Low turnout, vote buying mar election in Cross River
There were general voter aparthy, and vote buying in the ongoing 2023 Governorship and State House Assembly elections in most of the polling units visited in Calabar metropolis in Cross River State.
The Guardian observed that the exercise in Calabar, reports that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) adhoc staff and the security operatives resumed duties early, and were quite orderly and civil in their approach to the electorate.
At ward one, units 001-005 in Akim town, Calabar Municipality, the INEC members of staff and the security personnel were sighted at the various polling units at 7:50 am, despite the near absence of prospective voters.
However, a few minutes after casting his vote at the same unit at 9am, the polling unit and other adjoining units, according to our correspondent, started recording a slight increase in the number of potential voters.
It was also observed that some party agents in other areas including Ward 7, unit 5, Ikot Ishie, also in Calabar Municipality, were tactically engaging most voters, promising to reward them for casting their votes for the respective parties.
The situation was not different in Ward 4, unit 15, State Housing Estate in Calabar Municipality.
The INEC workers, who came out early for the exercise, were greeted with a low turnout of voters.
One of the voters, who simply identify herself as Agnes, said the general Voters’ apathy may not be unconnected with the outcome of the previous elections held in February 2023.
However, she expressed satisfaction with the peaceful conduct of the exercise, praying that the will of the masses shall prevail.
Another respondent, who simply identified himself as Bamson, noted that the exercise was peaceful, but called on INEC not to take the peoples’ trust for granted this time around.
He said: ” Today’s exercise is orderly and peaceful no doubt, but the whole essence is about the trust in the system that matters most.
“When we observe the outcome of the last elections, we would observe that there’s peace, but uneasy peace. I don’t have a choice, but to have hope for a better outcome in today’s exercise.”
At ward 7, unit 5, the level of voter apathy was quite high compared to the last general elections held in the same area.
An observer in the unit, Mr. Okon Ete, attributed the situation to the outcome of the last elections, noting however, that all hope was not lost for his party.
“We are not surprised to see the turnout of voters in today’s election, but we have hope that our party will win. Most of our supporters are not happy with the results of the last elections, and so they refused to come out,” he said.
Also speaking, the PDP agent in Polling unit 012, ward 6, Pst. Dominic Etim, said “today’s turnout is not really encouraging compared to the Presidential election. People are aggrieved, they feel their votes were not counted in the previous exercise and still believe their vote will not be counted this time around.”