By John Ikani
There was unease among residents of Anambra State between Thursday and Friday due to the heavy presence of soldiers, policemen and other security operatives deployed in the state ahead of today’s governorship election.
The development was despite assurances from the proscribed separatist group – Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) – that it had withdrawn the one-week sit-at-home order it handed down to coincide with the election.
Heritage Times gathered that markets, petrol stations, banks, motor parks and shopping complexes were shut.
A few commercial drivers, artisans and motor park workers (agbero) were however seen carrying out partial operations in areas like Unizik Junction, Aroma Junction and Amowbia Bypass. The popular Eke-Awka Market was deserted.
The Police, buoyed by the deployment of 34000 security personnel for the polls, told voters yesterday that they had nothing to worry about as they troop to the polling stations today.
Notwithstanding, there were fears that the election might record a low turnout of voters, as a number of residents were sighted in commercial buses and in private vehicles moving out of the state on Thursday evening.
Some residents said they found the large presence of security personnel and deployment of arms and ammunition in the state ahead of the election intimidating.
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo also yesterday made a last-minute appeal to voters in the state to come out and exercise their right today.
It however seems that the self-imposed sit-at-home by residents appeared to have been partly fuelled by the two days of work-free declared by the state government for the people to prepare for the election.
No fewer than 18 political parties and their candidates are participating in today’s election in the state.
The parties will vie for 2.5 million votes as registered voters are expected to peacefully exercise their franchise for a new governor to emerge.
Major contestants of the election include Valentine Ozigbo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Andy Uba of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and Chukwuma Soludo of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).