the end of the election before we can place a verdict on the entire process.”

Also speaking, the Public Relations Officer of LASIEC, Dapo Olatunde, said “Judging from what we saw on the field, the exercise went. Where there were little delays in getting sensitive election materials, it was due to the rain. That also affected the turnout of voters. You can see flood everywhere. You know some of those things are sensitive to water. And in some cases, some of the house owners were demanding money from the electoral officers to put the ballot materials in front of their houses, so they had to relocate to other places. But in all, I can tell you that it went well.”

Leader of the Hausa Community in Ikoyi/Obalende, Alhaji Mohammed said they were excited to come out and vote because they had been getting dividends of democracy.

A concerned resident, Mr. Nurudeen Olowokowo, said at some point, they went round with umbrellas at Ikoyi/Obalende to invite others from their homes to exercise their franchise, when the apathy that characterized the exercise became disturbing.