By Yolamchi Ukaga, Umuahia
Voting started as early as 8.15am in most polling stations in Aba North, Aba South and Osisioma Ngwa and Obingwa local government areas of the state, as the national electoral commission (INEC) deployed materials early, which was an improvement from the February 23, 2019 Presidential and National Assembly election, where voting materials were deployed late.
Low figures recorded in relation to registered voters and numbers of votes cast in some selected polling units were shocking, as it was below expectation. For instance, in Aba South Ward-9, PU-1, only 31 persons voted, out of 158 registered voters. In PU-3 of the same ward, 77 persons voted as against 673 registered Voters.
In Aba North, Eziama Ward-1, PU-10, only 129 voters turned up to cast their votes, out of 1,540 registered voters. In PU-9 with 2,301 registered voters, only 129 voters turned up to cast their votes.
Also in PU-7 with 2,059 registered voters, only 136 voters participated in the election. The case was not different at PU-5, as only 147 votes were recorded, as against 1,890 registered voters
In Osisioma LGA, precisely, at Ward-3, PU-2, Abayi post office, which has 2,934, registered voters, only 346 votes were recorded.
Similar results were also recorded in various wards and polling units within the commercial city of Aba.
Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu, who is the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), voted at Obingwa Ward-7, PU-002, at about 9.40 am. He commended INEC for deploying materials early, stressing that the election was a little bit better than what was witnessed in February 23rd Presidential and National Assembly elections.
In his words, “So far so good, my unit is moving very well and I hope it remains so. I think they improved on logistics. The management and administration of polling units today is a little better than what we saw in the last election.
On security, he said, “I think the security agencies are on top of the game here. Although it is too early to conclude now with pieces of information here and there that people may try to bring in written results from even outside Abia, but we are watching, but I hope security agencies will do the needful.
Dame Blessing Nwagba, governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) voted at about 11.30am at Aba North Ward-7, Old GRA Aba and expressed optimism of winning the gubernatorial election, as the only lady candidate in Abia.
“I’ve spoken to Abians and I have seen that they’re accepting what I have told them, they have seen me, they have seen my propositions. They are happy that a woman is coming out. I have been in the field and I have gone round all the constituencies and LGAs, during my rallies. I’m happy that I’m doing this and I’m sure I will win”.
On voter apathy, she said “the voter apathy will not have effect on one person or me alone. If I didn’t mobilize, probably you wouldn’t have seen the number we have today”
She also said that she got some hints from her agents that there were many areas that malpractices were going on. “For instance, here in my polling unit, voter’s booklets are not complete. In Bende I learnt that people are thumb printing illegally in the presence of security agencies.
“In some other areas also, people are tomb printing in the presence of security agencies. So, I think something is already going wrong, but I pray this election will be free and fair, because we need change in Abia”, she stated.
Hon. Solomon Akpulonu, member representing Obingwa east state constituency in Abia state house of assembly, who is seeking re-election on the platform of the PDP, also commended INEC for the improvement witnessed in the March 9, 2019 election. “For instance in my Ward, Obingwa ward 1, I voted at exactly 8am. Every unit got their materials early. There was no record of card reader malfunctioning, like in the last election.
On his chances, he said, “I am confident that I will win, because I did well in the last four years”.