GOVERNORSHIP and State House of Assembly elections are underway in Nigeria’s North central geo-political zone and voter turnout has been remarkably high.
In all five states that make up the region – Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, and Plateau – election officials and materials arrived early and accreditation and voting commenced as early as a few minutes past 8:00 am under a relatively peaceful atmosphere.
Some presiding officers offered a brief sensitization to party agents on the way to conduct themselves before the commencement of voting and priority voting was given to the elderly, persons with disabilities and pregnant women in most polling units observed.
The election is also witnessing improved participation of women across several polling units. At Polling Unit 012 of Baa Ward 13 in Benue North West Senatorial District, there was a higher turnout of female voters compared to male.
Despite the presence of little or no security personnel in some areas, the environment is calm, and people join the queues and conduct themselves in an orderly manner, as they wait their turn to vote.
However, there was mild rowdiness at Polling Unit 10 in Ward 009 Akwanga West of Nasarawa State, as party agents were accused of influencing voters by following them to the cubicle where votes are cast under the pretext of rendering assistance to them, but the situation has been brought under control.
Prior to the elections, the Department of State Services (DSS) had disclosed plans by some political players to cause chaos and a total breakdown of law and order in the country during Saturday’s election
Consequently, the Inspector-General of Police Usman Baba, ordered Commissioners of Police in the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory to protect the electorate, officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and electoral materials in view of the plans by some groups to cause chaos.
In spite of this order, it was observed that there was uneven deployment of security officials for elections in the region, with no presence of security operatives in some polling units.
There was also low voter turnout in Kampir Playground which is the venue for Polling Unit 011, Ward 009 in Akwanga Local Government Area.
As of 10:25 am, only 25 persons had voted and the electoral officials are seen waiting for the arrival of more voters to participate in the elections.