Ahead of Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections, there was a surge in traffic at both the Murtala Muhammad Airport (MMA) domestic terminal in Lagos and Nnamadi Azikwe International airports in Abuja yesterday as people travelled to their various destinations ostensibly in a bid to cast their vote.
The MMA2 was busy Thursday unlike the normal day when our correspondent visited with many passengers who could not book online struggled to buy ticket on the counter.
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A passenger, Miss. Juliet Ezinne who was heading to Owerri, Imo State told our correspondent that she was going home where she registered to perform her civic duty.
“This election is very important, I want my vote to count, that is why I am travelling home”, she said.
However, many flights were delayed owing to what sources called VIP movements.
“The delays you talked about were because of VIP movement. Many dignitaries came into the town and for security reasons, scheduled commercial aircraft were delayed until the VIP flights left”, the source who preferred anonymity.
Spokesman of Dana Air, Mr. Kingsley “People were going to their various states to vote, some are going to spend time with their families. All the flights did very well today and the surge is likely to spring into the next day (today). Everywhere is busy as you can see”.
At some motor parks, Daily Trust however learnt that while many people were trooping into the country, only few people were travelling out of the state as observed at Ojota Motor Park.
A inter-state driver, Sunday James said, “I don’t think people are travelling like that. You can see this bus is yet to be full since. We are still waiting for passengers”.
Also passengers thronged the Idu train station yesterday to catch the trains to Kaduna.
A lot of the passengers were also traveling with the train to Kaduna but were proceeding to other destinations like Zaria and Kano.
Our correspondent who visited the train station yesterday at about 9:30am to monitor the 9:50am departing train to Kaduna observed huge crowd of passengers and many couldn’t obtain tickets as the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) claim the tickets were sold out as passengers were more than the carrying capacity of the train.
Our correspondent sighted some of the passengers who were visibly agitated even as they claim the NRC staff deliberate hoarded the tickets only to be sold to even passengers that came late at a higher price.
One of the passengers was seen attempting to forcefully gain access to the ticketing room even though the NRC staff had locked the room. He also accused NRC staff of ticket racketing, an allegation, the operations manager, Idu-Kaduna Train Service, Mr. Victor Adamu described as unfounded.
“This morning we sold all our seats for the 0950hrs train to Kaduna” he said.
Concerning hoarding of tickets, he said “I will say this is not correct as the number of intending passengers far outweighed the number of seats available for sale. We have a challenge of inadequate capacity to meet demand at high peak periods like these. However, any of our staff caught hoarding tickets will be disciplined” he explained.
Some of the passengers who spoke to correspondent claimed there were traveling to excise their constitutional rights.
One of the passengers who simply identified himself as Mohammed said he’s traveling with my family to Zaria to vote the candidate of their choice.
Hajiya Aisha Ibrahim, who was traveling to Kaduna also expressed same sentiments.
However, some passengers were traveling ahead just because the trains won’t operate Saturday and possibly Sunday because of the elections.
At the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, our correspondent reports that the airport also witnessed a significant increase of passengers at the domestic wing of the airport.
A traveler, Alhaji Mudashiru Abdullahi, said he was traveling to Sokoto ahead of the election on Saturday because he registered there.
Abdullahi urged Nigerians to vote for the candidates of their choice peacefully, adding that the interest and peace of the nation should be more important than the candidates.
He also urged politicians to guide their supporters towards peaceful poll, saying “there can only be election if there is Nigeria”.
Meanwhile, Mr Saleh Dunoma, Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), has assured that FAAN is committed to ensuring smooth movements of election materials for the Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Dunoma, who spoke yesterday in Abuja said that the transportation of election materials had since commenced and would be completed successfully ahead of the elections.
He said that FAAN had put adequate measures in place in terms of facilitation and security to ensure hitch free operations because of the importance of the exercise to the nation.
According to him, airports are equally ready to process passengers that would be travelling to and from different parts of the country for the elections.