Voters abandon 483,000 cards in INEC office
A total of 1.72 million eligible voters will decide electoral fates in today’s Edo State governorship election, where the two main gladiators are Governor Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Records at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) indicate that no fewer than 1.72 million persons are eligible to vote, while 483,796 eligible voters will not participate.
An INEC document titled “Delimitation of Edo State”, shows that the number of ineligible voters is on account of failure to collect their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).
The consolidated figure of registered voters in the state as at August 2018 stands at 2,210,534 registered voters, while only 1,726,738 collected their PVCs, the document indicates.
The document shows that Edo has 18 Local Government Areas, with 192 Wards and 2,627 polling units.
A further breakdown of the registered voters figure in the document shows that the male accounts for 1,159,325 (representing 52 per cent), while 1,051,209 are female (or 48 percent).
Similarly, from the total registered voters, the youth (18 – 35 years) account for 50 per cent (1,105,338); Middle Aged (36 – 50 years) account for 29.1 per cent (643,551); and Elderly (51 – 70 years) has 15.99 per cent (353,508).
Eligible voters classified as the Old (70 years and above) account for 4.89 per cent (108,137).
Further distribution of registered voters in the three senatorial districts of the state shows that Edo South has the highest figure of 1,281,414: the North with 564,122: and Central senatorial district has 364,998.
Edo South has seven council areas; the North has six while Central has five Local Government Areas. According to the number of collected PVCs, Oredo zone has 240,197; Ikpoba-Okha is 214,882; Egor has 158,817; Etsako West has 128,188 and Akoko Edo with 115,343.
This came as a group known as Centre for Liberty, in collaboration with Smiles Africa International Youth Development Initiative, called on the electorate in Edo to reject financial inducement during the governorship election.
Mr Ariyo-Dare Atoye, the CoConvener, Centre for Liberty, made the call during a rally held in Benin.
Atoye said that the rally became necessary to complement other critical stakeholders’ contribution towards ensuring a violence-free election.
“We want to specifically admonish the people of Edo to reject financial inducements and shun violence during the election. We are calling on Edo people not to sell their votes.
If you sell your votes, the implications are that it is going to be difficult to demand good governance in the next four years from whoever wins the election.
“It is important that the people of Edo exercise their franchise without inducement, intimidation or violence.
We are here basically with our supporters in the state to plead for peace ahead of the election.
We want the security agencies to be alive to their duties and responsibilities tomorrow, and ensure that nobody is stopped from voting tomorrow,” he said.
According to him, the next four years is very crucial to the people of Edo. “Good governance is very crucial and without election, we cannot have good leaders, and without good leaders, we cannot have good governance,” he said.
Atoye also warned the youth against allowing themselves to be used for violence by greedy politicians.
“We are appealing to stakeholders to send back those boys that they want to deploy for violence.
It is time to get it right in Nigeria,” he noted. Also speaking, the Executive Director of Smiles Africa International Youth Initiative, Purpose Iserhienrhien, called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly to urgently amend the electoral law.
Iserhienrhien said: “We are calling on lawmakers to urgently amend and pass the Electoral Act.
We are having this problem because we have a faulty Electoral Act that creates room for violence and malpractices to take place without prescribed sanctions.
“If all these things are taken care of by the Electoral Act, our work as civil society will not be to preach for a peaceful election but to preach against voter apathy,” he said.
Mrs Deborah Ajayi- Eseni, Founder of Gift A Child Initiative, also called for the amendment of the electoral Act that would make politics safe for women.
According to Eseni, the foundation of every democracy is a credible electoral process. “So, we are lending our voices to call for the amendment of the electoral act that would protect the interest of every Nigerian,” she said.
Meanwhile, barely 24 hours to the governorship election in Edo, hotel reservations within Benin and its environs were booked up by visitors to the state.
A correspondent, who went round some of the hotels, reported that most have had their accommodation booked up as at Thursday night.
Officials of the hotels visited said that the high volume of guests was not unconnected with the Sept.19, governorship election in the state.
Some of the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said most of the reservations were done in groups either by organisations or individuals They said that many of the reservations were also made many weeks back.
It was observed that some newsmen accredited to cover the elections, who arrived in Benin since Wednesday, encountered difficulties securing affordable hotel accommodation as they failed to make reservations ahead of time.
Some of the media practitioners were seen milling around the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Press Centre on Reservation Road, strategising on the best way to conduct coverage of the election.
Blessing Uwe, who runs a hotel on Airport road, said that the last time the hotel had full capacity was in December 2019. “Many of our guests have booked ahead of time and we had many coming since Wednesday who couldn’t find space,” she said.