Complaints against late arrival of officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and late commencement of voting in voting centres in Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State trailed the voting process Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections.
Some party candidates in their assessment of the voting process expressed dissatisfaction with the late arrival of INEC ad hoc staff; a situation that they said delayed the voting process and kept the voters, including the elderly waiting.
Speaking to Journalists at the Kandinma Primary School voting centre for Ward one, Oniocha-Uku, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, and candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Hon. Ndudi Elumelu called the attention of newsmen to what he described as fundamental issues that came up against the smooth operation of the voting exercise.
He said; “One, in all the units we have the problem of insufficient ballot papers. A situation where a unit of 600 collected PVCs not registered voters and you are seeing them giving 300 ballot papers and that will cause a lot of chaos. It’s not only in this polling unit, it’s all over Aniocha North.
“Then in terms of timing, and based on the laws that we passed, every exercised is supposed to commence by 8 a.m. They did not get here until 10.10 a.m., almost two hours 10 minutes late to the polling units. It’s not only in this polling unit that they failed to meet up with the time, but it’s also the same thing outside this local government,” Elumelu said.
He continued: “The last one is that the supervisor designated to distribute the materials is hoarding the result sheets. And that is causing problem in every polling unit. And the people are saying that they will not continue with the voting exercise until they see all the materials. So, I think these are some of the issues that I think that INEC should address. And I have called the E.O. And on the issue of the ballot papers, she said they were given insufficient numbers from CBN. I went on to call the REC, Mr. Tom and he told me that nobody complained to him, that none of the E.Os complained that they were having insufficient ballot materials and that he was surprised. I think the case is between the REC office and the E.O’s office. But the REC has promised that they will resolve that. So, these are the issues that are really, really disturbing, Elumelu said.
He spoke further, pointing out that besides the insufficient ballot papers, usually the procedure is that when you come to a polling unit, you provide all the items and make it very clear; submit to the people and show them, even upturn the ballot box to ensure that there’s nothing inside. For the BIVAS, show that it is reading five zeros, which means that nothing has been loaded into it. These are the processes to show that there’s transparency in the whole exercise. But in this case, the ballot papers are not complete, and the result sheets are not there,” Elumelu said.
At the Issele-Mkpitime polling unit, Candidate of Accord Party, for Aniocha North Constituency in Delta State House of Assembly, Engr. Fidel Onwodi who spoke on the areas of concern said: “The areas that we have concern have to do with INEC. For starters, the election commenced very late, after 1p.m. And as you can see, this is past 2p.m. and there are still queues. You can see the elderly; people have been waiting since morning, the physically challenged. I think INEC has a long way to go in this regard.”
For the Accord party candidate, the most annoying thing is that INEC did not come with enough staff to handle the BIVAS. “We had to start looking from within, for who is a youth corper in our midst here and who has gone through the training. Someone was miraculously found to handle it for us. And she was acceptable to party agents. Even the tables being used for the voting were makeshift, they were improvised,” Onwordi said, even as he acknowledged that the turnout by people was impressive.
The candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the Delta State House of Assembly, who currently represents Aniocha North State Constituency in the House, Hon. Emeka Nwaobi told journalists at Martin Primary School, Issele-Uku, where at 3.12 p.m. a throng of voters were on queue in all the polling centres said: “We experienced a lot of issues, one of which was that INEC’s ad hoc staffs did not arrive the polling units early enough
“They came at after 11 a.m. and upon arrival we discovered that they didn’t have enough of ad hoc staff. Apparently, each of the units is supposed to have four staffs working, but looking around now, you’ll see that they have just two-two. At some point in unit 5, one of them declined and left. So only one person is working,” Nwaobi said.
For the Chairman, Delta State Waste Disposal Board, Mr. Emma Chinye, at Ward Four, in Ugba Primary School, “INEC officials came a bit late at after 9 a.m. Although the process went on well, we had one or two issues about the BIVAS, but it was immediately resolved within a space of 5 to 10 minutes,” Chinye said.