Residents have attributed the massive turnout of voters in Kogi Central for Saturday’s governorship election to the love for Governor Yahaya Bello and the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate Usman Ododo.
Some of those interviewed by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in the zone expressed happiness over the development.
“We witnessed massive turnout of voters in Kogi Central as residents trooped out in their numbers to cast their votes in the much-anticipated off-cycle election,” Ibrahim Haruna, a resident, said.
He said that Ebira indigenes, in particular, had, as early as Wednesday, begun to arrive in droves in Okene and other Local Government Areas of the state to ensure what they described as a total delivery of votes for the APC Governorship Candidate, Alhaji Usman Ododo, who was the only candidate from the zone in the race.
Some of those who were interviewed at some polling units with mammoth crowds revealed how sons and daughters of the area mobilised money among themselves to hire luxury buses for people to return home to vote.
Speaking on the massive turnout in Kogi Central, an independent observer, Mr Yakubu Jimoh, said he went around and found, first-hand, that the people loved the outgoing governor, and were ready to, on their own, prove this point with their votes.
“Households were cooking for people like it was actually a festival and there was peace everywhere. Even with the heavy presence of military men, people went about their voting without issue. The turnout was massive,” he said.
“It was like zonal rallies in many polling units. People wait as early as 7:30 a.m., to cast their votes. We have never had such a massive turnout before. In the past, it always violence in Central,” Kogi NUJ chairman, Adeiza Momojimoh, said.
Another observer, Mr Adanna Amaechi, who was in Igalamela, said that the threats of violence, especially by the opposition parties, who threatened people against voting for other tribes, kept many people indoors and led to low voter turnout.
“Where we were, even those that said they had PVCs preferred to stay away. The violence recorded in the area in the past and the mode of campaign of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), in particular, scared people away from voting,” she stated.
But in other parts of the district, voters complained about widespread violence and vote-rigging, forcing the electoral office INEC to cancel votes at some polling stations.