Coalition laments voter apathy in Ekiti LG polls, says rural communities are neglected
Urges PDP not to be defeatist
The Nigerian Human Rights Community (NHRC) has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to increase the number of polling units in the country’s rural areas to avoid voter apathy.
Speaking on the just concluded council election in Ekiti State, the group urged INEC to increase the number of polling units in Ekiti North, Ekiti East and Ekiti Central communities and farm settlements in the senatorial districts before the general election.
In a statement issued yesterday and signed by the Assistant Secretary, Taiwo Adeleye, and the Programme Officer, Fred Ojinika, the group, commended the state’s Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) for holding what it described as a peaceful election.
It urged the affected communities, SEIC and all stakeholders in the state to lead the campaign for more polling units in the state.
The group, which noted there was low turn out in the election, also identified lack of voters’ interests in community governance, low funding of councils by the Federal authorities leading to minimal impact on the political economy by local administrators. It also identified lack of community structures and effective presence of many of the registered political parties who appeared to focus mainly on National Elections, as reasons for the apathy.
NHRC hinted that in the build up to the Ekiti council election, while the ruling party engaged in aggressive campaigns, the other political parties appeared not to make any attempt to either campaign or mobilise their supporters to participate in the election.
The group said such resignation to fate is self-defeatist and should not be encouraged by the opposition, adding that the vigorous campaign of the ruling party suggested that the party did not secure easy victory at the poll ab initio.
NHRC stated that the boycott of the election by the main opposition, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), might have affected greater engagement in the electoral process, while urging the opposition party to constructively engage the electoral process instead of outright boycott of future elections.
The statement reads: “Distribution of polling units in Ekiti State does not meet the needs of many rural communities where voting units were sparsely stationed denying many voters in rural areas easy access to polling units.
“The peaceful atmosphere of the election reflects the confidence of the people in democracy as the best alternative and also an expression of public confidence in the state’s electoral body.
“We observe that voters exercised their rights without threats, violence or authority bully. There were no reports of violence, killings or snatching of ballot papers. Despite the security situation across the country, the election was hitch free, SEIC staff who moved from some communities to the other were not attacked while there were no noticeable cases of vote buying in any of the polling units monitored”
“The capacity of States to determine their political future is not in doubt, where there are doubts, such do not suggest that the Federal Government is better placed to conduct a superior Local Government election.
“The NHRC deployed observers and monitors in many of the 177 wards and over 140 towns and villages and there was no incidence of violence. It is commendable that armed personnel including Amotekun were not deployed across the state to man the polling units during the elections compared with what has been seen in other states of the Nigerian federation.
“It is commendable that the state security organ, Amotekun, was not dragged into local politics in this context,’’ the group said.