Thursday, October 21, 2021

    Jonathan not surprised about low voter turnout in Bayelsa

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    Babatunde Akinsola
    Babatunde Akinsola is aNaija247news' Southwest editor. He's based in Lagos and writes on the Yoruba Nation political issues, news and investigative reports

    Otuoke (Bayelsa), (NAN) President Goodluck Jonathan on Saturday said he was not surprised about the low voter turnout in the House of Assembly polls in Bayelsa.

    Jonathan told newsmen after his accreditation that the low turnout was because the state was not conducting governorship polls same day.

    The president was accredited for voting in his Ward 13, Unit 39 Otuabla, Otuoke, in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State at about 10.48 am.

    “Naturally different levels of elections elicit different interests.

    “Presidential elections are quite interesting. Governorship elections are quite interesting.

    “If we were to have governorship elections in Bayelsa state, the mobilisation would have been higher because you need to mobilise the voters to come out.

    “But for State Assembly elections, the interest is not as high as the presidential elections or governorship elections.

    “We expect low turnout for states that don’t have governorship elections.

    “`There is no governorship elections in Bayelsa that is why the turn out may be low.

    On the better card reader performance in his ward the president attributed it to better improvement in technology.

    “It is technology. There must be some minor error and they (INEC) have rectified the fault.

    “Although I am still hearing that we have some problems of rejection but I think INEC has a way of handling their assignments.

    “The most important thing is that elections will be conducted,’’ he said

    Jonathan also said he was optimistic his party would do well in many states’ governorship and assembly polls.

    “My conviction is that PDP will do well. It may probably do better in a number of states. In some states our performance will even improve.

    “Even if you look at the last elections, our performance in some states improved, but in some states our performance was a bit low.

    “I think that in the overall PDP will do well.’’

    Earlier, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Bayelsa, Mr Baritor Kpagih, said that elections would be conducted in the constituencies where materials did not arrive in the required numbers on April 18.

    “Some constituencies are not going to the polls today because of non- receipt of sensitive materials from Abuja.

    “We discovered that in some constituencies the number of ballot papers received were short by a few numbers when compared with the number of PVCs distributed in those constituencies.

    “We tried to get the stakeholders together to agree on whether to go on with the election even with the shortfall because since from history we have never had 100 per cent turnout.

    “Because in all these areas I am talking about we had over 75 per cent of the ballot papers.

    “But they all agreed that instead of us going on with the election we should shift the date until there is 100 per cent ballot papers and basically that is the issue,’’ Kpagih said.

    The INEC commissioner said that “the case of Sagbama constituencies 1 and 2 was a bit peculiar because in one of them we have 27,000 voters while in the other constituency we have 13,000 voters.

    “Unfortunately, I think the printer made some mistakes when he was printing the ballot papers, he printed 27,000 where we had 13,000 voters and vice versa.

    “We met with the stakeholders and told them that since the idea of customisation is that of INEC then we could as well swap the ballot papers within the constituencies but the stakeholders insisted that it should not be done.

    “Of course we had to carry them along,’’ Kpagih said.

    The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the commissioner had on April 10 announced the suspension of elections in eight constituencies due to the mix up in electoral materials.

    The affected areas include: Ekeremor 1, 2 and 3; two constituencies in Kolokuma/Opokuma; and Southern Ijaw constituency 1.

    However, Yenagoa, Brass, Ogbia and Nembe Local Government Areas were not affected.

    “And that is why we are here. Except the once that are listed elections are going on everywhere,’’ Kpagih said. (NAN)

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