#AnambraDecides2021: INEC blames IPOB for low voters’ turnout despite state’s apathetic history

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has blamed the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) for the low voters’ turnout that marred the Anambra State governorship election at the weekend.

This is despite the state which has over 2.5 million electorates having a history of poor voters’ turnout in previous elections. It consists of 21 local government areas and 5,720 polling units.

Appearing on Channels Television Sunday evening, Sam Egwu, the supervising resident electoral commissioner for Ogbaru, Onitsha North and South councils said the fear of the pro-Biafra group that cancelled its week-long sit-at-home order two days to the exercise was responsible for the poor turnout of electorates.

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“There is a whole state of fear that has been created by the politics of agitation for a separate state in this part of the country,” Mr Egwu said. “IPOB has been able to enforce the sit-at-home order over time. So the fear of IPOB has become the beginning of wisdom.

“We have had a problem with extremely low voter turnout. The voter turnout, I think, if you are scientific in terms of what we are seeing in many local governments, you are actually dealing with less than 25 per cent voter turnout, and this is not really good for our democracy,” he added.

Since 1999, elections in Anambra State have been marred by low voters’ turnout.

Governorship elections in the state have never witnessed up to 50 per cent of voters’ turnout – except in the 2007 election which was characterised by allegations of massive rigging.

Of the 1.84 million registered voters in the state in 2010, only 302,000 turned out to vote on election day. This translates to about 16 per cent of voters.

Similarly, in 2013, only 465,891 of the total 1,770,127 registered voters actually went out to vote on election day – translating to about 25 per cent.

And in the 2017 election, less than a quarter of the total number of registered voters actually participated in the polls. The electoral umpire had said of the 2,064,134 residents registered as eligible voters for the election, only 457, 511 – about 22.16 per cent, actually came out on Election Day to be accredited.

However, not all the 457,511 accredited people actually cast their votes. The INEC figure revealed that only 21.74 per cent of the registered voters (448,771) actually cast their votes.

Analysts say although secessionist directives played a significant part in low voters’ turnout, electoral violence and lack of trust in the system are possible causes of voter apathy.

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