By Kenneth Afor |
Party agents, electoral officials and residents in some parts of Lagos State at the just concluded local government elections have complained of low voter turnout in some of the polling units.
At about 12:30pm, some polling units in wards, D, E, F, G and other areas in Amuwo-odofin Local Government and Oriade Local Council Development Area visited by MAP MEDIA were scanty as electoral officials, party agents sit waiting for residents to come out to perform their civic duty.
Some of the residents who spoke to our reporter in the area said the reasons for the low turnout were because there was not enough publicity of the election while others attributed voters apathy to security challenges and the failure of government in responding to the yearnings of the people.
According to a retired civil servant, he told our reporter that insecurity hindered a lot of people from coming out to exercise their franchise but assured that by the next election things will improve and people will come out to participate in the next round of elections come 2023.
He said, “We all know what is going on in the country, for people not to come out it shouldn’t be a surprise, the President is trying all his best to combat the problem of insecurity, insecurity makes people fear not that they are not interested in voting but everybody wants to save his head, nobody wants to be killed. The president is trying his best and I believe before the next election things will be better.”
Another resident, Mr Jimoh who is a community leader in the area attributed the low turnout to lack of awareness and publicity of the election by the state government and candidates of the different political parties who took part in the election.
“I think one of the problems, why there is low turn out, is publicity, we didn’t hear enough publicity, some people are not even aware that there is an election today,” he said.
When asked what about those that were aware, he said, “those that are aware are very few, like somebody have said, you cannot convince a hungry stomach to come out queue up for election. Nigerians are hungry and another reason is insecurity, fear of the unknown, people are aware of the security situation in the country.
Also, another resident, Kamal Akorede, said people refused to turn up for the election because they are fed up with what is going on in the country.
He said, “You should not be surprised by the low turn-out if you look what has been happening for the past one to two years, you see the youths, education and all that I want to believe that we fed up with the country.”
When asked what can ginger the residents to come out en masse for the next election?
He responded, “Maybe they (government) need to lay more emphasis on information, let the current government tell us what they’ve done, we don’t see what is happening, we cannot pinpoint what they have done.”
But Engineer Femi Olabiyi, Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Satellite Town said that the local government election is the most important of all elections in grassroots politics adding that low voters turn out indirectly affects the community hence the community will be denied the necessary attention from the government.
“Low voters in the election is what we are just seeing here. Our people do not have an interest in local government elections and they forget that this election is the closest to the people, it is the one they benefit from more than the Federal elections. I don’t know what we can do to change that mindset of the people.
“The local government election is the one we should take more seriously than the state or the federal elections because these are the people that will work with you, they are those you can easily run to and complain about your immediate environment, but here we have not exhausted the first 100 we are still below 50 sheets of the booklet with the officials.
“As a politician, I am not happy either my party is gaining or losing it doesn’t matter, I often had to see a huge number that will come out that means everybody has come out to exercise his franchise but when you disenfranchise yourself from casting your vote it demoralises many of us in politics.
“Mostly in this environment like the council elections, by your votes, it determines the number of people living in this environment. But the number of people that will vote does not represent half of the population here.
“My advice to the people is that accreditation in voting in an election count but many have that orientation that once it is local government election for example in some states where the party wins all the seats but in here in Lagos State the case is different, the merit is followed if it is PDP that wins the candidate will be pronounced winner of the election.”