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APC, PDP chiefs, others appraise elections

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Electoral officials start the counting operations at a polling station in Lagos, on march 29, 2015.   First results of Nigeria's presidential election could be given from March 30, 2015, the head of the country's electoral commission said, as voting went into a second day after technical glitches.

Electoral officials start the counting operations at a polling station in Lagos, on march 29, 2015. First results of Nigeria’s presidential election could be given from March 30, 2015, the head of the country’s electoral commission said, as voting went into a second day after technical glitches.

Osun state governor, Rauf Aregbesola and his Lagos counterpart, Babatunde Fashola, have called on Nigerians to remain calm as they await the outcome of last Saturday’s elections while appraising the exercise.

While Aregbesola, the Southwest coordinator of Buhari/Osinbajo Campaign Organisation, gave kudos to the security personnel for providing cover during the exercise, Fashola appealed to Nigerians in respect of the technical hitches observed during the poll.

The Osun governor said reports from most parts of the country and the Southwest in particular indicated that law enforcement agents were civil and went about their job without molesting innocent and law-abiding citizens.

He urged them to display more of this in subsequent elections as he observed that the conduct they exhibited during the polls was a clear and laudable departure from what took place in the earlier ones, especially the governorship elections held in Ekiti and Osun states.

The governor was also full of praises for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which he said did well, regardless of a few hitches noticed during the conduct of the elections.

He said INEC deserved commendations for successfully holding the elections despite what he called “the orchestrated campaign of calumny directed at it and the booby traps put on its way by some individuals.”

According to him, the successful conduct of the polls was a further leap in the country’s quest to meet the standard already set by the developed world in the use of technology in the conduct of elections.

He said the Smart Card Readers (SCR) introduced into the weekend election despite the minor hiccups encountered in the use was an indication that the country is progressively moving away from the analogue to Information Communication Technology ICT-based electoral system.

Aregbesola disclosed further that INEC must have learnt a number of lessons from the elections, on which it could build, for a better outing in the next round of polls.

He counseled against calls by some people that SCR should not be used in the coming governorship and state’s Assembly elections scheduled for next April 11, arguing that that would amount to being overwhelmed by challenges and resigning to failure.

On his part, Fasola said although the electoral process was far from perfect, “with patience, every voter would be served and the entire process peaceful.”

He however appealed to the electoral to correct the flaws and ensure all eligible voters exercise their civic responsibility in the coming polls.

According to him, “This is a logistic operation, where you plan for the worst and expect the best. Sometimes they (logistic flaws) just happen to anyone and we move on. These are human beings and there are no perfections here. What we don’t want is for anyone to sabotage the process.

“People should also be patience with the whole process. The India process itself is not rooted in the technology but in the people. If we all really come out that we want peace no matter what, then the whole process will be peaceful. That is what you have seen in my polling unit. All these people want peace, so we are peaceful,” he said.

Fashola, who stayed on the voting queue for over two hours, noted that the process was quite peaceful in his polling unit in Surulere and in all places he had received reports, describing it as a testimony of what could be achieved if the people remain calm.

“Really and truly, I came here, found a queue and I joined the queue. I joined the queue at about 1:35 and voted around 3:50 and people are still waiting to vote. It is not finished until all other processes had been completed.

“As I’ve said, if we want peace, we will define it by our presence. If the majority of Nigerians want a peaceful election, no people in the minority can stop that process. The majority wants peaceful election and the majority in this polling booth have shown that their will would prevail,” he said.

Aganga, Obanikoro‎ too

Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga has commended the conduct of last Saturday’s polls saying that by it, the country’s democracy “has reached an advanced stage.” He said the effort of the INEC is highly professional.

According to him, the electioneering process has been very competitive and “I think the whole process is for Nigeria not about any individual. It is about allowing the government that had been performing to continue. The argument for continuity is genuine.”

According to him, the next four years will be critical in the history of Nigeria, stressing that it is important for Nigeria to have a steady ship and someone to stir it.

In the same vein Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro said he was satisfied with the process but noted that those who may have been denied voting as a result of malfunctioning card reader should be given another opportunity to vote.

However he said, “It depends on the number of card readers that malfunctions. If the numbers are huge, I mean those affected, then, there is problem. But if it is marginal, I think they can hold the election the next day. Hope not lost.
“What is happening is to take a cue from Ghana’s Presidential election few years ago, where thus who didn’t vote on the main date were allowed to vote the next day.

“It is the totality that will determine. If 25 per cent of people are marginalized across board, there will be need to review the process but if its marginal like two or three per cents, I think the society can gloss over that.”



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