By Kevin Okunzuwa
Local government elections were held peacefully on Saturday in Edo state with the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), abstaining.
Governor Godwin Obaseki voted in polling unit 19 in Ward 4, Oredo at 12.35, and expressed satisfaction for the peaceful conduct.
He commended Edo State Independent Electoral Commission (EDSIC) for putting in place adequate logistics for the exercise.
“I learnt that the materials were distributed promptly, even as far as to Edo North Senatorial District. The only ugly situation was in Egor and that has been handled,’’ he said.
He expressed satisfaction with turnout of voters in his unit and ward, noting that the councillorship and chairmanship candidates did well in mobilizing voters to participate in the election.
Obaseki, governor of national ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) said the boycott of the exercise by PDP did not affected voter-turnout.
“We can confidently say the opposition party is not in existence in the state. Every politician aspires from the units and if you do not give them the platform, they will seek it outside.”
On expectations in 2019 elections, the governor said: “The council election has been peaceful and this is a precursor to 2019 elections; Edo is an APC state, maybe the contest will be outside the state.”
Ten political parties were cleared by EDSIEC to participate in the elections.
They are APC, Democratic Alternative (DA), Democratic People’s Party (DPP), Green Party of Nigeria (GPN), Progressive People Alliance (PPA), Acton Democratic Party (ADP), Social Democratic Party (SDP), Labour Party (LP), National Conscience Party (NCP) and People for Democratic Change (PDC).
Edo State Independent Electoral Commission (EDSIEC) commended security agencies for providing effective security during the elections.
The Chairman of the commission, Prof. Stanley Orobator, gave the commendation when the Commissioner of Police, Mr Johnson Kokumo, visited the commission while monitoring the elections in Benin.
Orobator said that the commission, for the first time, experienced smooth and efficient security arrangement which contributed to the hitch-free process.
He said the presence of security personnel made the build-up to the elections “less stressful”, adding that no challenge was experienced.
He said that some staff of the commission even had to sleep in the office to ensure protection of materials and early delivery of election materials across the state.
Earlier, Kokumo said that his presence in the commission was for on-the-spot assessment of activities and conduct of personnel deployed for the elections.
He said security agencies were constitutionally empowered to protect the lives of citizens and also provide security in such cases as during elections.
The police boss, who had earlier visited some polling units in Benin, said he was impressed with conduct of voters.
He said no report of arrest of any person for any electoral offence had been received from any of the 18 local government areas in the state.
Sixteen thousand security personnel, including 7, 000 policemen, 5, 000 Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) personnel and 1,500 personnel from the Nigerian Army were deployed for the elections. (NAN)