INNOCENT OKONKWO, JOHN SILAS and FEMI IKUGBAYIGBE
The presidential and national assembly elections which held weekend witnessed an impressive turnout of voters in many parts of Lagos but it generated divergent views among stakeholders.
The failure of card readers in the process of accreditation in some polling units in the state drew the ire of former Deputy Chairman, South West of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George who described the use of card readers as a charade.
But his All Progressives Congress (APC) counterpart and former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; Minister of State for Foreign Affairs; Senator Musiliu Obanikoro and a member, representing Oshodi / Isolo Federal Constituency II in the National Assembly, Hon. Hakeem Abiodun Muniru described the exercise as encouraging.
Chief George stated this while speaking with newsmen shortly after casting his vote at Evans square in Lagos Island, argued that the decision by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to experiment the elections with the use of the card readers has failed.
He said, “Professor Jega has a long way to go, there are problems, the card readers are not working. In some areas, the card readers have not arrived, so there are problems. So, imagine if we have had to vote on February 14, it would have been worst. Let Jega come out clean because this election is so vital to the survival of this country and we are toying with it with experimentation.
“This is a charade. In Badagry, we heard the INEC officials had to go back to pick up the ballot papers while in some places like Ojo and Amuwo Odofin, the officials have not arrived. I have told our people to remain calm and peaceful. But know that no election results will be announced where there are no card readers and ballot papers.”
He further stated, “This has overwhelmed the people who are managers of this election in Lagos State, you cannot blame them because you cannot give what you don’t have. People are becoming more enlightened because they have realised that their vote is their power and decide who would be their leader.”
He added that his party’s leadership has urged their supporters to remain peaceful and law abiding as events unfold.
But contradicting to the views of Chief George, Tinubu said the exercise was peaceful, “The new system of identification you have to be patience, they failed the first, the second, the third and the forth they brought my detail out, I believe with the forensic exercise registered in the machine is credible but as we go ahead and move forward in future it would improve.”
The former Governor debunked the reports speculating round the country that he (Tinubu) sent text messages across to the electorate to vote for the PDP’s presidential candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan, saying that he never sent any text message to anybody.
According to him, the said text messages were part of PDP’s plan to sabotage the elections.
“I didn’t send any text message that is the tactics and desperation of the ruling party to sabotage the rights of the people to exercise their civic duties. Again, that is fraud, I know what I have told my supporters and the supporters of our party, believe in me, in my party and in our presidential candidate, senatorial candidates and the all the House of Representatives candidates, don’t believe in any text message coming from me for you to do otherwise. I still remain credible and determined as a leader of APC, if anybody sent any message to you; it is because they are coward and know they’re going to be defeated.”
Obanikoro on his part admitted that the elections so far as at press time described the process as orderly and smooth.
“Speaking from my neighbourhood, the INEC people came late but since they have started, the card reader is working, I hope to sound a note of caution that they cannot assumed that the situation here is what obtain in other part of Lagos because I have been gotten calls about card readers not working perfectly and people may end up disfranchised but we hope that INEC will be able to correct the errors.
“It depends on the number of card readers that are not functioning, if the numbers is marginal and doesn’t have the kind of things that will make the participants in this process perform their civic rights, and then there will be problem. And according to INEC that those who cannot vote on Saturday can still vote the following day, hope is not lost.”
Similarly, Hon. Muniru, described the exercise as very peaceful in his polling unit at Isolo, he however told Daily Champion that there is the need to build on the gains of the present exercise for future elections.