Funmi Olaitan, Ibadan
Local government election was held yesterday in the 33 local government areas and 35 Local Community Development Areas ( LCDA) of Oyo State, coming 10 years after the last one was held in the state.
The council poll which started at 8am, though witnessed low turnout of voters in some areas in Ibadan, the state capital, had impressive turn out in other areas of the state especially in Oke-Ogun, and Ibarapa.
Governor Abiola Ajimobi while speaking with journalists, expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the election across the state, saying he was highly impressed with the turnout of voters.
The governor cast his vote at 12:07pm. along with his wife, Mrs. Florence Ajimobi, at Ward 09, Unit 20, Community Grammar School, Oluyole, Ibadan.
He said reports reaching him from every parts of the state, stated that the exercise was peaceful, orderly, free and fair.
The governor expressed confidence that his party, All Progressives Congress (APC) would win in all the local governments and LCDAs in the state due to the outstanding performance of his administration in the last seven years.
Ajimobi said his administration had enthroned peace and security since its inception, thus erasing the typecast of Oyo as a state of brigandage and violence and had promoted the socio-economic well being of the people of the state.
He also expressed happiness that in spite of the several failed attempts at conducting the council elections occasioned by some legal encumbrances, the exercise eventually held in a peaceful atmosphere.
Ajimobi called on Nigerians to support the enthronement of good governance by getting their voters’ cards with which they could exercise their civic duties.
The governor, who described voting as the civic right of every individual and an avenue to either remove a non-performing government or retain a performing one, thanked the people of the state for their understanding and support.
He said, “As you can see, the election has been free, fair, peaceful and orderly. It is well organized and our people are casting their votes without let or hindrance. I like to commend the people of Oyo State for continuing this process that we had started.
“Oyo State used to be seen as a state of brigandage, where violence reigned. But since we came in, we have established and encouraged peace and development as well as promoted and enhanced the socio-economic well being of our people.
“I am happy that despite the needless controversies which had trailed our patriotic attempts to conduct the local government elections, the exercise has eventually held.
“I also like to encourage our people to get their permanent voter cards (PVCs). Nigeria will surely get better with good governance. But we cannot get that if we do not have the instrument of voting.
“I am confident that our party, All Progressives Congress (APC) will win this election by a landslide, regardless of the people making noise. We are used to noise making. It is part of the game of politics.”
The state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Abiodun Odude, who was also on hand to monitor the exercise, said his men had been on ground to ensure orderly conduct of the exercise, stating that all the areas he had so far visited indicated that the election had been free, fair and peaceful.
He said, “My observation in all the voting centres that I have visited so far shows that the election has been free, fair and peaceful.
“Men of my command have been on ground at every point of voting across the state. Aside the areas I visited, reports from the rest of the state showed that we have had a successful exercise.”
Meanwhile, election observers have adjudged the council poll free and fair devoid of violence across the 33 local government areas and 35 Local Community Development Areas ( LCDA) in the state.
One of the lead observers, state Director of National Orientation Agency ( NOA), Mrs. Dolapo Dosumu, stated that the election which was violent free witnessed impressive turn out of voters and was free and fair, explaining that in most of the polling units monitored, there was peaceful conduct of voting exercise.
She said, “As you can see, the election is going on as scheduled and the people filed out in an orderly manner. In some areas, electoral officers were handling the exercise as expected and party agents also conducted themselves peacefully. So, I can tell that the election is free and fair devoid of violence. And the said report we received from all other parts of the state".
Another observer who spoke on the conduct of the election, Zonal Director of the Nigeria Television Authority ( NTA), Mrs. Jenifer Famusipe, described the council poll as impressive, free and fair, stating that she was impressed with the conduct of the election as it was violence-free.
She said, “I am happy that everything went on well, there was no violence and the voters cast their votes in a peaceful atmosphere."
On his own part, the state Commissioner of Education, Science and Technology, Mr Adeniyi Olowofela, who expressed delight on the conduct of the election, noted that this was against the expectation of the opposition who thought violence would mar the poll.
Olowofela while monitoring the election in Ido Local Government area and Omi Apata LCDA, chided opposition parties for not participating in the council poll, which he described as the best in the history of the state.
He said, “They (opposition parties) boycotted the election because they are afraid of their past. Their refusal to participate in the election is simply due to the fact that history is hunting them."