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Lagos APC wins Ifako/Ijaye bye-election

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Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode

Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode

• Exercise witnessed low turnout
• Stakeholders say inadequate campaigns caused of voters apathy

Candidate of the Lagos State chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Akinwunmi Nurudeen Olaitan has been declared winner of the Ifako/Ijaye bye-election held on Saturday with a total of 7,640 votes, to fill the vacant position left by Dr. Elijah Olu Adewale, who died on July 20.

Besides, political analysts in the country warned over the impending danger voters’ apathy posed to the nation’s democracy. They lamented that the electorate hardly come out to exercise their franchise except they have financial inducement.

As declared by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), on Sunday morning, Olaitan dusted the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Babatunde Babatope Akinyele who polled 1,771 votes, Yusuf Olawale Fatai of the Action Alliance (AA) had 14 votes, Adebayo Michael Akanbi of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) had 101 votes, Olugbenga Olusegun Owolabi of the Advanced Democratic Congress (ADC) had 158 votes, while the Social Democratic Party (SDP) had five votes.

Declaring the results, the returning officer of the election, Prof. Clement Aghatise said Akinwunmi won the exercise, which was conducted under a free, fair and credible atmosphere.However, the exercise witnessed abysmal low turn out, which was practically blamed on poor awareness and lack of commitment by the parties involved.

The Electoral Officer in charge of the area, Alhaji Abdullahi Kaugama, who made the observation in an interview during the election, said the commission did its best to create awareness on the exercises “but the situation yesterday was not different to what has always been the case in terms of bye-elections across the nation.”

He posited that awareness of by-election in Nigeria is low because people don’t know much about it.He also noted that the situation might have been so because political parties did not carry out enough campaigns.

He however confirmed the election went peacefully, adding that INEC officials and materials got to polling units in time.The state’s Commissioner for Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, during a routine inspection to the polling units, said that the low turnout was because political parties and their candidates did not carry out adequate campaigns.

He said INEC would not go and bring voters out to vote. The parties did not campaign enough for this by-election. Out of six political parties, only two printed posters.Owoseni said people did not really know who they were voting for but he averred that the electoral process was without any violence.

The Administrative Secretary of the commission in Lagos, Mr. Clement Oha also said the conduct was impressive despite the low turnout of voters, adding that the card readers worked effectively.

Regarding the low turnout, he commended the commission for doing the needful to sensitise the people in the constituency “we went round the nooks and crannies of the constituency for two days to create awareness; so, we cannot explain why people did not turn up.”

The PDP candidate, Akinyele also blamed the voters apathy on inadequate campaigns.As at 3pm on Saturday, voting had been concluded in most units.The Guardian also observed that population of security agents far outnumbered the voters in some polling booths, which was probably due to the fact that no fewer than 5,000 policemen including other security personnel from sister agencies were deployed to various polling booths for the by-election.

However, some of the voters blamed the apathy on the harsh economic situation in the country, saying that people were not encouraged to come as a result of the economic recession.Meanwhile, there were complains about malfunctioned card reader at Ojokoro ward E, unit 4.

When contacted for comments, APC spokesman in Lagos, Mr. Joe Igbokwe said the exercise was a walkover for his party “because we don’t have any opponent. PDP is virtually not existing in Lagos anymore.”

Hr commended the INEC for a job well done and the cooperation of all stakeholders in the exercise while promising that Olaitan will not disappointment the people he is going to represent in the House.

An election observer and National President of Society for the Protection of Human Rights, Hajia Maryanna Abba said the low turnout of voters was due to poor sensitisation of the electorates.

He commended the commission for peaceful and credible conduct during the exercise as he also praised the electorates for comporting themselves in orderly manner during the voting exercise.

The PDP spokesman, Taofik Gani, while condemning the election said the people of Lagos are completely disenchanted with the APC’s style of government and they therefore decided to face their businesses instead of coming out to vote.

He also observed that the lackadaisical attitude of Nigerians to voting when necessary is gradually becoming a threat to democracy, which he said politicians must quickly address in every way possible.

According to him, “It is unfortunate that many Nigerians today struggled to get the voters card not primarily for the purpose of voting during election but for the fact they may need it either for employment, admission or other needful purposes.

“This is a serious challenge. What we witnessed on Saturday calls for a sober reflection on our polity.”Another political observer, who didn’t want his name on print, said by the time we put together estimated number of eligible voters in Ifako/Ijaiye compared with the number of actual registered voters and the total of those who voted “there is a problem. What we noticed was that people only come out to vote whenever they were sure of getting a form of inducement. There is no more commitment from the electorate.”



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