There were general voters’ apathy, and vote buying in the ongoing 2023 Governorship and State House Assembly elections in most of the polling units visited in Calabar metropolis in Cross River State.
The election was reported to start early and was orderly, but one thing noticed was the low turn out.
Many polling units started the election exercise early; At ward one, units 001-005 in Akim town, Calabar Municipality, the INEC members of staff and the security personnel were sighted at the various polling units at 7:50 am, despite the near absence of prospective voters.
It means that the INEC officials came before most of the voters.
Another thing noticed is that some party agents in some areas, including Ward 7, unit 5, Ikot Ishie, also in Calabar Municipality, engaged with most voters and promised them rewards if they cast their votes for the respective parties.
The INEC workers, who came out early for the exercise, were greeted with a low turnout of voters.
The low turnout was visible to many and one of the reasons is because of the unpleasant events that happened during the presidential poll on February 25th 2023.
One of the voters, who simply identified herself as Agnes, said the general Voters’ apathy may not be unconnected with the outcome of the previous elections held in February 2023.
Agnes, still, expressed satisfaction with the peaceful conduct of the exercise.
She said the election was conducted peacefully and hope that the will of the masses prevails this time.
Bamson, another voter, noted that the electoral process in his polling unit was peaceful.
He, however, called on INEC not to take the peoples’ trust for granted this time around.
He said: “Today’s exercise is orderly and peaceful, no doubt, but the whole essence is about the trust in the system that matters most.
“When we observe the outcome of the last elections, we would observe that there’s peace, but an uneasy peace. I don’t have a choice, but to have hope for a better outcome in today’s exercise.”
He noted that At ward 7, unit 5, the level of voter apathy was quite high compared to the last general elections held in the same area.
An observer in the unit, Mr. Okon Ete, attributed the situation to the outcome of the last elections, noting however, that all hope was not lost for his party.
“We are not surprised to see the turnout of voters in today’s election, but we have hope that our party will win. Most of our supporters are not happy with the results of the last elections, and so they refused to come out,” he said.
Pst. Dominic Etim, the PDP agent in Polling unit 012, ward 6 agreed with the statement of Mr. Okon Eye as he said, “today’s turnout is not really encouraging compared to the Presidential election.
People are aggrieved, they feel their votes were not counted in the previous exercise and still believe their votes will not be counted this time around.”
From the mouths of three witnesses, it could be said that the voter turnout in cross river was not encouraging, but from the reposts thus far, it is quite peaceful.