After a five-year wait, Lagosians today voted for their leaders at the grassroots level.
Despite an intense build-up to the elections in the 20 local governments and 37 local council development areas of the state, turnout was low in many areas.
Voting and accreditation had been scheduled to start at 8 am and end by 3 pm, but heavy rainfall in the early hours of the day resulted in a damp and late start to the elections, especially as it left parts of the state flooded.
Across several polling units, electoral material and officials arrived behind schedule and when they finally were set for accreditation and voting, only a few voters turned up.
In Lekki, around noon, not many people had turned out for voting and accreditation. For instance, at Polling Unit 15 in Ward E of Lekki scheme 1, no voter was present by 12 pm.
Not far away, at Crescent E, 1004 Flats on Victoria Island, less than 10 people had voted at Polling Unit 034 when our reporter visited after 1:00 pm.
The situation was similar in several parts of the Lagos Mainland. This was evident in FESTAC. At its largest ward, Ward C, which has six polling units, voter apathy was evident.
In one of the polling unit, where more than 500 voters were registered, only 25 had voted around 2 pm. At another unit in the ward, which had more than 300 registered voters, only five had voted at the time.
Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, who voted in the morning at Unit O33, Ward 6, Ogunmodede Ogunmodede Junior and Senior College in Epe, expressed concern about voter apathy after casting his vote.
According to him, for the state and the nation to witness credible elections, everyone has to fully participate.
“What is important for us is for us to be able to conduct a free fair and credible election and, you know, local government election has not taken place in Lagos State in the last five years. So we are happy that we are able to do this and also enhance democratic values that we are trying to build up in this country.
“You cannot stay back and just expect that things will work well,” said the governor, who explained that a peaceful atmosphere had been created for people to carry out their civic obligations.
The governor added, “We have tried at the state level but we also need to put credible people at the local government level and that is the nearest government to our people and all we have been advocating is about participatory governance.
“If you don’t take part, you will not just be part of what is coming out and the whole essence is for you to be able to choose people who will really touch your needs. So if you sit down at home and anyone that is not credible gets there, it would not be their fault if they give you bad results and that’s what we don’t want.”
By 3 pm when voting ended in most of the polling units, not much had changed in terms of turnout. Not all areas witnessed low turnout, however.
Mr David Adodo, who said he is from the Ikoyi/Obalende LCDA, said the large turnout in the area was because people had waited for a long time.
“We thank God people are turning out en masse for this election. We thank the Government of Lagos State for this encouragement and we appreciate the governor for the conducive atmosphere. We have been waiting for this grassroots election for a very long time,” he said.
According to the electoral body, 12 political parties participated in the elections with 1,300 chairmanship and councillorship candidates vying for leadership positions at the local government level.
Although the elections did not have the usual intensity associated with local council polls, it is set to produce leaders at the grassroots level with results already being announced in some areas.