By Osaigbovo Iguobaro, Benin
All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have engaged in verbal war over low turnout of eligible voters in Saturday Local Government election in Edo state.
Edo state Independent Electoral Commission (EDSIEC) said to include, All Progressives Congress (APC), Democratic Alternative Party (DAP), Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) and Green Party of Nigeria (PGPN) Labour Party (LP).
Others are: National Conscience Party (NCP), Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA), Social Democratic Party (SDP), Action Democratic Party (ADP) and Peoples For Democratic Change (PDC).
The delay in arrival of voting materials at most polling units and other logistics challenges also cast doubt in the credibility of the exercise.
National Chairman of the All progressive Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, described withdrawal of the main opposition as the worse thing a party could do to its supporters. He made his observation known after he voted at exactly 11:08 at ward 2, unit 2, at Staff training school, Government Reservation Area in Benin City.
According to him, “It is silly for a political party to boycott an election, especially Local Government Polls. The consequence is colossal. We hope that they will continue to boycott subsequent elections in the country”.
Oyegun admitted to the fact, but clarified, that what matters was for the APC party to have the majority votes cast in its favour. “There is always apathy with the local
government elections. It cannot be compared with the general elections where there is high motivation and large turnout. But all the same, it is very important for the number of voters to increase and hope our members have the highest votesm” he said.
But, the chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Edo State chapter, Dan Orbih has described the elections as shame. He said Chief John Odigie-Oyegun was entitled to his own opinion for alleging that the PDP boycott of the election was the worse decision to have been taken by the party against its supporters.
Orbih said the outcome of electoral process was already pre-determined and the low turnout was not in compliance with electoral laws.
“I will not blame chief Oyegun for saying that it was a worse thing for PDP to have boycotted the elections. He is entitled to his own opinion. But I felt disappointed that he should have come out and condemned the government when it was clear that the issue is in the court of law.
“An issue that is pending in court should be respected by a responsible government to have done that. The turnout of voters at the elections was absolute zero. This shows that Edo people hold PDP in high esteem,” he said.
The member representing Ikpoba-Okha/Egor Federal Constituency, House of Representatives, Hon. Ehiozuwa Agbinayinma, said there was no cause for alarm over delay in arrival of electoral materials.
Ehiozuwa. who performed his franchise at Itohan Secondary School, Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area, said though the turnout was low, however, predicted landslide victory for APC. The lawmaker expressed hope that the withdrawal of his former party goes to show that members of the opposition party has nothing to command goodwill of electorate.
“It is a low turnout, we have to be sincere. People have been coming and going out of the voting venue. There is a reason why they did not participate is that they have nothing to sell. They have nothing to tell the people”, he said.
Chris Okaeben, member representing Oredo West Constituency, Edo state House of Assembly, described the non participation of PDP in the election as unfortunate. He said the move negates the value of democracy, adding that the leadership of PDP action, has dashed the hopes of its members and followers.
“Like some people are already canvassing, Civil society groups and organized labour, said legal action should be taken against PDP for boycotting the election ahead of the general elections. You do not live on assumption and there is no harm in trying,” he said.
Edo state APC secretary, Mr. Henry Oka and APC Councillorship Candidate Ward 9 in Oredo Local Government Area, Mr. Okungbowa Reliance, decried the exercise as peaceful and credible.