Anxiety, challenges of Lagosians during presidential election | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Anxiety, challenges of Lagosians during presidential election

Posted: Apr 2, 2015 at 2:08 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Yinka Shokunbi, Sylvester  – Enoghase and Funmi Falobi


The preparation was rife and the socio-economic pressure heightened to an unprecedented level especially few days to the much awaited Saturday March – 28 presidential elections.

Madam Abimbola Silva, 89, at the Bourdillon Ikoyi voting unit

Madam Abimbola Silva, 89, at the Bourdillon Ikoyi voting unit

Most of the markets and shopping malls in the city witnessed a huge patronage as many thronged out to make huge purchases of food items, toiletries and the likes in anticipation that the elections could become bloody or violent. This is no thanks to the apprehension that had mounted over the weeks from several hate speeches and campaigns on social media and the main stream mass media by politicians.

Aside the shopping malls witnessing overflow of customers, the fuel stations in the state were not left out of the mass patronage as motorists and residents made panic buying of the premium motor spirit in large quantity to store in the home in the event of the outbreak of violence.

As if these were not enough, there was mass movement of people across the country as families moved their belongings from supposed volatile areas to more secured ends; some even traveled out of the country.

In no small means therefore, Lagos on the eve of the presidential election had become almost a ghost city with many schools, shops and offices as well banks shut down and businesses grounded.

The hustling the city was known for had become deserted as early as 6pm on Friday March 27 because of the palpable fear that hoodlums might begin to attack supporters of opposition parties with the aim of preventing them from coming out for the elections the next day.

And on the morning of the Election Day, residents noticeably trickled out first, in small numbers to the polling units across the state and it was as if many of the residents were not bothered about the importance of the day in history.

“I had to stay back a while to watch if there would be signs of possible violence”, said Madam Julie Ekea a resident of Olowoora,. “Although, after the much prayers we had in may church, I had the conviction there would be no problem, I was only just playing safe by holding on a bit”, she told our correspondent.

At Oladoyinbo unit in Okeira area of Ojodu LCDA, a resident, Bayo Ogundipe told our correspondent, “The zeal you see among our people especially the youths is to show that we all desire change and want to ensure that our votes count”.

Another resident and voter at ward 5, unit 20 Jeffrey Agbonnaye said, “We actually want to rule out rigging in this election and that’s why everybody is on the queue. The day of snatching ballot boxes are over” he said.

According to the speaker of the State House of Assembly, Honourable Adeyemi Ikuforiji, who was seen with his wife at the Ikeja ward 9, unit 25, “the initial low turnout depicts the pattern of our people’s apathy, especially the elites in my ward; they would want to be sure the election would hold as scheduled before they venture to come out and that is my greatest worry. The elites are the most critics of government policies, yet they are the most reluctant to contribute the needed change”, said Ikuforiji.

While also carrying out his verification exercise, Honourable Saka Fafunmi, member of the Assembly who is also seeking reelection in Ifaako/Ijaiye Constituency on the platform of APC observed, “A lot of people chose not to come out because the PDP created a lot of fear in their hearts. We reliably gathered that some hired thugs went to the collation centre at Idi-Aagbon on Friday and shot severally into the air.

“With this everybody believed the elections would likely to be violent. But so far, the exercise has been peaceful and overtime I believe a lot of electorates will come out to exercise their civic rights to elect the leader of their choice,” he said.

A similar experience was recounted at the Collation centre at the Government Technical College, Agidingbi by INEC ad-hoc staff who told our correspondent how some unidentified people alleged from the opposition “came around 2am to attack the nearby mechanic village presumed to be occupied by some party people; scarring our agents from collating the materials during the wee hours as planned”, said a polling officer.

The disruption in some of the collation centres reportedly affected the arrival of voting materials in many centres in the city; thus causing many of the centres to start accreditation late and voting went late into the night.

The enthusiasm of voters which became later in the day when people thronged out in their numbers and with great  conduct was soon to be dampened by the heightened tension of late start which led to a spill-over to the following day, Sunday march 29.

Perhaps, one of the most challenging experiences for voters was the malfunctioned card readers in many voting units which led the INEC officials resort to manual accreditation of voters.

But in the words of Pastor Tunde Bakare of Latter rain Assembly; “I would therefore call for the continued improvement on the use of the card-readers instead of wasting the efforts and resources that had been invested in them”,

Nevertheless, the presidential elections in Lagos, showcased a determined electorate whether physically challenged, aged, sick among others who disregarded the heavy downpour of the day to exhibit the right to elect leaders of their choice across all divide.