Despite the over sixteen political parties that fielded candidates for the Rivers State Local Government Elections held Saturday, the empty streets and a handful of persons spotted at polling stations across the state are glaring evidences of the quandary of low voter turnout, which has become a norm in elections held in South South Nigeria.
Gokana, Bonny ,Obio/Akpor, Port Harcourt City and other LGAs witnessed an unusually calm elections, allaying projected fears of unrest which promotes the NSCDC and NPF to deploy thousands of personnel to the state.
Bonny LGA may have witnessed the maximal throng of voters in this election as most persons who attested to participating were from there. Ms Gift Williams Ankio who participated in the PDP primaries but did not make it through, asservated that the elections in Ward 3 Unit 6 where she casted her votes, were peaceful; and urged those who would would emerge as winners to make sure they deliver on Electoral promises even as they “carry every one along”.
In PortHarcourt city, a number of eligible voters interviewed said they boycotted the elections as they were sure that the ruling party had their already cooked up figures that would be presented at the conclusion of the exercise. They described the elections as ‘fulfilling all righteousness”.
One Princewill Chinedu who claimed that party agents were not well represented in the elections when interviewed by NAN said ”I have gone to my ward and it’s only PDP and APGA agents present and these agents I know them as PDP members, so casting my vote looks like am stabbing myself because I know that this is not proper election.
“You can see people walking around, see boys playing football on the street, this should tell you that people no longer want to fool themselves in the name of voting.
“Government should do the right thing regarding our current system of election, they should start voting through electronic system so that anybody that win election will work for the masses that elected him or her into that position,” he said.
But, Sunday Uche, another resident said Nigerians have duties to elect their representatives at all levels.
”I have voted and am happy that I voted because it is my constitutional right to vote and elect those who will lead the local councils in the state.
”Many people have decided to boycott the election for some reasons, but the same people will start complaining about bad governance after failing to play their roles in ensuring that good candidates were voted to power.
“I think there’s need for us to change our attitudes of boycotting elections and complaining of bad governance later,” he said.
Kelechi Nwogu, member of the 7th, 8th and 9th Rivers State House of Assembly, representing Omuma State Constituency took to his Social media page after voting. He wrote “Earlier today I performed my civic responsibility by casting my vote in the Rivers State council election, at Ward 8, Unit 3 Omuma LGA.
The election in Omuma has been generally peaceful, the voter turnout was very impressive. This further proves that vast majority of Omuma people are willing more than ever to be part of the political process of developing Omuma.
I commend RESIEC and security agents for providing a level playing field for all the candidates/parties on the ballot today. This is unarguably one of the most peaceful local government election in Rivers State.
The administration of His Excellency, Governor Nyesom Wike has once again exhibited effective leadership.”
Though marred by low voter turnout, the elections were peaceful , sensitive materials arrived on time, no unrest, which are a giant improvement to what Elections in Rivers state used to be in the past.