Christiana Gokyo, Jos
At the ongoing election polls kicked-off in Plateau state, special attention was giving to pregnant women, the aged, physically-challenged and officials on duty to cast their votes.
Some people were faced with the challenge of locating their polling units as the polling units where they registered or voted i
n 2015 were change.
Accreditation of voters started at about 8:00am at most of the polling units, while other polling units had some challenges of voting materials not being brought in time, and some started at between 10 and 11am.
People were at their polling units as early as 6:00am to franchise their civil rights to vote a candidate of their choice, and were peaceful waiting to cast their votes
There were logistic challenges in some polling units in Ladura Du, as INEC officials arrived late with election materials. The same fate greeted most of the polling units in Jos South, Barkin-Ladi, both in central and southern zone of Plateau state.
Security was present with thorough searching of vehicles on the road, while in some polling units, security were not seeing as at the time visited.
In a polling unit in Jos Jarawa, card reader was not working. In Fang Loh at Ekan Primary School as at 10:15, electoral materials were yet to arrive. At 002 & 007 poling units, no ballot box president.
There was shortage of staff in Rawuru polling unit in Barkin-Ladi and the Commission had to call up some people, who were not initially picked for the exercise, but to go for the training to replace adhoc officers, who did not turn up at the morning hours.
At 081 polling unit in Etobaba, there were 591 registered voters and only 500 ballot papers were made available. Youths in the area refused commence the election process until the remaining 91 were provided.
After casting his vote, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Senatorial candidate for Plateau North Senatorial District, Hon. Istifanus Gyang, said his victory “is sure by the end of the ongoing Nigerian elections today.”
Hon. Gyang, after casting his vote at his polling unit in Rafan, Rawuru, Barkin-Ladi local government area, said he was impressed with the turnout of voters for the exercise.
He called on the Independent National Electoral Commission to ensure transparency in the process. The serving House of Reps member warned that attempt to subvert the will of the people in the elections will be resisted by the people themselves.
He however dispelled rumours of underaged voting in his locality, saying he has rather been notifying INEC of lapses observed in any voting location to avoid exclusion of voters by the end of the voting period.
Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau state along with his wife, Regina Lalong, and their daughter, Stephanie, who voted for the first time, cast their ballot at Nyak Ajikamai polling unit around 10:30 that Saturday morning.
The governor said he was happy with the turnout of voters, dispelling the notion that there will be voter apathy. His said the peaceful conduct of all voters across the state was a testament of the electorates’ desire for peaceful excise of their franchise.
The governor believes his candidate – President Muhammad Buhari – would win the election and called on citizens to accept the outcome of the poll to move Nigeria forward, hoping that in future the ballot papers will have bolder logos and more spacious boxes for thump printing.
Stephanie Lalong said “Voting for the first time is a dream comes true.” She called on all youth to never miss the chance to vote for leaders of their choice.
The plateau state commissioner of Lands, Surveys and Town Planning, Gestis Fwanteer, said he had visited close to a hundred polling units where voter turnout was impressive, but INEC officials had to be taken to a number of polling units to fox or replace faulty card readers.
Barr. Fwanteer expressed delight at the conduct of electoral officials and the huge turnout of women and youth, and called on plateau people to accept the outcome of the results at the end of the exercise.
On his part, former governor of plateau state, Fidelis Tapgun, said he was very happy with voter turnout and strongly believes that the PDP will carry the day.
Tapgun noted that massive voter turnout in spite of last week’s postponement shows people’s desire to carry out their civic responsibilities and elect leaders of their choice.
He advocated for Two-party system to avoid the confusion of multiple parties on the current ballot paper, saying “It makes for stronger unity.”