NAN – Mr Akin Orebiyii, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (INEC) in Lagos State on Saturday said that he was miffed by the low turnout of voters for the April 11 governorship and state House of Assembly elections.
Orebiyii spoke to the newsmen at the end of his tour of some polling units across different local governments in the state.
“It is not as we have expected and anticipated, given the efforts we have done going to the grassroots to mobilise people and the media work that we have done.
“We have advertised a lot, made a lot of announcements on radio and television, even online; posters, banners and flyers too.
“The only thing we did not do is go to everybody’s rooms to drag them out to come and vote.
“I don’t know specifically what else INEC or even the media ought to do that we have not done,’’ he said.
According to him, after the election, the commission will sit down again to do another assessment.
He said they would look at why, again and again in the country, we have not got to that satisfactory level of people turning out massively to participate in choosing their leaders.
He, however, said that the process had been a better experience than it was two weeks ago on March 28.
“In virtually all the polling units we have visited, I have taken the trouble to ask the voters about their experience.
“And the voters testified to the fact that INEC officials were able to report to the various polling units as early as 7 am, which was really our target.
“Apart from the self-assessment we have carried out on our performance of March 28, we also insisted that the Registration Area Centre (RAC) should be open and utilised.
“And we ensured that we made use of these RACs because they are the closest place to the polling units, some of which are about 10 minutes drive.
“Since we were able to make use of these RACs, it was possible for us to deploy our men and materials to various polling units in time“.
Orebiyii said that the commission secured maximum support from the transport union and voters.
“In addition to this, we also got better support, in terms of operational delivery from the transport union.
“Their vehicles arrived on time and they also slept with our men and materials at various RACs, unlike what happened two weeks ago.
“I must also put on record the conduct of voters. They came out quite early in a number of places and they were very cooperative.
“They were also patient all day. They didn’t mind the sun; they were able to queue in the sun, first to get accredited in the morning and then to vote. I could see a very jovial attitude among the voters“.
The REC appealed to the voters and party leaders to ensure peaceful conduct till the end of the exercise.
He said:“They should not complicate matters for us as we begin to collate the results later in the day.
On security, he said that there were some pockets of misbehavior in some quarters.
“In one or two polling units somewhere in Epe, we got information that there could not be common agreement among voters.
“I wouldn’t know precisely what was the cause and the exercise was being held up for some time.
“Apart from that, there were skirmishes in three places in Ibeju-Lekki in the morning.
“Our people were ambushed on the way; they seized our materials and our people had to go back to the RACs.
“But eventually, we were able to get some other materials since we have backups and we deployed our men again to these polling units.
“I have called the security agents to move in so as to support our activities there,’’ he said.
Earlier, he said that the commission deployed 100 technical officials across the state to take care of problems in the event that there were faulty Card Readers.
Orebiyii told newsmen that the effort was to ensure smooth accreditation exercise.
“We have deployed about 100 technical officials to fix Card Readers in all the areas where we will have issues.”
He said that the commission deployed 12,131 Card Readers to 8,462 polling units in the state.
In unit 013, Ward 09, Lagos Mainland Local Government, out of the 60 accredited voters as at 10:00am, 10 had issues with thumbprint.
The turnout for accreditation was low as only 60 out of 614 registered voters in the unit had been accredited as at 10:10am.
Also in Gowon Estate, Ward 8, units 005 and 006, Alimosho Local Government Area, Card Readers were problematic as they did not authenticate many of the registered voters as at 11:45am.
Only 77 out of 468 registered voters were accredited as at 11:56a.m. in polling unit 011 in ward 08 of Somolu LGA.
The situation was not different in polling unit 012 in ward 8 in Ikeja LGA as only 34 out of 483 registered voters were accredited as at 12:30.
In Mushin, only 35 out of 339 registered voters were accredited at polling unit 032, in ward 08 at 12.48p.m.
In another voting point in the same unit, only 88 out of 282 registered voters were accredited as at the same time.
Also, in polling unit 003 in ward 4 in Mushin, only 90 out of 440 registered voters were accredited as at 12:52pm while only 114 of 389 were accredited in polling unit 02 of the same area as at 1:01p.m.
In polling unit 001 of Ward 4 of the same LGA, only 56 out of 274 were accredited as at 1:10pm and as at 1:20p.m., only 160 out of 586 were accredited at polling unit 001 in ward 12.
Meanwhile, voting was underway by 1.30p.m. in many polling units in Badagry, Oshodi and Alimosho areas of Lagos State following the end of accreditation.
At polling units in Badagry, reports that voting commenced earlier in some units due to early accreditation of voters.
Voting was underway in polling units 15, 16, 17, 21 and 22 in Ward A; polling unit 9 in Ward F; polling unit 11 in Ward E; and polling unit 23 in Ward J.
Also Mrs Safurat Abdulkarim, Deputy Governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) voted in polling unit 9, Ward B.
Voting had commenced in some polling units visited in Oshodi, Lagos, as at 1.40 p.m.
Voting was also underway in some polling units visited in Ajao Estate.
In Alimosho, Mrs Adejoke Adefulire, the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, cast her vote by 2 pm at Ward E, unit 059 in Egbeda area.
She lauded the early arrival of the INEC officials and the hitch free accreditation exercise at the various polling units in Egbeda area of Alimosho Local Government Area.
“Infact, I give kudos to INEC for their early arrival and successful accreditation exercise.
“During the last elections, it was a funny experience, because the card readers rejected me three times, it finally accepted my finger print after the third time.
“So I give kudos to them this time around for the development and progress so far,” she said.
The deputy governor also said that the low turnout of the voters might be as a result of the delay in accreditation and voting in some of the units in the previous election.
The deputy governor advised the people to always show interest in exercising their franchise in order to challenge any government that performed below expectation.