Kwara by-election peaceful, records low turnout

The by-election for the Patigi state constituency of Kwara State House of Assembly witnessed a low turnout on Saturday.

This is just as electorate called for the creation of more polling units in the local government area.

The exercise, which held in just one local government area that made up the constituency, started around 8 am with few electorates on queues, except at Gadazaba in Lade ward I, Dispensary centre in Patigi ward III and Patigi central office in ward I.

Reacting to the low turnout of electorate, the state resident electoral commissioner, Mallam Garba Attahiru Madami, said it was not unusual, adding that the election was not a major one.

“Low turnout was expected because the election was not a major one and moreover, there was not enough time for preparation for it, we have to thank the National Orientation Agency (NOA) for their support in terms of sensitisation campaign for the exercise.”

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Also speaking after casting his vote, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Mohammed Salihu Yahaya, who voted at Gadazaba polling unit in Lade ward I with APC candidate, Hameed Adam Rufai, who he said was his cousin, said: “The large turnout of voters at our polling unit was a sign of love and excitement of producing next representative from our people, irrespective of where the pendulum swings.”

Mohammed, who called for the creation of more polling units in the local government area, said his people always passed through a lot of physical distress during the election as a result of the distance they have to trek before getting to their various polling centres.

“We appeal to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to give us more polling units in Patigi local government, our people trek like 14 kilometres before getting to their polling unit and this distance even discourage some people from coming out to vote.”

Also addressing journalists after casting his vote was the candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC}, Adam Hameed Rufai, who happen to be a junior brother to the late lawmaker, Saidu Hameed Rufai, gave kudos to the security agencies and INEC for the peaceful election.

The state commissioner of local government and chieftaincy affairs, Aisha Ahman Pategi, who is also from Patigi local government also called for the creation of more polling units in the local government area saying, “definitely, insufficient polling unit is one of the challenges, it was expressed during 2019 general election, if more polling unit are created, it would make easier for the electorate to exercise their right”.

She, however, applauded the electoral umpire and security agencies for the peaceful exercise.

In his observations, the State Director, National Orientation Agency, Segun Adeyemi, tasked INEC to improve on the arrangement of materials at the polling units in their subsequent elections, most especially, on the cubicle, which should protect the voters while casting their votes.

He, however, applauded the INEC for timely distribution of election materials and described the bye-election to be a peaceful one and expressed hope that the atmosphere would remain calm to the collation of the votes and announcement of the winner by INEC.

Reacting to the calls for the creation of more polling units, the INEC commissioner said the national body of the commission is working on the creation of more polling units across the country, in line with calls from the electorates.

“Yes, we are aware of the calls for the creation of more polling units and national body of the commission will do that before 2023 general elections,” he said

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