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Ad-hoc officials’ protest, late arrivals mar elections in parts of state

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PHOTO: PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP


Protests over unpaid remunerations by ad-hoc staffers of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in some parts of Lagos on Saturday fueled voters’ apathy in places like Ejigbo, Isolo, Okota, Mile 2 and parts of Festac in Lagos State. The development, which led to late arrival of officials and election materials to polling units, ensured that an average of 20 per cent of registered voters cast their votes, despite very peaceful ambience.

At the Ejigbo INEC’s Registration Area Centre (RAC), for instance, enlisted Corps members and other ad-hoc staffers downed tools and refused to head for their allotted polling units in protest against unpaid allowances for Polling Officers and their assistants.The Guardian learnt that the remuneration was for accommodation and feeding for participating in February 23 Presidential and National Assembly elections a fortnight ago.

One of the Corps members, Omotilewa Adams, said her mates were asking for their dues, stating that their colleagues in other local governments had been paid.“Why is ours different in Ejigbo? We know that we are entitled to N10, 000 per person for each election. Other people have been paid, except us. Once we conduct this state’s elections, that will be the end. We don’t trust these INEC people; that is why we are demanding for payment,” Adams explained.

Initial efforts by the Chairman of Ejigbo LCDA, Muftau Obe, to appeal to the good conscience of the aggrieved officials fell on deaf ears. Part payment of N20, 000 per polling unit, however, softened the ad-hoc staff, who started moving to assigned polling units at 11:30a.m.

At some of the units observed, the electorates, despite the inclement weather, remained on the queue and relieved to see the officials arrived. In others, the potential voters simply switched to gaming activities or withdrew to their houses.The situation was not any different at some polling units in Isolo, Mile 2 and Festac, as electoral officials did not arrive until around 12 noon.

Candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) for House of Assembly Oshodi-Isolo II Constituency, Oseni Olajide Ahmed, only cast his votes at 1:05p.m., citing the late arrival and the need “to calm the tension among family and friends, and observe the atmosphere knowing that in the last elections, this was a volatile area with a lot of electoral violence.”

“I can see that everywhere is peaceful today but the turnout is very low. But INEC has always being like that; poor arrangement. Everything about them is political; always giving it to the ruling party,” Ahmed alleged.Former Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos, Henry Ajomale, shortly after casting his votes at the 013 unit of Ward F3, Okota, described the atmosphere as very peaceful, unlike in the recent outing that was marred by electoral violence and snatching of ballot boxes. Ajomale said notwithstanding the re-run for presidential and national assembly elections at 12 booths in Ward F3, Okota, the turnout were abysmally low.

“There was so many crowd of voters during the last election that voting did not finish until 6p.m. But today, they are very scanty and already done with by 12noon despite the officials coming late.“I feel that INEC could have done better than these issues of not paying auxiliary staff. That delayed their coming out early and in some of our centres here, they are just arriving by noon. Most of the people that had queued even before 8a.m., the elderly in their 70s and 80s, left around 10. You cannot expect them to keep standing in the sun for four hours.“So, they went back home and calling them to come back will be very difficult to understand, except to those that are very committed. Certainly, it will have effects on the elections because I don’t understand why today, of all days, that INEC officials will decide to go on strike.”


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INECOmotilewa Adams
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