BY ISAIAH BENJAMIN, AZA MSUE, NONYE EKWENUGO, Kaduna AND ABUBAKAR MOHAMMED SADIQ, Zaria.
The local government election held in 19 local government areas of Kaduna State yesterday was largely characterized by voter apathy, failure of the electronic voting machines in some of the polling units and late arrival of voting materials in most of the polling units visited within Kaduna metropolis.
In most of the polling units visited, both the election officers and materials where no where to be found as at 11am while in some other areas voting started as early as 9am, in most of other polling units it started as late as 1pm.
Our correspondents who monitored the election reported that in some polling units where the electronic voting machines malfunctioned, they had to be returned to the headquarters of the Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission (KADSIECOM) for replacement or reconfiguration.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) raised the alarm, saying that the electronic voting process had been compromised to favour the ruling APC.
Governor Nasir el-Rufai shortly after casting his vote at the polling unit 01 Ungwan Sarki Kaduna, expressed confidence in the process, saying the outcome should be acceptable by all the parties in the election, as it was nearly impossible to rig it.
He said the electronic voting machines used in the election was an improvement over those used in the 2018 local government elections, where multiple voting was experienced.
The governor who spoke to journalists after casting his vote however expressed dismay over the low turnout of voters, attributing it to late arrival of electoral materials.
Speaking on the conduct of the poll, el-Rufai said there was significant improvement in the process compared to the 2018 poll.
He said his government was committed to free, fair and credible election.
At the end of the election in his polling unit, the governor’s party, the APC, was defeated by the PDP in both the chairmanship and councillorship elections.
The APC scored 62 votes while the PDP scored 86 votes in the chairmanship election while for the councillorship in his ward the APC scored 53 votes while the PDP scored 100 votes as announced by the presiding officer of the unit, Muhammad Sani.
Speaker of the Kaduna State House of Assembly, Hon. Yusuf Zailani, said the opposition PDP was used to rigging and as such, they would not like the electronic voting system introduced by the el-Rufai government because it does not give room for rigging.
He however expressed confidence that the APC would win the poll, as the people of the state appreciate the giant strides of Governor el-Rufai, especially the urban renewal projects.
But the PDP stakeholders led by the Party’s publicity secretary, Albera Catoh and Dr AbdulRahman Usman who were at the NUJ Secretariat in Kaduna and addressed a press conference said that the electronic voting machines that were supposed to start reading from zero had been programmed to give the ruling party advantage over others in some polling units.
“The integrity of the results has been compromised. PDP went into this election against Sielcom, the APC and Governor Nasir el-Rufai. There was a ward in Barnawa (Kaduna South local government area) where the result printed as at 10am this morning (Saturday) reads 182 for APC and 18 for PDP giving all other parties zero.
Hon Zubairu Sham’una, a PDP agent in Kaduna North local government lamented the malfunctioning of the e-voting machines in some the polling units.
Our reporter from Zaria also said the election in Zaria and Sabin gari local areas was also marred by low turnout of voters and failure of some electronic voting machines.