Some Ijaw organisations in the Niger Delta have insisted that the impending local government council and gubernatorial elections scheduled for Aug.10 and Nov. 16, respectively should be devoid of electoral manipulations.
The organisations made up of: the Ijaw Elders’ Forum, Ijaw Professionals’ Association, the Ijaw Nation Forum, Ijaw Women Connect and the Embasara Foundation, made the call in a joint statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Saturday.
The statement, signed by Mr Efiye Bribena, noted with dismay the numerous disturbing signals arising in relation to the upcoming local government elections earlier scheduled for July, but now put-off till Aug. 10.
“We note the importance of a virile local government system, and the enshrinement of a democratic electoral process by the 1999 Nigerian Constitution for local governments.
“And with the impending governorship election in the state, we find it pertinent to call on all relevant government authorities, especially the Bayelsa State Independent Electoral Commission (BSIEC) and the Bayelsa Government, to take every necessary precaution for the conduct of rancour-free elections.
“That will earn the trust of the electorate, avoid blood-letting and genuinely bring government closer to the people,’’ the statement said.
The organisations stressed that it was pertinent for critical stakeholders in Bayelsa to close ranks, to ensure that the elections are not hijacked by mischief makers.
“This serves to also remind all political parties, civil society platforms and the general Bayelsa populace to be vigilant against any attempt to deny the people the benefit of the constitutional guarantee of a democratically elected local government system.
“Every lawful step must be pursued to enforce our collective vigilance in the local government council elections and the gubernatorial polls later in the year.
The Ijaw organisations also condemned the sudden resignation of the Chairman of BSIEC, Dr Perekeme Bertola, on grounds of alleged life threats.
They criticised the immediate appointment of Mr Ball Oyarede as the new Chairman of BSIEC.
“The sudden resignation of Dr Perekeme Bertola as chairman of BSIEC, only a few weeks to the local government elections calls for a full investigation.
“This should be followed promptly by the prosecution of identified culprits, if any. We demand nothing less from the state government.
“We urge the Bayelsa government to address the misgivings expressed against the appointment of Mr Ball Oyarede as the new chairman of BSIEC, based on allegations that he is a member of the ruling party in the state.
“This will help to avoid a credibility trap for the elections, more so as 32 political parties have threatened to boycott the polls if his appointment is not reversed and a clearly neutral person appointed to the Office,’’ the statement said.
The body warned that all participants must play by the rules to ensure free and credible elections during and after the elections. (NAN)