Lagos residents trooped out to exercise their franchise to elect who governs the state for the next four years from among candidates of the different political parties in a competitive race. The campaigns were overshadowed by issues of ethnicity and religion in their twilight. The front runners in the contest are the incumbent Mr. Babajide
Lagos residents trooped out to exercise their franchise to elect who governs the state for the next four years from among candidates of the different political parties in a competitive race. The campaigns were overshadowed by issues of ethnicity and religion in their twilight.
The front runners in the contest are the incumbent Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the All Progressives Congress, Arc Gbadebo Rhodes‐Vivour of the Labour Party Gbadebo Rhodes‐Vivour, and Dr. Olajide Abdulazeez Adediran, of the Peoples Democratic Party. Though the turnout was impressive, it is unlikely to match or surpass that of the presidential election.
The President-elect, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu voted in Lagos but unlike the last time he voted he did not display his ballot paper to reveal who he voted for.
Unlike the narrative of the presidential elections, in which INEC staff were late to the polling unit, the voting process commenced at 8:30 am, across the state without any delay from the officials of the electoral commission. There was a general calmness in all the places visited in respect of the cooperation of the electorates with the voters. While the voting was going smoothly, there were minimal cases of visible vote buying in the places visited in the state.
In the same light, it was observed that the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System also functioned optimally as one Presiding Officer, John at the Adeniji Adele Polling Unit 004, Lagos Island told the NDR that the BVAS has been accrediting voters without any hassles. “The voting has been going on smoothly, there is a massive turnout of voters. The BVAS has been working well unlike how it was during the elections. Everywhere is peaceful.
Also, an electorate who spoke under anonymity at Alausa Ikeja Polling Unit 004 said the voting process has been seamless. She said the voters were easily accredited and were given the chance to vote without any form of intimidation. “The election has been smooth all through, we have no cause for alarm, the INEC officials used the BVAS to accredit us and we have voted. We are only waiting for sorting and collation”.
There were incidences in some centers like Okota where voting was disrupted and in the VGC area of the Island where INEC officials relocated the polling units from within the estate to the main road, a development that was being resisted by the residents.
At some voting stations, fetish materials were placed on the ground by unknown persons but the voters were not moved by such developments and gathered to cast their votes as they waited for the arrival of INEC officials to commence voting.
“Speaking after casting his vote, at his polling in Adeniji Adele, Lagos Island, the Lagos state government, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu admonished the electorates to embrace peace while exercising their voting rights. “I’m happy with the turnout at this polling unit. I think it is time for us as a people to understand d that the process is not meant to be a process of violence. An election that leads to a democratic process is a validation of what democracy should be about.
“We are about peace, and progress for our state and should try at large as we seek a free, transparent, and credible election. I want to ask all voters should remain vigilant, if you see something say something. Any form of violence is not acceptable.
As promised by the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Lagos, Mr. Olusegun Agbaje that the Persons With Disabilities would be given priority during the elections, and would be encouraged to vote, it was observed that the PWDs came out en masse to vote.
In Oko-Baba, Lagos Island, the PWDs community trooped out to cast their votes with the support of the electoral officials. Also, the chairman of the visually impaired people in Ifako-Ijaiye, Mr. Anuoluwa Isasc who acted as an Adhoc staff at the PU 0020, Ifako-Ijaiye expressed his excitement for being allowed to function in the capacity despite his disability.
“I am really glad for the trust vested in me to act as an Adhoc staff, despite being a visually impaired person. I think this is forward-thinking on the part of INEC, and I must say that this will build more confidence in the PWDs community to come out and always cast their votes, even in the future.
Fear of Violence and Voter Apathy
Ahead of the governorship election in Lagos, the Nigeria Police Force, Lagos command had to assure residents of their safety by promising to arrest any electoral-related threats during the polls.
The Lagos state Commissioner of Police, Idowu Owohunwa in his election message, urged the people of Lagos to be calm and law abiding while they are exercising their franchise rights at the polls. He also indicated that the police and other law enforcement agencies will not hesitate to bring the weight of law upon individuals threatening the peace of the state.
“I want to encourage you to be law abiding as we prepare for forthcoming gubernatorial and state assembly elections. I can assure you that, so far as you work closely with me and within the context of electoral acts, I promise to deliver to you a peaceful, secure environment for you to have the confidence to go and exercise your franchise.
“But please Lagosians, cooperate with your police and all the political parties encourage your faithful to be law abiding and go to the polling units, conduct themselves in an organised manner.
“For those individuals who think they can come to threaten the peace that an average Lagosian so treasures, we can assure you that we will bring the full weight of the law to bear on you.
Recall there was a viral video of chairman of the Lagos State Park Management Committee, Musiliu Akinsanya also known as MC Musliu on social media where he was threatening the Igbo people living in Lagos not to bother to come to the poll if they will not vote for the ruling party, All Progressive Congress (APC). But, the Chairman of the Lagos State Park Management Committee has come out to deny the allegations that he planned to disrupt the electioneering process within the state, saying that he was only addressing his party members to come out and vote during election.
As a reaction to the threat, the Labour Party in Lagos wrote a petition to the police force to investigate and arrest Mr Akinsanya for making such incendiary comments, “Whilst we are confident in the actions of the security forces at securing the lives of our supporters, we enjoin your office to take immediate actions at arresting and/or inviting MC OLUOMO for further investigation and immediately stop this sacrifice by the Oba of Elegusht Oniru of Iru and other traditional rulers in Lagos state during the conduct of the March 18th, 2023 election We look forward to your urgent and immediate action in this regards
The police also reacted to the insinuation that there would be traditional rites and ritual known as ‘Oro’ on Saturday 18th, March 2023, in Elegushi axis of the Lagos Island, to threaten some residents from coming out to vote during the elections.
Speaking on the development, the spokesperson of the Nigeria Police Force, Muyiwa Adejobi debunked such claims that the Oro festival is a threat to the electoral process, adding that there is no such activity on election day.