Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has assured that the governorship poll in Bayelsa State on November 16 will be concluded on the first ballot.
Yakubu gave the assurance during a two-day working visit to Yenagoa, capital of Bayelsa, where he met with traditional rulers, political parties, security agencies, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), the media and other stakeholders.
“In 2015, elections were disrupted in six of the eight councils. In southern Ijaw, we couldn’t deploy our officials due to massive shooting. So, only one council had no problem because election there was conclusive and results declared.
“I am confident that this time around, elections will be conducted peacefully and conclusively on the first ballot,” he stated. According to the INEC boss, the Bayelsa visit and the decision to meet with the stakeholders are part of efforts in ensuring that the election is violence-free.
Maintaining that traditional rulers play crucial role in peaceful and credible polls, Yakubu however warned that certain actions and utterances lead to breach of peace during the electoral process.
Aside the challenge of logistics, the attitude of the political class in the state has also been a source of concern to the commission, he said.“No one can accuse you of partisanship. Like the commission, you belong to no political party. Your works are known in your communities.
“We appeal to you to continue to speak to your subjects, the political actors in particular and their supporters, on peaceful conduct during the electoral process. Use your wide network to continue to drive the narrative of peace,” he added.
The INEC boss further warned that the commission would no longer tolerate attacks on its officials during elections, noting that such actions would attract sanctions, including withholding the Certificate of Return (CoR) of any candidate caught in the act. Chairman of the Bayelsa State Council of Traditional Rulers, Amanyanabo of Twon Brass, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, appealed to security agencies to avoid partisanship.
He assured of the neutrality of monarchs in the state.King Diete-Spiff decried the “heavy military presence” in the state during the last general elections.“We need to appeal to the army in particular to try and contain their men, so they won’t scare people off the elections. We, as royal fathers, are neutral. We don’t carry any party flag. We believe that when the election is over, whatever government that comes in will be given the fullest support,” he stated.
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