Saturday, June 3, 2017 5:04 pm
Gov Samuel Ortom of Benue has expressed optimism that the All Progressive Congress (APC) would win the ongoing local government elections in the state.
“I am very impressed with the organisation of the exercise and the massive turnout; I am happy that people are excited to vote. I am optimistic that the APC will sweep the polls,” Ortom said in Guma, shortly after casting his vote.
The governor, who voted at 10.35 am, at Ako polling unit, Ndzorov ward of Guma, urged Benue residents to vote credible and tested candidates so as to ensure the best for the state.
He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that he insisted on holding the election “to install democracy and instill discipline, accountability and sanity in local government administration”.
Ortom said that the APC took its campaign to all parts of the stat to sell its candidates to the voters, and expressed hope that the “change” message had taken roots in the state.
He urged the people to take advantage of the exercise to install democratic structures that would do their bidding, especially in the rural areas.
Ortom commended the peaceful conduct of the electorate, saying that adequate security arrangement had been put in place toward a peaceful exercise.
He also commended the Federal High Court, Makurdi over its June 2 judgement that gave the electoral body the nod to conduct the polls, declaring that it was wrong for the rival PDP to seek to use its internal crisis as an excuse to stop the elections.
The court had thrown out an appeal by the Makarfi-led faction of the PDP, seeking to stop the election following the rejection of its candidates by the Benue State Independent Electoral Commission (BSIEC).
A NAN correspondent, who monitored the election in Gwer East, Makurdi, Guma, Tarkaa, Gboko and Butruku Local Governments, however, observed that there was a low turnout of voters.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Ex-Servicemen polling unit, where officials and materials arrived first in the state capital, received them at about 11a.m., delaying the exercise by three hours.
Accreditation and voting commenced at the units in the area at about 11.30 a.m., while it started at 11.50 a.m. L.G.E.A. Primary School, Wurukum.
At 12.10 p.m. voters who had turned out at Wailomayo Secondary School polling centre, sat around waiting for the Benue State Independent Electoral Commission (BSIEC) officials and materials.
One of the officials, who pleaded anonymity, attributed late arrival of materials and officials at polling stations to delay by BSIEC in distributing the materials.
According to the official, he said they were at the commission’s headquarters as early as possible but they did not start distribution of the materials in time, and the process was slow.
The official said that the delay made the commission’s office rowdy as many persons were there jostling to get the materials and move to their units.
The information was confirmed by Mr Philemon Ibu, a polling officer at Ityokyaa Abelanyi unit in Ankpa/Wadata Ward 2, who blamed the electoral commission for the delay.
As at 1.28 p.m., Ibu told NAN that only four voters had accredited and voted at the unit.
Turnout of voters was not impressive as many people remained indoors.
However, security was provided at all the units in the city by operatives of Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) deployed for the polls.
Solomon Nnder, an agent of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the Ward 2 units, attributed the unimpressive turnout of voters to apathy, saying that people had lost interest in elections in Nigeria.
At LGEA Primary School unit in Ankpa/Wadata ward 1, the polling officer, Mr Zwa Jeremiah, told NAN that the number of registered voters was 900 but that only seven had accredited and voted as at 1.15 p.m.
The APC agent at the polling unit, Mr Joshua Aga, said that some voters went back to their homes after a long wait for BSIEC officials and materials.
He, however, expressed hope that they would come back to cast their ballots.
The last local government election was conducted in Benue was conducted in 2012. (NAN)