President Goodluck Jonathan has blamed the low turnout of voters at yesterday’s governorship election in Bayelsa State on the plethora of cases which were filed and were still pending in court.
The president while speaking with journalists said the poll in the state was characterised by low turnout of voters, with only 124 voters out of 857 that registered turning out to vote at the Otazi Playground Polling Unit 039, Otuoke, where President Jonathan and his family registered.
Immediately after casting his vote alongside his wife, Patience and mother, Eunice, at 12:47pm, the President said most people were confused up till Friday night as to who was a candidate and who was not and whether election would go ahead or not.
He added that the low turnout of voters could also be attributed to a number of incidences, which may include the fact that it is a lower election.
Comparing the governorship election to the April 2011 election, Jonathan said the large turnout during last year polls could be attributed to the special interest the people had in the presidential election which equally attracted Nigerians in Diaspora.
He said, “You know that in Bayelsa state there has been some kind of challenges as to who is the candidate and who is not a candidate. And up to yesterday, Bayelsans were confused as to whether election will go on or not and this affect the turnout of voters.
“The behaviour of voters vary from one election to another. For the presidential election, most Nigerians in diaspora came home because they were quite interested in the presidential election and they all voted. In most cases, lower elections don’t attract that kind of interest probably, that may be the reason”.
Jonathan, however, said he was satisfied with the conduct of the poll, saying it was generally peaceful across the state. He was also confident that the votes of the people will count.
He said, “The exercise has been very calm and in the whole state I have not heard of any ugly incident, everywhere is calm and am quite pleased. I am very hopeful that the votes of the citizens will count and clearly manifest in this election”, Jonathan said.
At the Okunbiri country home of the Acting Governor, Chief Nestor Binabo, the late arrival of election material and personnel delayed the conduct of accreditation and voting until at about 1.48pm.
The flag bearer of the PDP, Hon. Seriake Dickson, also voted at Toru-Orua community of the Sagbama local government at 12.30pm. They described the turnout of poll in their areas as peaceful and impressive.
Some observers attached to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) informed LEADERSHIP SUNDAY that some underage voters were noticed at the home council of the Former Presidential Adviser on Niger Delta, Mr. Timi Alaibe at the Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Council of the State.
Mr.Timi Alaibe however waved aside the claim of underage voters and commended the indigenes of the council for their turn out inspite of the general case of misinformation that trailed the conduct and called on the opposition to support the PDP in developing the state.
At the home Community of the Former Governor of the state ,Timipre Sylva ,at Okpoama in Brass local government council, there were high case of low turn out.Many of the indigenes claimed not to know the parties and candidates involved in the Governorship contest.
Voters apathy was observed at Opokuma and Odi in Kolokuma/Opokuma local government, Otuoke, Opume and ,Imiringi in Ogbia Local Government area of the State.
Others affected were the Sagbama town , Adagbabiri, Oskweneke in Sagbama Local Government Area of the State, Letugbene, Ekeremor town, in Ekeremor Local Government area; Atissa and Epie clans in Yenagoa Local Government area of the State, Nembe and Brass local governments. Many people stayed at their homes .
Meanwhile, LEADERSHIP SUNDAY gathered that the corpse of the ACN supporter, Tuston Ogai, who was murdered in Ogbrigbene, Southern Ijaw local government, by unidentified gunmen last Friday at about 10.30pm, was conveyed to Yenagoa yesterday and deposited at the morgue of Federal Medical Centre. Police authorities in the state confirmed the killing of Ogai.
It was learnt that few hours after voting ended in the 105 wards in Bayelsa State, a bloody clash between the supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP and Change Advocacy Party, CAP erupted.
At least six persons were severely injured in the crisis that occurred at Trofani community, Sagbama Local Government Area of the state.
A source told our correspondent that the injured victims were rushed to the Federal Medical Centre(FMC),Yenagoa, for treatment.
Though our correspondent could not ascertain the reason for the violence, supporters of both parties had been at loggerheads over the control of the community.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Eguavoen Emokpae, while confirming the report said it was a misunderstanding between parties. He said police officers were deployed the affected area to maintain to restore the peace.
The Commissioner of Police in Bayelsa State, Mr Chris Olakpe, says the command has not received reports of security challenges in Saturday’s governorship election in the state.
He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at President Goodluck Jonathan’s Otuoke hometown in Ogbia local government area of the state that voters conducted themselves very well during the election.