Low turnout of voters was widespread across the 16 local government areas of Ekiti State on Satuday, as elections into the local government councils were held.
Only agents of the Peoples Democratic Party were sighted in most of the 2,195 polling units across 177 wards in the state, raising questions over the claims by the State Independent Electoral Commission that five political parties were participating in the polls.
The state governor, Ayodele Fayose, had reviewed the restriction order from 4pm to 2pm, to allow businessmen and women to do some commercial activities in preparation for the Christmas celebration.
The All Progressives Congress, which boycotted the election, criticized Mr. Fayose for shoddy conduct of the polls, saying he would be held accountable for the N300 million expended on the elections.
There was also a breach of SIEC’s directive on the procedure of the election stipulating that accreditation would start at 8am and end at 12noon, with voting starting at 1pm.
Instead voters were allowed to do accreditation and voting simultaneously, although SIEC Chairman, Kayode Bamisile, condemned the practice.
To underscore the low turnout, as at 11.20am on Saturday when reporters visited some of the units in Ado-Ekiti, only 16 voters had been accredited and voted out of the 626 registered voters at ward 05 unit 016 Oke Iyinmi, while only 20 of 1,250 registered voters were accredited and voted at unit 008 ward 9.
Also at Ajitadundun polling unit 006 ward 9, 16 persons were accredited out of 1, 471 as at 11.41 am, while 18 out of 1,046 were accredited and voted at unit 17 ward 10 as at 11.49am.
An encouraging turnout was witnessed at Ijigbo Ward 4 unit 007, where 105 were confirmed to have been accredited and voted out of 581 registered voters at about 12pm.
At Agbado/Oyo Ward, Unit 003 of Ikere Ekiti in Ikere Council Area, only 35 were accredited out of 426 registered voters as at 10.10 am , while a total of 32 were accredited at unit 004 out of 405 in the same ward.
The same situation was witnessed at Oke Iruku Ward unit 005, 54 out of over 500 registered voters were accredited as at 10.30am.
In his reaction, Mr. Fayose, described the polls as very free, fair and credible, while also lauding the voters for turning out “massively” to cast their votes.
“The information we are getting have been impressive. The turnout was
impressive. In some places, the turnout were very impressive, while people came out late in some areas. But the turnout has been impressive,” he said.
“I have been contacting those on the field what we are getting were quite impressive and I commend our people for that.”
SIEC Chairman, Mr. Bamisile, on his part, noted that all the participating parties wrote to SIEC of their intention to provide party agents, saying the commission was not responsible for the absence of agents of other parties at the polling units.
According to him, it would be wrong to conclude that there was low turnout, given that there were high turnout of voters in some areas such as Ilawe, Ise, Emure , Omuo Ekiti, among others.
He promised that the outcome of the election would be announced as soon as the results were turned in by the Local Government Electoral Officers.
The APC has however commended the people of the state for boycotting the elections, saying “the people behaved honourably for staying away from the election boycotted by all
political parties except the PDP.”.
The Publicity Secretary of the party, Taiwo Olatunbosun, in a statement, said the widespread apathy across the state was an evidence that Ekiti people had rejected Mr. Fayose and his PDP.
He said across the state, Ekiti people spoke with one voice by staying in their homes and watching from distance as PDP members engaged in multiple thumb-printing to give the impression that there was massive turnout of voters.
“To cover their shame in most of the empty polling units, PDP members and Fayose’s political appointees engaged in multiple thumb-printing to give a false impression of a large turnout of voters,” he said.