'Militarisation, fear of violence causes of apathy'
• Tinubu recommends fewer political parties
The severe voter apathy experienced during last Saturday’s governorship and state houses of Assembly elections in Lagos and other parts of the country have been heavily blamed on militarization of the exercise as well as fear of possible violence.
According to some residents of Lagos Island and Ikoyi, millions of eligible voters had stayed away from casting their ballot because of reports of violence, alleged manipulation, incidents of multiple deaths, among other factors that marred the conduct of the presidential and National Assembly election.
They attributed the problem to incapability of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a free, fair and credible elections, as well as discontentment on the two leading political parties in the race for the elective positions. The Corps members, however, seemed more confident, capable and prepared after experiences gathered from the presidential elections two weeks back. There was also less military presence as compared to the former elections.
While the elections were peaceful and orderly, dysfunctional smart card readers also threatened the exercise. In the polling units visited by The Guardian, voter turnout was less than 30 percent as compared to the registered voters.
At All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate, Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s Lateef Jakande/Femi Okunu polling unit 019, out of the 1,098 registered voters, only 159 accredited voters were able to vote. Here, Sanwo-Olu defeated his closest rival, Jimi Agbaje of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with 124 against 26 votes.
Also at the polling unit of Senator Remi Tinubu, the wife of the National Leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, polling unit 034, Ward 9, Falomo Police Barracks 4, only 96 voted out of 97 accredited from 840 registered voters.Reacting to why registered voters refused to vote, one of the voters at one of the units, Korede Yakub, said the state elections were not a contest but to fulfill all righteousness, as it was known that APC would win. According to him, it has become difficult for any other party to win elections in Lagos, hence there is no need for the stress of voting.
“No matter what we do in Lagos, it has become almost impossible for anybody to outsmart Tinubu,” he said, “so, why worry to vote knowing it won’t count instead of having your normal weekend rest with your family?”Another voter, Emmanuel Ogah, said people were discouraged because the presidential election results did not reflect the choice of the people.
Ogah expressed lack of trust in the electoral process, noting that the electoral umpire has failed in its promise to deliver a fair and credible election.
“Voters, especially young people, feel betrayed by the electoral commission,” he noted. “They believe that their votes did not count in the elections from February 23, and don’t trust the system enough to come out again.”He also identified that faults in the smart card readers contributed to the low number of voters because some people were too inpatient to wait for its correction.
To Mrs. Linus Iheanacho, the fear of possible violence was part of factors that was responsible for the severe low turn out.According to her, “Having seen the presidential elections and how violence and deaths were recorded, I couldn’t have risked my life as a result of today’s exercise. I decided to stay at home with my family while monitoring events on television stations.”
Meanwhile, Mrs. Tinubu lamented the participation of too many insignificant parties in the election, saying it makes it is confusing and complicated for most of the illiterate voters, as well as money and time consuming. The third time senator advised the fringe parties to align with bigger parties of similar ideologies and programmes.