Across Nigeria, especially in the South East zone, last Saturday’s presidential and federal legislative elections were eventful. National Light’s reporters made random stops over at various polling units across the region and during the elections and returns with interesting reports. Excerpts
FEDERAL positions’ elections held last Saturday were marked by challenges. The results that came from them are still in contention in many quarters. There are many embittered losers and several happy victors.
Victory lines and voices of caution
Winner of the House of Representatives election for Anambra-East and Anambra-West federal constituency, Chinedu Benjamin Obidigwe is elated by his triumph. He has thanked voters while noting that in every contest there will always be winners and losers. He then appealed to those with who he contested for the position to cooperate with him to make life meaningful for their people.
He said: “The people of Anambra-East and West have suffered for too long a time due to poor representation. My sojourn to the ‘green chamber’ will witness quality representation in the constituency.”
In another development, the director-general Atiku-Obi presidential campaign council in Anambra State, Harry Oranezi has alleged that PDP and other well-meaning Nigerians are saddened over what happened in some parts of the country including Anambra State where he said there were pockets of skirmishes evident in the desperation of the APC to return to power by every means.
He said what happened in Lagos, Rivers and some other states were sad episodes compared to 2015 general elections when former president Goodluck Jonathan was in power . According to him, such were clear-cut evidence that president Mohammadu Buhari has resorted to violence to win the 2019 presidential election.
Dr. Oranezi who spoke with newsmen at the INEC headquarters Awka, alleged to truncate the votes meant for the PDP.
Winner of House of Representatives for Anaocha, Njikoka and Dunukofia Federal constituency, Val Anyika also expressed his commitment to pay priority attention to educational development his federal constituency.
Anyika who defeated the incumbent federal lawmaker, Ferdinand Dozie Nwankwo, said one of the remote reasons why he would give utmost priority to education was that he has resolved to issue a permanent red card to a situation where by a child would be unable to pay WAEC fees in his federal constituency.
He explained further that he intends to increase the number of secondary schools in his federal constituency for his educational programmes.
He promised to inspect the execution of contracts to avoid abandoned projects in his constituency.
Anambra Central election challenges
In Awka, at the Umuzocha village Awka-Ezioliji polling unit no 007, APGA’s agent reported the shortage of 93 voting sheets each for the senatorial and House of Representatives elections respectively. He hinted that sheet were not enough for the 800 approved registered voters in the polling unit but the SPO assured that the lapses will be addressed.
The deputy speaker of Anambra State House of Assembly, Harford Oseke and the traditional ruler of UmuawuluIgwe Joel Egwuonwu expressed delight in the smooth conduct of the election and the impressive turn out of voters during the exercise, even as the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar polled the greater number of votes there.
In Amenyi quarters Awka South local government area, voting at Nkwo Amenyi and Udozo Primary School started in time. The card readers were functioning and accreditation went smoothly. In other polling units in Amenyi, it was smooth-sailing and there was no evidence of vote-buying and party representatives were watching the processes and conducted themselves in an orderly manner.
Addressing the press after casting his vote, the Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Nkem Okeke appreciated the turn-out of voters describing it as “impressive”. In Nimo, Njikoka local government area, polling unit 012 Amaokolo Square I, there was shortage of voting materials.
The same challenges were recorded in Abagana. A former Secretary to Anambra State Government, Ossy Ezenwa deplored the problems. He said: “I noticed that not many people had problem of card reader, it was very strange to hear that there was card reader problem but it will be resolved before long”.
Anambra South upset
It was indeed a moment of jubilation and fanfare as the candidate of the Young Progressive Party (YPP), Dr. Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah was declared the winner of the Anambra South Senatorial race in the last Saturday election.
Announcing the result at the headquarters of the Nnewi North Local Government, Nnewi, the INEC Returning Officer of the area, Prof. Meshach Nnama Umenweke of the Faculty of Law, Nnamdi University, Awka noted that the business mogul came first with 87,081 votes, followed by Chris Ubah of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and the incumbent Senator Andy Ubah of the All Progressive Congress (APC) who polled 52,462 votes, 51,269 votes and 13,245 votes respectively,
other elections held in the senatorial zone and the results announced showed that: the member representing Nnewi North/Nnewi South/Ekwusigo Federal Constituency, Hon. Chris Azubogu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was re-elected with a total of 54,533 votes;
Muoma Ifeanyi of the APGA won the Ihiala Federal Constituency; Okwudili Ezenwankwo of APGA won the Orumba North/South Federal Constituency, while Oba Umeorji of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) won the House of Representatives seat for Aguata Federal Constituency.
In a heartfelt message of appreciation, Dr. Ubah whose joy knew no bound extolled the good people of Anambra South for registering their confidence in him, by giving him the highly “sought after’ mandate this time to serve. He noted that his decision to contest for the Anambra South Senatorial seat was solely driven by his deep-rooted passion to champion the recovery of the Igbo economy, while consolidating on the legacies of the people founding fathers, and expressed his heartfelt gratitude to everyone who believed in him and the project. Avowing his readiness to serve his people and Ndi Igbo in general, Dr. Ubah said:
“Today, as we stand poised to build and move Anambra South to unprecedented heights, I wish to reassure everyone of you that I will not let you down. The confidence you all have reposed in me by virtue of this historic victory will be not be taken for granted as I am under no illusion of the enormity of the task ahead”.
Though the election was successfully held in Anambra South, there were certain hitches and impediments that attempted to debilitate its smooth flow in various communities across the zone. For instance, in different pooling units in Ebenator and Ukpor, both in Nnewi South L.G.A, there were recurrent issues of Card Readers’ failures which were promptly followed up with replacements by the Supervisory Presiding Officers (SPOs) of the respective pooling units.
Similarly, there was also a delay in the collation of results at the pooling units in Ukpor Ward Six which lasted until 4pm due to absence of security officer in the area, but was also promptly solved by call to the INEC Official by a National Light Correspondent, who immediately sent some men of the DSS to the venue and vote the compilation began. In Ihiala LGA, at Ubuluisiuzo town, the financial secretary of the town union, Kenneth Nnogharam commended INEC for prompt delivery of materials to the community.
Generally, the election in the entire Anambra South was peaceful and many of those who lost in their contests, including Chief Chris Ubah of PDP, and others have begun to congratulate the winners and wished them well.
Tough day for vote buying
Across the state the usual overt exercise of vote-buying was minimal. Hitherto, so many voters depended on monetary benefits on election. But not as much that voters used to ask party agents for monetary benefits before voting the party’s candidates and most times party agents make the offer first depending on the negotiation power, most voters go for the highest seller”, he said.
Most of the voters were disappointed with the failure of parties to distribute money as usual. It was gathered that this was due to fear of security agencies that monitors the spending of political parties during campaigns and the new electoral laws which bars vote-buying.
A voter who wouldn’t want his name disclosed told National Light that he left Awka for his village to vote hoping that he would make money from the election as he has been doing in previous elections this hopes were dashed.
In some polling units in Awka, some voters who spoke to National Light said they were disappointed that that money did not exchange hands for votes. Some said they wouldn’t vote in subsequent elections as that was the only time they get money from the politicians who wouldn’t remember them when voted in.
Enugu’s enthused voters, winners amid APC fury
In Enugu State, the Deputy President of the Senate and PDP candidate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, was declared winner of the Enugu West Senatorial district. He defeated Mrs. Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu, of the APC.
Ekweremadu expressed gratitude to members of his constituency for re-electing him into the Senate for the 5th time, noting the record in the that. “I am not taking this election for granted especially by the unprecedented nature of my election.
This is the first time within this part of Nigeria that someone would be elected consecutively for five times into the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It has never happened and I am not taking it for granted. I indeed feel very humbled and I give all the glory and thanks to the Almighty God who has made it possible.
“I must also thank my friends and associates, the great people of Enugu West, the industrious, enlightened, valued educated and highly accomplished people who have given me this unprecedented opportunity to represent them”, he said.
In the two federal constituencies of Enugu West, Toby Okechukwu of PDP for Aninri/Awgu/Oji River Federal Constituency defeated Vin-Martin Ilo of the APC.
Dennis Amadi of the PDP won his reelection for Ezeagu/Udi Federal Constituency, defeating Joseph Mmamel of the APC.
Former governor of Enugu State, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani of PDP was also declared winner of Enugu East Senatorial District Election. He defeated Prince Lawrence Eze of APC.
Okechukwu commended INEC for efforts in a hitch-free elections.
There were challenges of network failure which affected the card reading. In that situation, manual accreditation was used. There was also a problem arising from the Ad-hoc staff who stamped the ballot papers with running ink that spread in some parts of the ballot papers.
The problem was quickly addressed as INEC officials took the blame, gave the affected voters another ballot paper, owing up to the fault and that no vote would be declared invalid in Aninri local government area as a result of the staff mistake.
At the Central, Eke in Udi LGA, Dr Luke Mgbo told National Light that voting had been very peaceful. At Amankwo, Eke which is ward of the Minister of External Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and director general of VON, voting was peaceful but with some hitches. “The card readers malfunctioned but were fixed. Onyema said:
“The exercise had been peaceful. When ethnicity and religion are off the table, you will have a hitch-free election. For the fact that the two front runners, Buhari and Atiku are Fulani and Moslems, the problem is settled. INEC did very well by trying to be on time”.
At Egede, in Udi local government area of Enugu State , everywhere was calm, the village market was on and voters were at the polling unit excising their franchise. The APC senatorial candidate, Ibekaku commended the turn out of voters. ”We were surprised that things went well, we are impressed. They moved materials at night. For next time, I will advice that materials are not moved at nights. We don’t have enough security and the exercise was generally peaceful” she said.
In Enugu state the presidential candidate of PDP Atiku Abubakar won majority vote. The presiding electoral officer was the Vice Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Professor Ahaneku.
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State who voted at about 10am in his polling booth in Orba, Udenu LGA commended the exercise but pointed out that of the Card Readers was not functioning well. He ensured that INEC was contacted for replacement.
Dr. Pat Asadu representing Nsukka/Igboeze South Federal Constituency and the PDP candidate for the election expressed his happiness with the turnout of voters, describing it as the highest in recent times.
Also former Speaker Enugu State, House of Assembly and the APC Senatorial candidate for Enugu North senatorial zone Eugene Odoh described the voting process as commendable, noting that apart from few threats by some thugs in some areas the exercise was going on smoothly expressed confidence that he would win the elections.
APC Enugu State rejected the outcome of the presidential elections. State Chairman of the party, Ben Nwoye made the stance public at the party’s Secretariat in Enugu claiming that the results were the outcome of a collaboration between the PDP, the INEC and security agencies.
Present at the media briefing were the guber candidate of the party, Senator AyoguEze, senatorial candidates of the party, Eugene Odo, Mrs Juliet Ibekaku and Prince Lawrence Eze, as well as the House of Representatives candidates.
Nwoye alleged that “fake INEC adhoc staff were deployed in all the polling units and voting points to direct unenlightened/uneducated voters to thumb-print/vote for the PDP to the exclusion of our party agents.”
He further claimed that thugs and fake corps members were used in most of the polling units, adding “Majority of our party agents at the polling units and voting at ward levels were denied copies of the result sheets allegedly collated by the compromised collation officers”.
The Party Chairman also flayed the police, who he alleged aided the PDP to manipulate the electoral process. “We ultimately request your office to cancel the presidential and national assembly elections conducted in Enugu State on 23rd February, 2019 and prosecute according to the law, the aforementioned collaborators,” Nwoye declared.
Reacting, the spokesman of the PDP campaign organisation in Enugu State, Nana Ogbodo said the APC was crying wolf where none had existed. He said, “It’s all a figment of their fertile imagination. Thankfully, the press was a crucial observer of the entire process in the state. “All we can say is that those who fail to plan are inevitably planning to fail. Ask them how many places they stumped for campaigns in the run-up to the election.
“You do not substitute sporadic press briefings for campaigns and expect to win. For a party that is mired so much in confusion whereby no one knows who actually is the governorship candidate, does it not amount to wishful thinking to expect victory in any part of the state given that PDP under the dynamic leadership Dr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, has performed beyond extraordinary in the last three and half years in the state?
“Since they are asking for another round of election, I urge them to get ready for the governorship and state assembly elections coming on the 9th of March.
In Ebonyi, teeming turnout
In most polling units in Abakaliki, capital of Ebonyi state INEC officials came to the polling units in time. Voters turn out was high but many lamented over the malfunction of the card readers, insufficient ballot papers and ink. In most of the polling units visited, there was no record of violence as the election was peaceful and orderly and security operatives were visibly present. PDP candidate for Abakaliki/Izzi federal constituency, Hon. Sylvester Ogbaga complained that they lost one hour trying to ratify the card readers for his area.
At Amaezekwe polling unit in Ezza South, there were initial hitches with the card readers which hindered early voter accreditations. Same problem occurred at Ishieke Uburu polling unit 004.
At Nwofe Central School polling unit 018 ,Izzi local government area, The state’s Attorney General and Commission of Justice, Cletus Ofoke informed that there is high turnout of voters but the card readers were malfunctioning but was later rectified. He commended the electoral officials for the smooth conduct of the election but appealed that issues of card readers should be addressed to avoid repeated problems before the next election.
…and Umahi commends INEC
Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi commended INEC for the excellent and successful conduct of the Presidential National Assembly election in the state. Umahi who spoke after voting at Onuwafor polling unit in Umunaga ward, Uburu in Ohaozara local government area stated that the turnout of voters was an indication that Nigerians were beginning to appreciate their civic obligations, adding that the issue of card readers has to be addressed.
In another development, Ebonyi State’s governorship candidate of the Advanced Allied Party (AAP) Ogbonnaya Okorie, has stepped down for the candidate of the PDP, Governor Umahi and called on the governorship candidates of other political parties to join hands in support of the Governor’s reelection. Also the Alliance for Democracy (AD) governorship candidate, Ozuma Peter has stepped down for the governor.
Oyo Governor loses as his party wins
From Ibadan, Governor Ajimobi of Oyo State has conceded defeat and congratulates PDP’s Senator elect, Chief Kola Balogun.
While expressing appreciation to the people of the state for their peaceful conduct and large turnout during the elections, the governor said that the people of the state had shown their love for the APC by voting massively for President Muhammadu Buhari and APC candidates. The governor added, “The victory has shown the unassailable leadership of the APC in Oyo State. It has also shown that our people are appreciative of the developmental strides of the APC in the state and the country at large.”
On the loss of his bid for Oyo South Senatorial seat to the PDP, Governor Ajimobi said that would not deter him from his firm resolve and that of the APC to work hard for the party’s victory in the governorship election.
Meanwhile, the APC in the state says it has rejected the outcome of the Oyo South Senatorial District result. Speaking to newsmen, the state publicity secretary of the party, Abdulazeez Olatunde alleged that there was violence in some wards at Ibadan Southeast Local Government which affected the outcome of the election.
In his reaction, the representative of the PDP at the Oyo South senatorial collation center, Olumuyiwa Makinde described the outcome of the election as a victory for democracy and the voice of the people of the senatorial district.
In another development, Oyo State Chapter of APC has hailed the people of Oyo State for their overwhelming votes, support and demonstration of loyalty in the Presidential and National Assembly polls held overt the weekend. The party also commended its followers and supporters for ensuring that the party triumphed during the polls.
The party’s publicity secretary Olatunde appreciated the people for their turnout and peaceful conduct during the elections, alerging that despite the vote buying by PDP, the will of the people still prevailed.
The party’s spokesperson said that winning two Senatorial seats and nine house of representatives 13 seats showed that APC is still the party to beat in the state and appealed for support in the forthcoming governorship and house of assembly elections.
Security agent caught red-handed in Ekiti
In Ekiti State, the Directorate of State Security DSS has dismissed one of its staff, Jaja Smith Otelemaba, involved in bribe taking from motorists during the performance of election duties in Ekiti State. According to a press release signed by the PRO, Peter Afunanya the picture of staff had surfaced on the Social media wherein he was presented as negotiating with a motorist for financial patronage. ”In line with the agency’s’s disciplinary procedures, he was tried in an Orderly Room and dismissed”.
Sharp reactions follow announcement of presidential poll results
INEC Wednesday morning announced President Muhammadu Buhari as the winner of the Saturday’s presidential election. Buhari was declared re-elected having pulled 15,191,847 votes, winning in 19 states, to defeat other 72 candidates including Abubakar, who scored 11, 255,978 votes and won 17 states and the FCT, to occupy the second position.
National Light got people’s reactions on the announced result. Atiku Abubakar said: “I reject the result of the February 23, 2019 sham election and will be challenging it in court”. In a statement he personally signed, he said that it was clear that there were premeditated malpractices in many states which negate the results announced.
“The suppressed votes in my strongholds are so apparent and amateurish that I am ashamed as a Nigerian that such could be allowed to happen. How can total votes in Akwa-Ibom, for instance, be 50 per cent less than what they were in 2015?
“Another glaring anomaly is the disruption of voting in strongholds of the PDP in Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Rivers and diverse other states, with the authorities doing little or nothing and in some cases facilitating these unfortunate situations.”
He said that one obvious red flag in the election was the statistical impossibility of states ravaged by the war on terror generating much higher voter turnouts than peaceful states. Atiku added that the militarization of the electoral process was a disservice to Nigeria’s democracy and a throwback to the jackboot era of military dictatorship.
He said that in some areas of the country, such as Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Imo states, troops deployed for the elections turned their guns on the citizens they were meant to protect, saying “this is condemnable and should not be associated with our electoral process in the future.
“I am a democrat and there are democratic avenues available to present the truth to the nation and the watching world. Already, many international observers have given their verdicts, which corroborate our observations. I am sure more will come in the coming hours and days. If I had lost in a free and fair election, I would have called the victor within seconds of my being aware of his victory to offer not just my congratulations, but my services to help unite Nigeria by being a bridge between the North and the South.
“However, in my democratic struggles for the past three decades, I have never seen our democracy so debased as it was on Saturday, February 23.Year 2007 was a challenge, but President Yar’Adua was remorseful. In 2019, it is sad to see those who trampled on democracy thumping their noses down on the Nigerian people.
“Consequently, I hereby reject the result of the February 23, 2019 sham election and will be challenging it in court”.
In another development, the former Vice President assured his supporters and the entire Nigerian people that together, “we will not allow democracy to be emasculated.
“I hope and pray Nigerians will someday summon the courage to defend democracy. That is the only way we can move away from being the world headquarters for extreme poverty.”
However, some Nigerians chose the path of fatality over the declaration of the controversial results. “Elections are over, Nigeria remains. Let’s be gallant in defeat and magnanimous in victory. God leads the way. Congratulations to Nigerians of goodwill, Suleiman Lazarus said.
Also commenting, a trader Ifeanyi Nwafor, went philosophical when he said: “We have been experiencing abject poverty, hardship. We have been rejected, subjected and abandoned for years but we survived it all. So, what difference does it make? As far as there is life, there is hope and we must all survive it”.
Nebechukwu Okafor, a security man contended that the election did not go well. “I am not happy at all with the election. It is not free and fair. In fact, it was Atiku’s result they used for Buhari.
In my polling unit at Nawfia, do you know that as at 8:00am which was the official time by INEC for the election, election did not start till 11:19am, and we were expected to stop at 2pm. How many hours left for the voters to cast their votes? And now, they are telling us that Buhari won the election.
In fact at a time, I suggested in my area that the election should be extended to 5pm to enable people exercise their franchise. Nobody cared for all these complaints and now, they say APC won. It is only God that knows where they got that result they announced”.win, it shows something is wrong somewhere”.
Henry Duru, a media practitioner said that the election was successful in such a way that we started and we finished but we still have a lot to learn , when it comes in the issue of acceptance of verdicts. “No one has a choice, he was elected by law; and for some persons to say that they don’t recognise the elected president, that amounts to nothing, this is tantamount to declaring war on the law and the constitution which is tantamount to rebellion.
It is in the position of the law that the INEC chairman who has the power to declare the winner of the presidential election has declared Buhari as the winner. So it stands unless the aggrieved parties chose to go to the election tribunal,” he reasoned.
Person simply known as Augustus said the election was free and fair and congratulated Buhari saying that he changed a lot in Nigeria and he deserved to continue.
However, he advised the people to avoid rumoring that INEC rigged the election in favour of Buhari.
Ifeanyi Nwokedi said that the election was complicated. “In my own polling unit at Orlu, he (President Buhari) got a few votes but since the INEC has declared him the winner, so be it. But the truth is that something is wrong,” said Mr Nwokedi.
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