The Local Government Council Elections in Rivers State, South-South Nigeria was faced with widespread low turnout of voters. This was as many irregularities further worsened the well publicised council polls in the state.
The Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission, RSIEC, had distributed sensitive and non-sensitive material for the elections on Friday to allow for earlier commencement of the process, Saturday.
But, regrettably material for the polls arrived most polling units late, while in few places material for the elections did not show up at all. At voting time, some polling stations had few voters, who are believed to be from particular political party, while the many residents preferred to observe ‘stay-at-home’.
Speaking, a youth leader from ward 8, Bori, Khana Local Government Area, Mbadiwe Marcus said election did not hold in the said ward. Marcus said election did not hold in the ward because the elections officers did not bring the results sheets for the poll. He said: “There is no sensitive material and result sheets for the ward. The electoral officer was not seen since elections started and this is 1:00pm.
“I went to the station to receive our material and why they brought there was no result sheet in it.” Also, Hon Kenneth Barikpowikpo, Councillorship Candidate of Africa Democratic Congress, ADC in ward 17, Bori, said he did not vote because election did not hold in their area.
He said: “There was no election in ward 17 Khana. We did not see result sheet for the election. We tried to interrogate the SPO why there are no result sheet. He said the EO should be asked. “If they announce anybody in our ward it is fake. T
here was no election in the said ward. I want the ward to hear and know.” Similarly, the Councilorship candidate of Social Democratic Party, SDP, ward 11, Abalama in Asari-Toru LGA, Daerego West, expressed dissatisfaction with the process.
West alleged that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, highjacked the voting materials, and denied him and other parties the right to cast their vote, calling for cancellation of the election.
He alleged that the PDP snatched the original result sheet meant for the election, passing vote of no confidence on the State electoral umpire, RSIEC, for collaborating with the PDP to rig the elections. But, supporters and candidates of the PDP have expressed confidence in the process, commending RSIEC for conducting and tree and fair election in the state.
Speaking, the incumbent Chairman of Akuku-Toru Local Government Area and candidate for the poll, Rowland Sekibo, described the process as impressive. Sekibo said: “The election is impressive on turnout of voters. The only complain is that a lot of electoral officer and material have not arrived units till 10:00am.
I am not aware of voters apathy in the LGA.” Sekibo, who spoke after voting at his polling unit, ward 1 unit 2 described the voting process as peaceful, noting that voters turnout was low. He said he has intimated the RSIEC on the shortage of material and expressed hope that more materials would be brought and distributed across wards.
The Chairmanship Candidate of PDP in Ikwerre LGA, Mr Samuel Nwanosike, said the election was transparent and credible. He said: “The election went very well. For the first time in the history of Rivers State we have an election where there is no mamming and killing of people.
“We did not hear bad news from this process. This has increased the confidence of the people to participate in future elections. It clearly shows that the state government has gotten it right.”