Voters in Katsina, Dutse, and Calabar have lauded the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for early arrival of officials and election materials for Saturday’s Governorship and States House of Assembly elections.
A cross section of those who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday, described the election as an improvement over the Feb. 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Malam Adamu Shamsudin, a voter in Malumfashi in Katsina State, said he was happy that the officials arrived early enough for early commencement of the exercise, hoping that INEC would sustain such practice in future.
Shamsudin said that from reports he received from other poling units in Malumfashi town, the situation was the same.
‘’If such that can be sustained, it will add more value and respect to the officials, election process and also the outcome of the election. I am calling on the voters to conduct themselves peacefully and wisely according to the electoral act, while exercising their right of voting for the candidates of their choice,” he said.
In Dutse, the Jigawa state capital, Hajiya Zainab Muhammad lauded INEC for early commencement of accreditation and voting.
In Calabar, Mr Emmanuel Okpebiri, an All Progressives Congress (APC) agent in Ward 2 Polling Unit 018, said that INEC officials and election materials arrived very early, unlike the situation during the Feb. 25 Presidential and National Assembly Elections.
“Before I came out as early as 8.20 a.m. they were already here setting up with security officials, it is good, I am hopeful that people will come out to vote as we have sensitised them,’’ he said.
Mr Emmanuel Ibangha an agent of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the polling unit was peaceful and voting started early and he prayed that the situation would remain peaceful until the end of the day.
Crowd control delay voting in Maradun, Zamfara
Accreditation and voting have commenced in Maradun, Zamfara State, after security agents took about two hours to ensure orderliness due to massive turnout of voters.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), though election officials were at the various polling units in the town as early as 8:30am, the unprecedented number of voters made it difficult for the exercise to commence.
Security agents, mostly personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and the Nigeria Police Force had difficulty controlling voters especially at PU 012 and PU 021.
The situation was the same at Shiya Rafi 005, with five polling units, which also witnessed massive turnout of voters, mostly Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
The exercise commenced at about 10:40 a.m in most Polling Units in the area.
Women constituted majority of those who turned up to vote in the governorship and house of assembly elections in Maradun, the home town of Gov. Bello Matawalle.
Adeleke votes in Ede, lauds INEC, security agencies
Governor Ademola Adeleke of Osun State on Saturday at about 8.50 am cast his vote at Ward 2, Unit 9, Abogunde/Sagba, Ede North council area of the state, in the house of assembly election.
Speaking after casting his vote, the governor commended security personnel and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the peaceful conduct of the election in the state.
The governor said he had given directives to all security agencies to ensure that electorate come out and exercise their civic responsibilities without hindrance.
“Nobody is above the law and as the Chief Security Officer of the state, I had given directives to all security agencies to ensure voters performs their civic responsibility any without hindrance. It is their right to vote because democracy has come to stay in Nigeria,” he said.
Meanwhile, there was heavy military presence at strategic locations in the town, while vehicles entering the town were subjected to thorough searching.
The voting process, which commenced at 8:30am is going on peacefully.
Meanwhile, INEC staff arrived early at the polling units visited in Ile-Ife.
At ward 11, unit 13, Igboya Open Space, Ile-Ife, INEC adhoc staff arrived as early as 6:30am, while at ward 11, unit 7, L. A. Primary School, Ife East Local Government, INEC staff arrived at 7:00am.
Low turnout of voters were, however, noticed in some of the polling units visited in Ile-Ife.
I’m impressed, I’ve voted my conscience, says Septuagenarian
A 71-year-old retired teacher, Mr Adebayo Ojo, said on Saturday that he was impressed with the noticeable improvement in the voting process during the Governorship and State House of Assembly Elections in his area, compared with what happened a fortnight ago.
Ojo was one of the early voters in his polling unit in Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos State, where many came out to cast ballots for their preferred candidates in the elections.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondents in the area report that hundreds of eligible voters were seen at Polling Unit 036 Ward 09, Ayobo/Ijon, Alimosho Constituency 1, ahead of the arrival of electoral officers who came in at 9.29 a.m.
Accreditation and voting began at 9.45 a.m. with security personnel on ground, with the process orderly and the elderly and physically challenged allowed to cast their votes first.
“I am impressed by the peaceful coordination of the exercise, it is an improvement on the last Presidential and National Assembly elections,” Ojo said, shortly after casting his vote.
According to him, he is happy to have voted his conscience.
“I have used my vote to choose the person I want,” he said.
Ojo expressed optimism that Lagos and Nigeria as a whole would rise and shine again.
He urged the incoming leaders to prioritise the safety and security of Lagos residents.
A cleric, Pastor Ayo Ajayi, commended the seamless voting process and thanked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) personnel for being coordinated.
“There is no delay in voting, the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) is perfectly working well and fast compared to last elections. Though I have voted for my choice candidates, I pray God to let the best candidates emerge,” he said.
He said that there was need for more prayers in the land to overcome the current challenges confronting the nation.
According to him, there should be no reason for violence when the results are announced, urging contestants to accept the outcome as the will of God.
A 20-year-old first-time voter, Miss Tomiwa Kasaki, said that she felt elated to exercise her franchise for the first time and have a say in the democratic process.
“I felt proud and happy to cast my vote for the first time as a responsible citizen, I could not vote in the last presidential election because I was away from town.
“Now, I feel that I have done something for my country by voting for a good candidate and I hope my vote will make a difference to the society.”
She expressed satisfaction on the seamless process of the exercise.
Meanwhile, at some areas visited early in Ifako-Ijaiye Local Government Area, Community Development Association leaders were seen ringing bells to encourage voters to come out to vote some minutes before 9.00a.m.
Mr Bihahmin Babarinde, one of the community leaders in Ward B, Ifako-Ijaiye Constituency 2, told NAN that the bell ringing was to awaken the consciousness of voters that were laid back that voting had commenced.
A human rights activist and resident, Mr Michael Obokhale, said that though the ringing of the bell was done by a few, it was laudable.
Elder Zacchaeus Omopariwa, a 78 -year-old man, encouraged voters to come out to vote their choice so that the best would emerge and unite all.
In many areas visited, electoral officers arrived earlier than they did during the Presidential and National Assembly elections of Feb. 25.
Lagos residents are electing a governor and 40 legislators who will run the affairs of the state from May 29.