Gov Samuel Ortom of Benue has expressed optimism that the All Progressive Congress (APC) would win the ongoing local government elections in the state.
“I am very impressed with the organisation of the exercise and the massive turnout; I am happy that people are excited to vote. I am optimistic that the APC will sweep the polls,” Ortom said in Guma, shortly after casting his vote.
The governor, who voted at 10.35 am, at Ako polling unit, Ndzorov ward of Guma, urged Benue residents to vote credible and tested candidates so as to ensure the best for the state.
He told journalists that he insisted on holding the election “to install democracy and instill discipline, accountability and sanity in local government administration”.
Ortom said that the APC took its campaign to all parts of the stat to sell its candidates to the voters, and expressed hope that the “change” message had taken roots in the state.
He urged the people to take advantage of the exercise to install democratic structures that would do their bidding, especially in the rural areas.
Ortom commended the peaceful conduct of the electorate, saying that adequate security arrangement had been put in place toward a peaceful exercise.
He also commended the Federal High Court, Makurdi over its June 2 judgement that gave the electoral body the nod to conduct the polls, declaring that it was wrong for the rival PDP to seek to use its internal crisis as an excuse to stop the elections.
The court had thrown out an appeal by the Makarfi-led faction of the PDP, seeking to stop the election following the rejection of its candidates by the Benue State Independent Electoral Commission (BSIEC).
A correspondent, who monitored the election in Gwer East, Makurdi, Guma, Tarkaa, Gboko and Butruku Local Governments, however, observed that there was a low turnout of voters for the exercise.
Journalists also observed that election materials arrived very late in many polling units, with some still waiting for the materials at 12 noon
The last local government election was conducted in Benue was conducted in 2012.