If the situation in Onipanu, Fadeyi, Palmgrove , Ilupeju and Jibowuwas a replica of happenings in other parts of Lagos State, then onecan confidently conclude that the governorship and state Assemblyelections in the state was a success.
Although there was relatively low turnout of voters, ourinvestigations in the areas revealed that the card reader challengeswhich almost marred the presidential and National Assembly electionswere no longer an issue as both the electorates and the INEC ad hocstaff confirmed a considerable improvement.
In almost all the polling units visited by our team, early arrival ofINEC officials and electoral materials was reported. Little wonderthat as early as between 8: 10 am and 8:30 am, accreditation hadcommenced all over.
Also there were no cases of insufficient or unavailability of incidentforms and result sheets, unlike the situation on March 28 when anumber of polling units were still lacking result sheets several hoursinto the exercise.
However, in Mushin a polling unit (005) suffered a card reader lowbattery which disrupted accreditation at about 10:15 am. The presidingofficer KunleAbiodun, who spoke to Hallmark, explained that thegadget was less than 50 percent charged before it was given to them.
Accreditation and voting went smoothly in a very peaceful atmospherein sharp contrast with wide expectations of pockets of violence in theareas notorious for large presence of street urchins, popularly knownas area boys, who are known as potential political thugs.
However, heavy security presence was recorded at strategic locationsin the areas in addition to a policeman stationed in each of thepolling units. Military vans were seen conveying soldiers to perceivedviolence prone areas.
At Karimo Street in Ilupaju, heavily armed soldiers took their time toverify accreditation marks of the electorates to ensure that onlyaccredited people were allowed to vote. The soldiers were also
conducting stop-and-search on vehicles of those suspected not to be onauthorized electoral duties.
Despite the security surveillance that characterized the exercise, theeagle eyes of Hallmark still caught up with some party members tryingto do last minute lobbying even at the polling units, a scenario thatsaw money and recharge cards exchange hands at intervals.
On Matami Street in Onipanu, an agent of one of the parties, an oldman in his late 60s, whose name could not be ascertained as at thetime of filing this report, was seen tactically distributing money tosome electorates (N500 each), while pretending to be maintainingorderliness.
Another party agent, a woman in her mid 50s, was also smartlydistributing money (also N500 each), while giving the impression thatshe was only shaking hands with the select recipients.
Some of the electorates commended INEC for what they described as animprovement on the presidential and National Assembly elections. Theysaid the fact that the card readers were now working more efficientlywent a long way in showing that INEC was committed to delivering
credible elections in the country.
One of them, Mr.TunjiAlabi, a resident of Fadeyi, paid glowingtribute to the INEC chairman, Prof AttahiruJega, who he described asa man of integrity.
He said, “I give it to Jega. He came up with this card reader. Now hehas gone a step further to make it more reliable and efficient. Thisshows that he is a man of integrity who does not have any skeleton inhis cupboard.”
“INEC has shown that it means well for Nigerian democracy. If thisimprovement is sustained, I can tell you, in time to come, Nigeria,will become a reference point as one of the biggest democracies in theworld,” another electorate who simply identified himself as Peternoted.
On the reason behind the low turnout of voters, while some attributedit to declining excitement other said it was due to fear of beingattacked by hoodlums, who they said were more interested in thegovernorship elections than the presidential elections.
Out of 5 polling units visited during the counting of votes, APC wonin four, while PDP won in one in the governorship category. But Accordparty which did not make much impact in the governorship battleclinched almost all the polling units in the state Assembly contest.