Abia: Voters commend INEC for overcoming logistic problem, as low turnout greets polling
From Boniface Okoro, Umuahia
Voters in Abia State have commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for tackling the problem of logistics and for giving their ad-hoc staff enough training that made them to operate the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) efficiently.
Their commendations were predicated on the successful conduct of the gubernatorial and House of Assembly election in the state which generally witnessed low turnout of voters on Saturday.
The Oracle Today Newspapers reports that INEC staff and materials arrived early at almost all the polling units visited which resulted in early commencement of voting, even as the exercise was generally peaceful.
At Oboro Ward 1 with three polling units : 006, 008 and 009 in Amawom Oboro of Ikwuano Local Government Area, the Taskforce Chairman on Security in the community, Anyanwoko Stanley Onyebuchi, said in an interview that INEC staff and materials arrived early, adding that voting started early.
Onyebuchi said that peace was prevailing in the polling station as youths of the area were on ground to ensure orderliness.
“This place is calm and voting is going on peacefully. The youths of the community are here to ensure that the exercise is not disrupted in anyway,” he said.
Corroborating Onyebuchi’s views, Pastor Peter Onyekwere, also a native of Amawom Oboro, said voting has been hitch-free.
“We have no problems here, INEC staff and materials arrived on time, even before 8 o’clock, earlier than they did on February 25. Turn up is poor due to the fact that the electorate felt that the votes they cast on February 25 did not count,” Pastor Onyekwere said.
At Awomnebo Primary and Secondary, also in Ikwuano, with two polling units: 001 and 012, Prince Felix Enyinnaya, a Labour Party agent at Polling Unit 001, said “Polling is in progress without issues here. We have not experienced any hitches here.
“They INEC officials came with complete materials. Before they started, I had to personally check the BVAS, when the switched on the code, it read zero and they commenced accreditation.”
An octogenarian, Charles Chionye, who voted at Ibeku East Ward 1, polling unit 004 located inside Okwuta Community Primary School, commended INEC for bringing their staff and materials on time, adding that the governorship/House of Assembly polls were better organised.
“The governorship and House of Assembly election is better organised than that of the Presidential and National Assembly poll,” Chief Chionye said. He noted that INEC ad-hoc staff posted to their area for the March 18 polls were better trained and were experts in operating the BVAS, unlike those who fiddled with the BVAS machine on February 25,” the senior citizen said.
Many voters were seen seated under a canopy at Okwuta Community Primary School, waiting patiently for their turn to vote as they were called up according to their tally numbers, an indication that voter turnout was high but lower than during the February 25 polls.
When newsmen visited the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, housing five polling units, the turnout was equally poor but voting was peaceful.
As at 1:59 p,m, only about 70 voters out of 520 registered voters had been accredited and had cast their votes in polling units 009 at Alayi Central School, Alayi, Bende LGA.
INEC staff and those who had voted were seen waiting idly for voters to turn up and perform their civic responsibility.
At Amankalu Akoliufu Polling Unit 015 in Amaoku/Amaukwu Autonomous Community in Bende LGA, as at 2 pm, only 80 out of 380 registered voters had voted. Party agents and voters were watching the process, sitting and relaxing inside the community hall, venue of the election.
By 4 p.m, INEC officials were battling to transmit the governorship and House of Assembly results at Umuahia Urban Ward 1, Aba Road/Odidanyanwu polling unit 033 located inside Post Office, premises, Umuahia, after a hitch-free balloting which saw 110 registered voters cast their votes.
Uploading the results posed a little problem which the INEC ad-hoc staff attributed to network issue. Party agents immediately started raising objections, vowing that they have resolved that no one would leave till the results were uploaded.
Some of the voters quickly volunteered their phones when the INEC staff requested for such assistance, to connect the BVAS to network. In about 20 minutes, the results were uploaded, after all the agents had signed the result sheet.
There was increased security presence in the polling units visited, as opposed to what obtained in the February 25, 2023 Presidential and National Assembly polls.