The Chairman of the All Progressives Congress for Ward 7, Egor local Government Area of Edo State, Kingsley Ogeifa, has called for a law that would empower the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct council elections nationwide.
Ogiefa made the appeal while reacting to the delay in the distribution of materials during the Local Government Council election held in the state on Saturday.
He expressed disappointment over the shoddy manner the Edo State Independent Electoral Commission handled the election process just a few months after the INEC conducted a more credible general election.
He said, “I am very disappointed because it is unfortunate that at this time and age, we could witness such. The last election that was conducted by INEC, materials arrived here early. Before 8:30 am materials have been distributed.
“See what time is it. We are yet to see any sign of materials. It would have been better if INEC had handled this election. I think that should be better because the way it is now, most of the state governors believe they can do whatever they want to do because they control the state electoral commissions. I think INEC taking over will still be better,” he said.
The Labour Party chairmanship candidate for Oredo Local Governments, Daniel-Ero Onaghise called for the cancellation of the exercise.
Onaghise said, “I want to express my displeasure on this exercise. We had a series of stakeholders’ meetings where they said the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System and card readers would be used but towards the election, they jettisoned that idea. They said there would be a restriction of movement but two days before the election the governor announced that there would not be restriction of movement so at that point, we started suspecting foul play but EDSIEC assured us that everything would be fine.
“Today, it took more than six hours for materials to arrive, EDSIEC staff were not seen. I am the LP chairmanship candidate for Oredo but as I speak to you, I can’t vote because there are no materials. People have been at the polling unit since 7 am. I call for the cancellation of the exercise that is fraught with irregularities.”
Governor Godwin Obaseki who voted in his polling unit at Emokpae Primary School praised the exercise and said he believed the People’s Democratic Party would carry the day because “PDP fully mobilised in most parts of the state.”
Speaking shortly after he voted, Obaseki said, “The turnout was very impressive in spite of the rain. There was quite a considerable turnout and it showed interest in the local government election. This means that the political parties did well by going around sensitising and mobilising the electorates and the people.
“The process has been smooth and peaceful as a lot of people are still hanging around to see the end of voting. I am very impressed by what has happened as the organisation by EDSIEC has gone fairly well. You have so many people still here at almost the closing of the poll, which shows that we have a fairly decent turnout.”
Meanwhile, Brono Ogbanorovia, the Chairmanship candidate of the APC for Egor Local Government Area, had described as demoralising the delay in the commencement of the election.
“We have been here since 7:30 a.m. Now it is 10 a.m., and we are still expecting materials. It is so pathetic; you can imagine the last general election, INEC, and materials were here by 7:30 a.m.”
At the Oredo Local Government distribution office on Sapele Road, materials were yet to be distributed as of 10 am with polling officers complaining of a shortage of result sheets and stamps.
One of the voters, Faith Are, complained that the polling officers had not arrived as of 11 pm in Ozigbo and Konkord roads.
She said, “I am in my shop but I am yet to see polling officers that will attend to voters on Ozigbo and Konkord Street. There was no election here, even at Garrick where there are several polling units.”
It was the same story at the Adesua Girls Grammar School where voters waited for election officers to arrive with materials in vain but they never did.
Niyi Kupoluyi said that he and some other voters left the venue at about 3 pm after the polling officers failed to show up.
In Egor Ward II (Egor Primary School), materials were available but movement into the school was restricted as only those loyal to the ruling party in the state were allowed in.
It was where the chairman of the Edo State chapter of Nigeria Labour Congress, Odion Olaye voted.
At Emokpai Primary School, where Governor Godwin Obaseki voted at about 2 pm, voters did not turn up in large numbers as most only waited to see the governor cast his vote.