Bayelsa guber poll will be free, fair – INEC
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared its readiness to conduct credible, free and fair governorship election in Bayelsa State on November 16.
Speaking in Yenagoa during a meeting with Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) to adopt alternative dispute resolutions on electoral matters, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Monday Udoh, called on all stakeholders to respect the rules of engagement.
Udoh, who was represented by Head of Department, Election and Party Monitoring, M.C. Nwankwo, said parties partaking in the election must act within the ambits of the constitution, the Electoral Act and guidelines insisting that election is a two-way activity involving the commission and other stakeholders.
He said: “We also wish to reassure that we are not unmindful of some of your tricks you employ to truncate the electoral process in a time like this, but we are assuring you that with the cooperation of the security agencies we will deal with the violators of electoral laws.
“As we approach the gubernatorial election, the commission will embark on robust voter enlightenment with our stakeholders in the electoral process and we urge you as the Chairman and members of IPAC in the state to help us enlighten the people in your domain about the various aspects of the election.
“These include the voting procedures, the importance of voting, mobilization of voters especially the women, youths and people living with disabilities. The need to maintain peace within our environments and domain should be emphasized.
“We wish to enjoy you all in this assembly not to hesitate to avail us of any suggestion that will help us immensely in realizing our goal of free, fair and credible election in the state”.
Udoh commended the political parties for their cooperation and encouragement during the last general elections in the state saying their support and suggestions led to peaceful and credible poll.
He told the parties to explore the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to resolve their electoral disputes against the conventional litigations in court.
“ADR is a method that guarantees more lasting peace and settlement and in most cases ensure a win-win settlement amongst the disputing political parties.
“Soon in the next couple of weeks, we shall implement all the other activities and fulfill the mandate thrust upon us by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and we are hopeful that with your support, suggestions and encouragement we shall deliver a free, Fair and credible election come 16th November, 2019 in Bayelsa state”.
Speaking at the occasion, the party representatives commended INEC for introducing ADR in resolving electoral matters promising to cooperate with the commission for a free and fair elections.
Mrs. Charity Godwin of Rebuild Nigeria Party (RNP) said the engagements with INEC was an eye-opener on ADR and promised to transmit her knowledge to other members of her party, who were not present at the event.
“The introduction of the ADR came at the right time. We are preparing for a local government election coming and also on the 16th of November we are having our gubernatorial election. So, all of these sensitizations will go a long way to enhance our belief that the process will be free and fair”, she said.
Also, the INEC’s Director, ADR, Clement Oha, said it was wisdom on the part of INEC to adopt ADR saying the cases in court after the party primaries of the last general election were huge and embarrassing to the electoral process.
Oha said: “After the party primaries of 2019 general elections, the number of cases that were pilled up in court was huge and embarrassing to the democratic process and INCE as a commission.
“So, the commission deemed it fit and appropriate to engage all category of people involved in the electoral process to find a way of reducing the number of allegations that they normally have after everything.
“That is why we are going round the few state that are going to have governorship elections in the next couple of months Bayelsa and Kogi states and we have been engaging the electorate and we have been happy with the result we are getting for now”.
On why major political parties such as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) were absent at the gathering, he said the commission would not force anybody.
“We contacted all the political parties involved through IPAC, and if for any reason any of them decide not to be here we can not go and force them to come here, but you know the result, you know what happened in Zamfara and what happen in Rivers State.
“We have been communicating with them, we have sent our notice to them if they decide not to take the benefit of what we are doing maybe they have a way of resolving their own matter internally.
“The attendance is beyond our imaginations. We never believed that Bayelsa state could have almost 80 political parties. That’s what is in our record, and we have only 91 in the whole country maybe because of the upcoming general elections and some parties are interested in taking part in the election”.