A traditional ruler of Opuama Kingdom in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, HRM Kenneth Ngoo Okpokeme, has said many eligible voters could not cast their votes because of transport fare.
The monarch explained that many voters were unable to travel to riverine areas in the ongoing governorship election due to expensive transport fares.
Speaking with The Whistler on Saturday, Okpokeme lamented that transport fares to riverine areas cost about N20,000.
He said, “Many people would not vote because it costs about N20,000 to travel to some riverine communities in Ijaw South LGA as well as Brass LGA. It is our peculiar problem here. Unfortunately, those living outside their communities were encouraged to return home to obtain their permanent voter cards.
“Many complied. But with the removal of fuel subsidies, many won’t vote. It costs over N10,000 just to go to my kingdom from Yenagoa. How many people can afford it? I will advise that people vote wherever they reside. I can count over 500 persons who could not travel on Friday because speed boat operators increased their fees by over 100%. Many of our communities cannot be accessed by cars.”
The royal father, however, prayed for peace in the state. According to him, “All the political parties have campaigned very well. As a traditional ruler, my prayer is that there should be no violence during the election. I believe that the election will be very peaceful.
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“Our people want to vote. You can see the crowd and the surge at polling units. They want to elect their governor. That is why we are all here. Those going into creeks have enormous challenges. Outside this election, for one to go to southern Ijaw alone costs about N10,000 to go and another N10,000 to return. Our challenge is mainly that of transportation. Some places take about four hours. Some cost more than N10,000.
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