9th March, 2019
The governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos, Mr Jimi Agbaje, on Saturday expressed concern over the low turnout of voters in the gubernatorial and state house of assembly elections in the state.
Speaking with newsmen after voting at Polling unit 004, Ward A in Apapa, Agbaje said the development was not good for democracy.
According to him, democracy is all about participation and that polls outcomes would better reflect the wish of the people with high turnout.
Agbaje said residents did not turn out in their numbers owing to security fears.
The PDP governorship candidate said that the Feb. 23 elections was characterised by violence in some parts of the state, hence voters did not want to experience same.
Agbaje added that the problem was due to poor belief in the electoral process by the electorate.
“The low turnout should concern those who want to advance the cause of democracy.
“Citizens should be part of the democratic process. They must want their voice and votes to count.
“So, when you don’t have a good turnout, there are many factors that could account for it.
“It could be as a result of what happened in the last election in terms thuggery, violence, ballot-snatching, that could have affected.
“But there are deeper issues. If people do not believe in the process, then they ask themselves, “Why bother?”
“So it is a chicken and egg situation, we just must continue to appeal to them to continue to exercise their civic responsibility,” he said.
Agbaje, who said that the card reader identified his fingerprints this time around, alleged that the device still malfunctioned in some polling units.
He said a situation where some people were accredited manually while others were made to use card readers was not good for the credibility of the polls.
The candidate said he was nevertheless optimistic of victory in the election if it was free and fair at the end of the day.
“I have no doubts about that (victory), if we do not have violence, harassment, and ballot-snatching and the kind of intimidation that we had last time.
“Once that is there, the number is on our side. We have no cause to fear,” he said.
Also a traditional ruler in Orita Akinogun, Alimosho, Lagos, Chief Martins Oladega, lamented the low turnout of voters in the area.
Oladega said that the turnout was not impressive at polling units 047, 048 and 049 in Alimosho area.
“People refused to come out today for their civic responsibility; during the first election by this time we experienced large turnout of people.
“I can remember that it was people waiting for INEC officials during the presidential election.
“You can see that everything is going on well and smoothly because the election officials arrived very early and there is no faulty card readers.
“People should know that their votes will determine what we will experience in the next four years.
“Staying back at home will not add any advantage to us or improve our government,” Oladega said.
He said that he noticed some party agents were going to houses and begging people to come out and vote.
Also speaking, a 74-year old voter, Mr Babatunde Adegbenle, said that he was impressed with INEC officials for coming and starting accreditation and voting on time.
“I came out at 7.00 a.m. and up till now, there is no trace of people coming.
“People still need to be sensitised on importance of voting during elections because most people are not aware it is their right,” he said.
Meanwhile, some voters and party agents in Lagos Island also complained about low turnout of voters during Saturday’s elections.
They attributed the development to fear of violence and possible malfunctioning of electoral materials.
A concerned voter, Mrs Samiat Dosunmu, 71, said she sent people to go from house to house and call people to come out and vote.
“We are surprised that people are not coming out to vote and we have been sending people to go and call them. In fact we have been begging them to come and vote.
“All we want is good governance from whoever wins the election.
“Some people had kept their children indoor for the fear of violence so we have been going from house to house to call them since there is no violence.
“Let us continue to pray for our leaders to lead us right. All we ask from President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is basic amenities for all Nigerians. We know Nigeria will be great again,” she said.
Also, Mrs Bisi Oladele, a trader who voted in Isheri Osun, attributed the violence that marked some polling units at Okota, Lagos during the last presidential election to the reasons behind the voter apathy.