Low turnout at polling units, deserted roads, closed shops and markets, characterised Saturday’s local government election held in 4,783 polling booths, 5,210 points, 610 wards across Oyo State.
For many residents, the 8am-3pm movement restriction order was an opportunity to rest indoors, with youths turning tarred roads in areas like Yemetu, Oniyanrin, Oke-Ado, Agodi, Idi Arere areas of Ibadan to football pitches.
Some of the few people, who voted said the low turnout was attributable to reservations of some persons about the election and the fact that the poll may have become a one-party show for the ruling APC with the backing out of major opposition parties.
Ajimobi commends poll, says APC is assured of victory
But, the Oyo State governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, speaking just after casting his vote at Ward 9, Unit 20, Community Grammar School, Oluyole Estate, described the election as free, fair, very peaceful, organised and an assured victory for the APC.
Ajimobi, accompanied by his wife, Florence, said: “The election is quite free, fair, very peaceful, well-organised and I commend the people of this state for continuing with this process that we have started
“I am happy that despite some misunderstandings, which always accompany exercise like this, we have come back to win. In the end, APC will win,” he said.
Speaking on the smooth sail to victory for the APC, the caretaker chairman of Ibadan South-West Local Government, Mr Gbenga Opaleye, said other parties like PDP, SDP and Accord, decided not to participate in the election to avoid inevitable loss to the APC.
In their various remarks, Oyo Commissioner of Police, Abiodun Odude and an election observer of the Forum of Civil Societies Organisation, Mr Friday Maduka, lauded the peaceful conduct of the exercise.
Voters stay away from polling units
In ward wards 5, 9 and 10 of Ibadan South-West Local Government, the voter apathy was palpable as most of the voters stayed away from the polling units.
In Unit 47 of Ward 9, with 403 registered voters, only 19 voters took part in the exercise, with the All Progressives Congress (APC) polling 11, while the African Peoples Alliance (APA )and Action Democratic Party (ADP) polled six and two votes respectively, in the chairmanship and councillorship elections.
In most areas visited by Sunday Tribune, it was evident that the adhoc officers at the polling booths had less job to do as many of them were seen resisting the urge to sleep at some of the units.
When contacted, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) OYSIEC, Mr Cosmas Oni, confirmed the low turnout, saying he had also visited three local governments as at the time he spoke with Sunday Tribune.
He said: “I also noticed apathy in most places I have monitored, except in ward three and four in Ibadan North local government area. People came out fantastically in these two wards, but over all, the election is going on peacefully which is a good news to us at OYSIEC.”
Party accuses OYSIEC of fraud
Meanwhile, there was a mild drama at Ibadan South-West Local Government Council where the spokesperson of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), Abbey Bamigboye, accused OYSIEC of disenfranchising the party’s candidate for the chairmanship election by denying him nomination form.
He said the act amounted to fraud on the part of OYSIEC.
Bamigboye stated that despite OYSIEC denying SPN nomination form to participate in the election, the only local government the party is fielding candidate in the entire 33 local government and 35 LCDA in the state, OYSIEC went ahead to include its logo on the ballot paper throughout the local governments in the state.
LG poll, wake up call for APC—Unity Forum
In another development, the APC Unity Forum, a group within the party in Oyo State, has said the abysmally low turnout in Saturday’s local government election in the state “is a wake-up call on the leadership of the party to intervene in the crisis rocking the party in the state and reposition it for a good outing in the 2019 general election.”
The Forum, in a release by its secretary, Dr Wasiu Olatunbosun, stated that the poll was a referendum on the party and that the low turnout was an indication that the party needed to be re-invigorated to stand a fair chance in next year’s elections.
He said the poor turnout was also a confirmation that the Unity Forum was the mainstay of the APC, which had the capacity to mobilise members of the public to participate in elections and vote for the party.
“We have said it for the umpteenth time that the members of the Unity Forum constitute more than 70 per cent of the membership of the APC with a history of party loyalty,discipline and proven capacity to deliver the votes.
“It was to the members of the group that the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu turned in 2015 to secure needed votes for the second term bid of Governor Abiola Ajimobi,” it stated.
The consent of the elders, who today constitute the pillar of the Unity Forum provided the leadership for the party’s success at that poll. So is the contribution of local government chairmen who toiled day and night to ensure the victory of the party.It is gratifying that 28 of the 33 council chairmen who ensured the governor’s second term victory are members of the Unity Forum.