Despite initial disappointment, Kaduna residents say they are ready to exercise their civic right tomorrow. ABDULRAHEEM AODU reports.
Like other Nigerians, residents of Kaduna state had waited with bated breath to vote in the February 16th, 2019 presidential and National Assembly elections. But it was postponed.
The disappointment therefrom had given rise to fears that the elections rescheduled for tomorrow could face voter’ apathy in Kaduna state. But Blueprint’s findings and pundits’ observations have shown that instead of being tired over the process, voters are still very committed to vote in their candidates.
Kaduna being the political capital of the North and with two Northerners as major contenders for the presidential election: incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC and former vice president Atiku Abubakar of the PDP, the state has significant role to play in deciding who wins the presidential election.
Few, who may want to show lethargy over the postponement, the political parties have engaged in appeals to persuade them to come out and vote for their candidates. The public holiday declared for today (Friday) by the federal government, which has been confirmed by the Kaduna state government, will also help convince the few doubtful ones to go out and vote tomorrow.
Ummi begs voters
Also, wife of Kaduna state governor Hajiya Aisha Ummi Garba el-Rufai lamented that postponement of the elections from last Saturday has impacted on Nigerians just as she appealed to residents of the state to come out en mass and vote for the APC.
“Postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections from the earlier date has become the trendiest topic in town. It is a big disappointment; it does not portray the image of our country internationally in a good light. I believed that there is a good reason behind the postponement. And President Buhari has said that after the elections the postponement will be looked into to know why the process was scuttled.
“The inconvenience people have to go through was big, businesses suffered huge losses, so some people might not want to go through that process again. But I want to appeal to our people to go back again and cast their votes.
“They should go through that process again because we need to make this last push, even if it is due to incompetence by those running our electoral processes, let’s correct the system otherwise we won’t be able to leave a good legacy for our children. Let’s go back and vote and move our nation to the next level.”
Huge losses but….BSG
Buhari Support Group publicity secretary Engineer Mohammed Kailani thinks the postponement has caused Nigerian economy huge losses but was quick to say that the only way to overcome the losses is to come out and vote tomorrow.
“The adverse effect of the postponement is huge to the Nigerian economy. Some analysts were saying that Nigeria lost about N400 billion. Many shops were not opened, markets were closed as were other businesses. But people are still ready and willing to come out to carry out their civic duties, even if the election is postponed 20 times.”
Shift won’t stop PDP’s victory
For the Peoples Democratic Party, the postponement will not stop them from getting majority of votes and ensuring victory for their candidates.
PDP’s deputy campaign director general for Kaduna state Comrade Danjuma Sarki said they expect some voter apathy but are unperturbed and have carried on with their sensitisation and advocacy across the state to ensure that the postponement does not affect their party adversely.
“Following the postponement, we know that people might face challenges going back to vote tomorrow but we are encouraging them to go back and vote for candidates of their choice because that’s the only way they can choose those they want to lead them.
“I don’t think we have any problem. We know that in every unit, the PDP will get the required votes, the majority required to win the election irrespective of whatever happens. We urge the voters to overcome whatever challenges they are facing so that they can come back and vote for the candidate of their choice on Saturday that’s the only way they can bring the people they want into power.
“The PDP is doing sensitisation and advocacy across the state. You know we don’t have money to buy votes like the ruling party but we are doing our best to motivate the voters to come back and vote on Saturday,” he said.
INEC must apologise
Labour Party gubernatorial candidate for Kwara state Comrade Issa Aremu has called on INEC to apologise to Nigerians and assure them that there won’t be further postponement of the elections. He said, “We were eager to vote last Saturday but INEC could not conduct the elections.
“It is not too late for INEC to make amends and ensure that February 23 elections become a reality. This starts with a formal apology to Nigerians. The apology will rekindle our hope that the situation will not repeat itself. You can imagine how difficult it was for people who traveled home to vote, schools were closed, states declared public holiday all for the elections but eventually it did not take place.”
Olakanmi Owa, one of the voters expressed readiness to cast his vote tomorrow. “I’m ready to vote for Baba even if the election is postponed several times I won’t be tired I will still come out and vote for my candidate to ensure that we leave a good future for our children.”
Alhaji Suleiman Yakubu, who resides in Kaduna but is registered in Kwoi, Jaba local government area of Kaduna state (two and half hours drive from Kaduna) he is ready to carry out his civic duties every four years because he believes it is his responsibility irrespective of the chances of his candidate.
“I don’t have such apathy. I want to exercise my right by voting my candidate whether he wins or loses, I must carry out my civic duty of voting every four years. I voted during the (defunct National Party of Nigeria) NPN era,” he said.
Mr James Leke, whose polling unit is in Lokoja, Kogi state, said it is his responsibility to vote who he wants to lead him and he would not be tired of doing it if he does not want to lament after the election.
“It is my civic responsibility to vote for candidate of my choice and I should not be tired of doing that. I live in Kaduna but I registered in Lokoja and that is where I would be going to vote tomorrow (Friday). Thank God that Federal Government has declared Friday as public holiday it would help me travel to go and vote and return back by God’s grace on Sunday to resume work on Monday.
“If we refused to vote and the wrong people get there, what moral right do we have to complain if they are not doing the right thing? The right to complain against bad governance starts by expressing our civic duty by voting during elections. I believe if I vote the right candidate I will benefit in multiple folds whatever I have spent on transportation.”
Alhaji Sarafadeen Ibrahim has traveled to Ilorin, Kwara state for the presidential and National Assembly elections before it was rescheduled but he decided to remain in Kwara state till this weekend to enable him carry out his civic responsibility.
“Yes, I registered at home in Ilorin and I decided to come home to vote because we want to give our best efforts to exercise our franchise and maintain the status quo in Kwara state. During every election period, I normally come home to vote and I’m not tired of doing that because it is my civic responsibility.”
Alhaji Dauda Suleiman, who is 76-year-old, said he would continue to vote candidates of his choice as long as he is still breathing and able. He said he was not deterred by the postponement of the polls. “why should I be bothered that the election was been postponed?
“I was at home taking breakfast last Saturday, getting ready to go and vote when I was told that the election has been postponed. I said there is no problem once God keep us alive whenever they fix the election for we will still vote. The polling unit is just a street away when I’m ready to vote I will only trek there to cast my vote. The place is not as far as the places I used to trek to as a form of exercise,” the retiree added.