The All Progressives Congress (APC) and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Abia have expressed disappointment with the conduct of Friday’s Local Government Chairmanship and Councillorship elections in the state.
The Chairmen of the two leading opposition parties, Chief Donatus Nwankpa of APC and Rev. Augustine Ehiemere of APGA, said in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that there was no election in the state.
Nwankpa said that reports from the field showed that the exercise did not take place in about 75 per cent to 80 per cent local government areas of the state.
“Many local government areas did not take part in the election. There were no voting materials for the election,” he said.
He alleged that the Abia State Independent Electoral Commission (ABSIEC) was not prepared for the election.
“There was never any sign of preparedness for the election by ABSIEC,” he said.
The APC chieftain said that the party was still evaluating the exercise and would soon come up with its formal position on the election.
Speaking in a similar vein, Ehiemere said that “as far as APGA is concerned, there was nothing like local government election in Abia.”
In his opinion, the exercise was designed to ratify the appointments already made to fill the chairmanship and counsellorship seats.
He said that APGA did not take the poll seriously because “we knew ab nitio that there will not be anything like election.
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“That is why you did not see any strong opposition against the Peoples Democratic Party in the election,” he said.
Ehiemere, however, warned that what happened would not be tolerated in 2023, saying, “It is not going to be business as usual in 2023.”
Meanwhile, NAN reports that the election was generally characterised by voter apathy, late distribution of electoral materials and arrival of ABSIEC officials in all the polling units visited.
Also, ballot boxes were mounted on the same table used by the electoral officers for accreditation of voters.
There were no polling booths and voters were made to tick for the parties of their choice and cast their ballot papers in the presence of the electoral officials.
Some election observers kicked against the “poor arrangement”, saying that the absence of polling booths denied the voters the opportunity of secret ballot.
There were, however, no reports of any violence, such as the snatching of ballot boxes, shooting or thuggery during the exercise.
Also, many residents of Umuahia went about their businesses without regard to government’s restriction on human and vehicular movement during the election.
At Uturu in Isuikwuato LGA, the turnout of voters was generally low at the polling units visited.
NAN learnt that voting materials were brought to the area around 2pm and actual voting started thereafter.
Some electoral officers told NAN that they commenced voting “at the time we received signal from our Chief Security Officer (CSO) to start”.
According to Mr Donatus Udeke, the Supervisor, Unit 004, Ward 10, Rotary Club, Uturu, materials got here before 2 pm but we waited until we got signal from the CSO to start by 2pm.
NAN reports that voting did not commence as at 3.45pm at Unit 001, Ward 10, Abia State University Uturu (ABSU) and Ward 7, 8 and 9 in Uturu.
Mr Nicholas Udeogu, the Polling Clerk at ABSU, attributed the poor turnout to the absence of students in school.
He said that most of the registered voters in the unit were students, adding that they were on vacation.
A voter at Ward 8, Akpukpa, Uturu, Mrs Gloria Eke, said that she went to her polling unit several times but voting had yet to commence.
“Many people were tired of waiting, so they went back home. I have been here thrice today.
“The electoral body should improve on their performance next time,” she said.
NAN learnt that there were no provisions for Persons With Disabilities (PWD) to enhance their access to voting in the election.
“We don’t have provision for them but if any blind person comes, we will guide him or her on how to tumb print, according to his or her choice,” an election official said.
Mr Chinonso Ezeala and Mr Friday Udeogu, both PDP and APC agents, described the process as peaceful and satisfactory.