Local government election was Saturday held peacefully across the 276 council wards of Benue state with a large turn out of voters in the urban and rural areas. Five political parties including then the Social Democratic Party, SDP, Labour Party, LP, African Action Congress, AAC, All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, participated in the council poll.
In most parts of Makurdi town voters were seen as early as 9 am queuing up to exercise their franchise while officials of the Benue State Independent Electoral Commission, BSIEC, were on hand to supervise the process.
In Guma Local Government Area where Governor Samuel Ortom voted at about 9:40 am at the Ako polling unit 003, LGEA Primary School Gbajimba, voters were seen in large numbers undergoing accreditation and voting at the same time. Commenting after casting his vote, Governor Ortom who commended the BSIEC for early distribution of electoral materials expressed optimism that his party the PDP would record a landslide victory at the end of the polls.
“So far so good, I was told that BSIEC distributed all materials to the 23 LGAs and 276 council wards early. As you can see I have voted for my chairman and my counselor and we are quite confident that by the grace of God we shall record a landslide victory today because we have worked for it.
“Our primaries were free of rancour, it was through consensus and the people are with my party the PDP in the entire state so we are very confident that by the grace of God we shall win,” he said On the withdrawal of the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, from the contest, the Governor said, “I am not surprised that the APC did not participate in the election.”
They refused to pay the prescribed fee they were supposed to pay for the election which was provided for in the law as criteria. “So they did not show any commitment to participate in the election. In any case, you will recall that they went to court to try to truncate the process but the courts said no, the election cannot be stopped.
“We are law-abiding and you know that several states are not even thinking of holding an election. It is a constitutional provision that election most be held at the local government level and that is what we have done despite the COVID-19. We told the people to maintain social distancing to make sure that they voted.
“And I must also say that the turn out is very impressive but we advised people not to crowd the polling units because of the COVID-19,” the Governor added.
On his part, the Executive Secretary of the Benue State Teaching Service Board, TSB, Dr Frank Kyungun who also voted at the polling unit commended BSIEC and security agencies for ensuring a hitch-free exercise in the state and the voters also for being orderly.
Meanwhile, in her update on the exercise from across the state, the Police Public Relations Officer, Deputy Superintendent, DSP, Catherine Anene said the poll was generally peaceful adding that “the command has so far not recorded any incidents since the commencement of voting across the state.”