Residents of Lagos State yesterday shunned the local government elections held in the state even as Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu admitted that the low turnout might be a result of low voters’ education before the polls.

However, the All Progressives Congress (APC) was leading in the areas, including Somolu and Bariga, where the results for the chairmanship and councilorship elections were declared late last night.
This is coming as Governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun pledged to grant local government authorities autonomy to enable the residents to enjoy more dividends of democracy.

Sanwo-Olu, who arrived at his Polling Unit 019, Ward 9, Lateef Jakande/ Femi Okunnu Avenue, Ikoyi, at 11:03 am in the company of his wife, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, also admitted that there was the late arrival of materials at the four polling units he checked on his way to cast his vote.
He, however, stressed that the election has offered the residents of the state the opportunity to exercise their franchise by voting for their preferred candidates.

“I have noticed about four polling booths. I would not say they were crowded polling booths but all went on peacefully. Reports I have gotten so far in the last two hours are that things are going as expected. There could be a delay in terms of arrival of materials but we thank God we have started and I hope what we have seen here is what we will see in other polling units; that people will turn out and express themselves in the ongoing local governments and councils’ election in Lagos State. We are expecting that everything will go on well, free and fair.

“This is the only time we can express ourselves freely. It’s a question of the encouragement and advocacy that we need to continue to give to our citizens. All the logistics have been provided, it’s just for our people to come out and exercise their franchise. We will continue to improve on the advocacy,” Sanwo-Olu said.

While responding to a question on the serenity of the voting area, the governor said the construction of the Lateef Jakande Avenue was in fulfillment of his campaign promises to the people.
The governor pointed out that the perceived low turnout could be a result of a lack of adequate enlightenment of the voters.

Sanwo-Olu said the level of advocacy needed improvement as people exercised their franchise.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the Lagos Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC), Justice Ayotunde Philips has lamented the low turnout of voters.
Fielding questions from journalists, the LASIEC boss said: “The turnout was low and there’s obvious voter apathy.

“However, maybe when INEC updates the new register, we would have a lot of people that would vote.
“Very few polling units opened at 8 am, most of them opened between 8.30 am and 9.30 am, which I have noted and a lot of administrative hiccups here and there.”
Asked if the commission has done well in voters sensitisation, she responded, “No, there’s a need for us to do more.”

Asked how results would be announced, she maintained that results of the elections would be announced at the ward level for the councilorship election, while the chairmanship results would be announced at each local government.
THISDAY gathered that there was a largely low turnout of voters in the Eti-Osa Local Government Area of the state.

A member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, representing the Eti-Osa Constituency II, Hon. Gbolahan Yishawu explained that it was always difficult to have a 100 per cent turnout of voters, noting that “if you look around the world, people that come to vote are between 30 to 40 per cent.

He made the remark shortly after voting at St. Georges Primary School, Ikoyi-Obalende LCDA.
Yishawu, who is the Chairman of the House Committee on Budget and Economic Planning, said people needed more enlightenment in exercising their right to vote.

THISDAY checks revealed that in the Maryland area of the state, there was a scanty turnout of voters.
However, there was an appreciable and improved number of voters’ turnout in such areas as Mushin, Ejigbo, and Agege, which is the stronghold of the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Dr. Mudashiru Obasa.
In Ojodu, where a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. James Faleke is the leader, the voters’ turnout was poor.

This also applied to the largest local government area in the state, Alimosho, where the Minister of the Interior, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola holds sway.

On Lagos Island, many people were indoors, while young men played football on the roads.
However, security was relaxed as no report of any breakdown of law and order was recorded.
In another development, Governor of Ogun State, Abiodun, has pledged to grant local government authorities autonomy to enable residents to enjoy more dividends of democracy.

The governor said this yesterday after he cast his vote at Ita-Osanyin Ward 3 in Iperu, his hometown.
Abiodun said he would ensure the new local government chairmen who would emerge from the just concluded election got autonomy to administer their council areas.

He said the achievement of the local government caretaker committee in the last 20 months showed that when given autonomy, council chairmen would do more at the grassroots.

“We will respect the autonomy of the local government in line with the yearnings of the Governors’ Forum.
“I believe that they are a tier of government that should be given a free hand to run their affairs.

“They are the closest administrative office to the grassroots, they can make that impact because they are much closer to the people than any organ of government,” he said.
On the election, Abiodun adjudged the election free, fair, and peaceful across the state.

THISDAY LIVE