There was a massive turnout of voters in Ekiti State as the accreditation and voting process got underway in Saturday’s governorship election.
Correspondents of the News Agency of Nigeria monitoring the election across the three senatorial districts of the state report that many voters had arrived their polling units as early as 6.30am to wait for election officials.
Across many polling units in Ado Ekiti, the state capital, there was an impressive turnout of enthusiastic voters determined to exercise their civic responsibilities.
At ward 10 Unit 12 a and b, Basiri area of Ado-Ekiti, the Assistant Presiding Officer, Nafisat Jamie, told NAN that though they collected all the election materials as early as 6am, the process could not start due to transportation challenge to the unit.
As at 8.53am, the names of eligible voters were just being pasted for viewing and confirmation.
An observer from the Transition Monitoring Group, Tosin Abati, told NAN that the process started late due to late arrival of Independent National Electoral Commission officials.
At Ward 10 Unit 9, Okesha area of the state capital, the Assistant Presiding Officer 2, Owoseni Taiwo, addressed the voters, who were already on the queue and opened the ballot box for everyone to see and confirm that it was empty.
Visits to Wards 3, Units 5 and 13 Idemo and Ward 9 Unit 12 Odo-Ado revealed that accreditation and voting were going on simultaneously with security men on standby.
Dr. Mike Omilusi, an observer from the Alliance for Credible Election, commended INEC for its pro-active strategies in terms of voter education and sensitisation ahead of the poll.
He also commended INEC on the use of the card readers for the election, but advised that more card readers be made available in future elections.
The observer said the new idea of accreditation and voting simultaneously was commendable, noting that this would ensure quick conclusion of the exercise.
At St Michael’s School, Ajilosun, opposite Mobil filling station, the turnout was also impressive, while the accreditation and voting process was also going on simultaneously.
Speaking with NAN, an observer from the Justice Development and Peace Initiative, Aluko Isiaih, said that the election started well until when the card reader in one of the wards stopped working for about 45 minutes before it was rectified.
Meanwhile, as at the time of filing this report, elections were going smoothly in all the eight units located within the school’s premises while there was no report of violence.
Efforts to speak with members of the monitoring team from the British High Commission, however, failed as they declined comments.
Wale Adebayo, a member of the team, told NAN that they had no comment to make.
In Isan-Ekiti, where the All Progressives Congress candidate, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, hails from, accreditation and voting commenced across many polling units between 8.03am and 8.38am.
In Fayemi’s Polling Unit 009, Ward 11, NAN reports that accreditation and voting commenced at about 8:38am although INEC officials arrived at about 7:26am.
Accreditation and voting began in Polling Units 006 and 007 as well as 005 between 8:03am and 8:10am.
At Unit 009, no fewer than 345 names of voters appeared on the pasted registered list.
In Ikere-Ekiti, the home town of the Peoples Democratic party flagbearer, Prof. Kolapo Olusola, voters trooped out as early as 6.30am to various polling units.
NAN reports that a huge crowd was sighted at the Ofamofuru Polling Unit 007, Ward 02, of Olusola.
The Presiding Officer of the polling unit, Layeni Segun, had urged the voters to conduct themselves in an orderly manner after displaying the empty ballox box to those gathered.
Segun equally appealed to the voters to allow the elderly and nursing mothers to cast their votes first.
Other polling units visited such as L.A Pilot Polling Unit,08, Ward 002, Custom Polling Unit,08, Idiyin Polling unit 006, Ward 002 also witnessed a massive crowd of voters.
NAN reports that no fewer than 667,064 eligible voters had collected their Permanent Voters Cards out of the 913,334 registered.
NAN also reports that the electorate would vote in 2,195 polling units spread across 177 wards in the 16 local government areas of Ekiti, while 35 candidates are contesting.