Women of all ages defied the heavy downpour in Riyom, to vote in the Plateau North senatorial by-election on Saturday.
A News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondent, who covered the elections in the troubled local government, reports that the women, who came in their numbers, clutched umbrellas with some using polythene bags to cover their heads, as they awaited their turns to cast their votes.
At the many polling units in Riyom Central Primary voting, the women were joined by the elderly persons, who endured the downpour in their determination to vote.A voter, Tabitha Haruna, told NAN that many women had turned out because they were determined to vote for the right candidate.
“We have the interest and the passion for a good and peaceful society and we believe that the starting point is the election of good leaders,’’ the nursing mother said.She advised women to vote so as to make their impact felt in governance, and stressed that time had long past when the women sat at home and grumbled silently.
“Women and their children benefit more from good leadership; they are equally the usual victims of bad governance, so we can no more sit aside and allow others to decide our fate,’’ she said.Another female voter, Mrs Rose Gyang, said that women, as mothers knew the best among the many candidates.
“We know the candidates one by one; we know who is good and who cares about us and we shall demonstrate that with our votes,’’ she declared.
In contrast, there was a low turn out of voters in the Jos metropolitan area.
NAN correspondents, who visited some of the polling units in Jos North, Jos South, Barkin-Ladi, Riyom, Jos East and Bassal Local Governments, reports that there was a low turn-out of voters, with many going about their normal businesses.At most of the polling stations, INEC ad hoc staff, made up mostly of NYSC members, reported as early as 7.45 a.m. with the voting and accreditation materials, but had to wait for some time before voters started trickling in to commence the accreditation process.Accreditation is expected to end at noon while voting will start immediately, but as at 11 .05 a.m. at Kufang Road 3 polling unit in Jos North, less than 45 people had been accredited.The unit, according to an election official, Jerry Ali, has 1,000 registered voters.At polling unit A, of Zawan B ward in Jos South, only about three people were spotted on the queue when NAN visited the unit at 10 a.m.
An observer, who gave his name as Jerry Katse, told NAN that the turnout had been low since the commencement of the accreditation process.“I think there is a general apathy may be due to low publicity and general lack of interest,’’ he said.At Makaranta polling unit in Bukuru, the story was the same with only 20 voters accredited as at 9.45 a.m., with no one on queue unlike in previous elections.The same scenario was witnessed at Kufang Road 2 polling Unit as at 10.33 a.m., but the PDP agents, Danjuma Gyang and Lyop Yaki, said they were optimistic that the situation would improve with time. Gyang described the turnout “as not so bad,’’ saying that many people were on their way. At other areas in the city, the sensitive electoral materials were still being awaited as at 9.50 a.m.A NAN correspondent, who visited the 10 polling units located within St Michael School in Nasarawa area of Jos, found that none of them had received any of the materials as at 9.50 a.m.At Al-Imam primary school at Dogon Duse, the polling units started the accreditation at 9.56 a.m. due to the late arrival of the officials and materials.At Phina junction, Ring Road polling units, officials of INEC were having a running battle with some youths who did not have voters’ cards but were insisting on being allowed to vote.NAN observed that eight Hilux load of security operatives had been deployed to the area to maintain the peace.The situation was, however, different in Tudun Wada, Jos North, where some appreciable turn-out was witnessed.
NAN correspondents, who visited JMDB quarters, Angwan Abuja 1, 2, 3, as well as the Ungwan Lagos 1, 2, 3 polling units, witnessed long queues of prospective voters waiting to be accredited.The appreciable turn-out was also witnessed at NEPA close voting centre where many people, especially the elderly, were seen on the queue waiting to be accredited.At most of the polling units in Tudun Wada, however, there were some challenges for the electoral officials as many prospective voters came with cards but did not have their names on the register, while some had their names on the register, but claimed to have misplaced their cards.The electoral officers’ insistence that no one in any of such categories was qualified to vote generated a lot of argument, making some voting centres rowdy.NAN, however, reports that the streets of Jos, Barkin-Ladi and Riyom were empty as people obeyed the police directive to stay off the streets during the period of the election.Correspondents observed that operators of petty businesses such as bean cake sellers and newspaper vendors were seen doing their businesses.Security presence on the roads was also scanty, against all expectations.
NAN reports that the by-election is to fill the vacancy created by the death, on July 8, of Sen. Gyang Dantong, in a stampede when gunmen attacked mourners at Maseh, a village in the Bachit District of Riyom Local government area.