The Katsina State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Alhaji Jibril Zarewa, attributed the first low voter turnout in Katsina State to the 17 Local Government Areas (LGAs) losing telecoms service owing to insecurity.
Zarewa made a claim while addressing journalists in the state at the INEC office on Thursday. He said that the shutdown of the telecommunications services was a part of efforts by security personnel to crack down on bandits in the state due to the frequent attacks that had been reported there.
Over half of the state’s population, according to Zarewa, was unable to access the ongoing voter registration drive because telecommunications services had been shut down in the 17 LGAs.
“Like some other sister states, Niger, Kaduna, Zamfara, and Sokoto, we (Katsina) had our share of security challenges, particularly in the frontline LGAs and others.
“The state government at a time found it necessary to suspend telecommunication network. Therefore we had to stop voters registration for the duration of that suspension.
“That’s why we suspended the registration of voters in those 17 LGAs out of 34, which means at a time, we were not doing registration for half of the state, made up of the Local Governments of Jibia, Batsari, Kurfi, Dutsinma, Danmusa, Safana, Matazu, Musawa Kafur Malumfashi, Danja, Bakori, Sabuwa, Funtua, Dandume, Faskari and Kankara. These mentioned areas are on the outskirts of Rugu forest, where most of the bandits are alleged to be hiding.
“That was why at a time, we were moving with states that had the lesser population or lesser number of registered voters. Because if you check, Katsina State is number 4 by population in Nigeria; after Kano, Lagos, and Kaduna, then is Katsina. It was also number 4 for voters registration after Lagos, Kano, Kaduna, and Katsina.
“Then later another reason, people were rarely coming out after the suspension was lifted.”
However, Zarewa noted that recently, the state has been witnessing a surge in the registration of voters.
“I want to say and put on record that the Katsina Emirate Council last week did something very robustly, by engaging the relevant stakeholders and putting more impetus with district and village ward heads to go round and mobilise people to come out for registration.
“As a result, from Friday last week and even this week, we have seen the jump over what we used to experience in the past. We have seen a lot of people turning out for the registration.
“If you look at the review of the records of registration done within the week, you can see that Katsina is now number 23 in registration. So we believe that we will do better these few days that remain before closing.”