BOLA BADMUS, AKIN ADEWAKUN, TUNBOSUN OGUNDARE, SUBAIR MOHAMMED and DAYO AYEYEMI aggregate the election mood in Lagos.
LAGOS communities which were involved in election-related violence in the past are voting for peaceful polls today as rumours spread of likely ethnic clashes after announcement of results.
However, the state government has given the assuring that there will be peace all through the exercise.
A resident (name withheld) who lives in Ikoyi but is well-grounded among his non-Yoruba kinsmen in the state alleged that threats of possible post-election violence are driving his people to vote candidates of a particular political party in today’s election.
The resident, who claimed to have been brought to Lagos as a young person during the era of the late President Shehu Shagari, alleged that a certain group in the state had been threatening his people to vote in a particular way or face trouble if a certain political party didn’t do well in the non-Yoruba-dominated community that houses hundreds of his kinsmen.
He told Saturday Tribune that he and his people were willing to vote for the political party of the choice if they could be assured of safety after the election.
When reminded that security had been beefed in the state, he said he would not take the word of the security agencies for it because “they always show up after people would have been killed.”
The state government has, however, asked terrified residents to be calm in the performance of their civic duty.
The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, in a telephone chat with Saturday Tribune, stated that no form of apprehension or tension was noticeable in the state ahead of today’s polls.
The veteran journalist said: “Nobody is expecting violence come Saturday (today), the day of the presidential election. Lagos is at peace. The people are happy. Everybody is expected to come out and cast their votes. So, I do not see any tension in Lagos.
“Everybody is in the right mood. Lagosians are happy. Everybody is happy. There is no tension here in Lagos.”
Speaking on the security arrangements to ensure that today’s poll is held in a peaceful atmosphere, Omotoso, who noted that Lagos was endowed with the best security, said there was calm everywhere right now.
He said the state government had already made contacts with the various authorities in charge of security to ensure that troublemakers are restrained.
“Yes, we have the best security here. If you go round, you will see that there is calm. We are in contact with the authorities to ensure that nobody causes any trouble, and they do not expect any trouble because they are one.
“Lagosians are very hard-working people. We are concentrating on all the things that will take care of any form of trouble before, during and after the elections. No tension in Lagos. I can’t see any tension in Lagos,” he said.
Aboru, Oke Odo demand INEC, police neutrality
For residents of Olorunto Community in the Aboru area of Oke Odo Local Council Development Area, the die is cast. They are ready to participate in today’s election and ensure that it is hitch-free.
They, however, urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security operatives on election duty to play their role of ensuring that the atmosphere is conducive for voters.
Speaking with Saturday Tribune, the chairman of the Olorunto Landlords/Tenants’ Association, Mr Matthew Ajala, said the community was ready to go to the poll and issues relating to security had been addressed.
“Saturday (today’s) election is not the first we would be having here, and it won’t be the last. The whole place has always been peaceful. But we are not taking any chances. Appropriate measures have been taken and I will advise eligible voters to come out and vote,” Ajala stated.
Another resident, Mr Makinde Adams, shared in Ajala’s optimism. He, however, advised INEC and security agents attached to the community to play by the rule.
Adams, who expressed willingness to cast his vote at John Owiyo, a polling booth located close to Olorunto, said: “People bicker when they discover that the two major parties in the election are not playing by the rule.
“For instance, the tendency is always there for the ruling party to quickly provide the logistics required for the conduct of the election in the area for the INEC officials and the security people immediately they arrive at the polling booths here. Sometimes the logistics are in form of chairs and tables and even snacks and drinks.
“Unfortunately, all these are done most times with the intent of currying favour. That is why I will like to appeal that all these antics must be watched out for. Apart from that, I think we are set to go:”
Why Mile 2 is problematic –Ogunlusi
The chairman of the Community Development Committee (CDC) of Amuwo Odofin Local Council Development Area, Pa Jola Ogunlusi, expressed optimism that the district would record no violence during and after the poll.
According to him, the few skirmishes and electoral malfeasance reported in Amuwo-Odofin were due to the activities of miscreants and okada riders operating in the Mile 2 axis.
He said: “As far as we are concerned, Amuwo-Odofin is very safe. In previous elections, we didn’t record violence or clashes during and after voting.
“Amuwo-Odofin is a cosmopolitan community. The structure of Amuwo-Odofin, particularly FESTAC, does not give room for electoral violence because we don’t have miscreants operating in such a way in Amuwo-Odofin.
“But in the Mile 2 axis, there are reported cases of skirmishes because the area has lots of okada riders and there are miscreants loitering around. Also, Mile 2 borders Ajegunle, which is why we recorded a few skirmishes.
But in all, elections have been violence-free in Amuwo-Odofin and we hope that today’s election will not be an exception.”
Epe says ‘never again’ to violence
The ancient town of Epe has had its share of electoral violence and malpractice, especially during the last general election in Oke Balogun.
However, in this election cycle, the CDC chairman in Epe Local Government Area, Mr Abiodun Ajiborisa, is assuring the electorate of a free, fair and credible election devoid of violence, saying residents in the town will be voting according to their conscience.
Expressing optimism, he said: “Epe Local Government is very safe. Unlike the crisis we recorded in the 2015 and 2019 elections, I assure you that such will not happen in this election. There won’t be any disturbance from any quarters in this election. We are not expecting any financial gratification from any politicians. We want to vote according to our conscience. The whole of Epe is ready to vote without any inducement from anybody.
“We are ready to come out and vote because of the dividends of democracy we have in Epe. The roads are tarred and Epe town is developed and open to the world. Epe town is safe and free of violence. We are voting according to our conscience.”
As far as the CDC chairman in Igando-Ikotun LCDA, Mr Ademola Osibeluwo, is concerned, residents of the area are ready for the elections.
He said: “We are adequately prepared. There is no problem; everything is calm. There won’t be a repeat of the violence we recorded in the last election. We have sensitised our youths and CDAs and instructed them to be of best conduct during and after the election.”
Security is tight in Ikorodu –CDC chair
Also, the CDC chairman in Ikorodu Local Government Area, Alhaji Lukman Shonibare, said Ikorodu Division is 100 percent ready for today’s election.
The Ikorodu Division of today, according to him, is mature because so many measures have been taken to check crimes and violence.
He said: “Ikorodu Local Government is 100 percent safe for the election. For now, it is relatively peaceful and ready for the polls. Ikorodu is now mature because of so many measures that have been put in place to maintain peace and safeguard the community.
“There is the establishment of the Ikorodu Divisional Peace Initiative. It was organised by His Royal Majesty, Oba Kabiru Adewale Sotobi, with its chairman as Odofin Ogunsanya. The aim is to eradicate crime in Ikorodu. About 300 youths were trained at the police college. After their training, they were posted to various areas in Ikorodu.
“They were equipped with motorbikes and they are assisting the police in maintaining peace. There are other groups like the Onyabo Vigilante Group, the Agbekoyas and the OPC and the LNSC who are gathering intelligence.
“For so many years, we have not recorded any violence in Ikorodu and that gives us the assurance that this election will be peaceful. So, there is not going to be any form of rivalry.
“I am a community leader but we see and hear what people say in town, more so when a Yoruba man is contesting. Be assured that the whole of Ikorodu will rise to the occasion.”
Isheri writes INEC
Chairman, Isheri Community (ISECOM), Mr Abiola Abioye, said the major problem confronting people in the community is the scarcity of banknotes.
He said there had been no issue of security breach in the community, adding that everybody is going on with their businesses, including people from the northern part of the country.
Speaking about today’s election, he said “I hope that INEC will not disenfranchise our people (today),” pointing out that there were insinuations of plans to move the voting centre in the community to Olowora.
He said if this happens, the aged in the community would not be able to walk from OPIC to Olowora to cast their votes.
However, he said a letter of appeal had been written by the community leaders to INEC not to move the centre from OPIC.
“The ‘malams’ will also come here to cast their votes peacefully. We just pray that INEC officials will come at the right time with the election materials,” he said.
Security concern at River View Estate
Meanwhile, the chairman of Isheri River View Estate, Mr Akinde, said there had been cases of theft in the vicinity in the last one week.
This, he said, had posed a lot of threat to people in the estate.
“There has been increasing threat with the naira swap crisis,” he said
He alleged that some northern youths in the area broke into two homes and stole a generator and two air conditioners.
According to him, the perpetrators have been apprehended and investigation is ongoing.
This, Akinde said, has necessitated the need to beef up security in the axis.
He pointed out that even security personnel in the axis were hungry since they could not access naira notes.
He expressed concern that the naira swap crisis might affect the movement of the people to polling booths today.
We are ready –Arewa community
The Arewa community in the state also expressed the readiness of its members to exercise their franchise today.
The secretary to Chieftaincy Council of Arewa Community in Agege, Alhaji Abubakar Aliyu, told Saturday Tribune that the Arewa community in Agege and the entire state had been adequately sensitised and encouarged all eligible HausaFulani in the state to come out en masse today with their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and vote for the presidential and National Assembly candidates of their choice.
He described the election as important not only to the HausaFulani but to all Nigerians across the country.
Aliyu said: “We are going to vote massively for the candidates of our choice and stand by our votes and ensure that they are counted.
“We believe that the election will be peaceful, free and fair as we are one, united Nigeria. We will go out and vote peacefully.”
READ ALSO FROM NIGERIAN TRIBUNE