Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The Ambassador of Ireland to Nigeria, Mr. Sean Hoy, has declared that he would encourage ambassadors of the European Union countries to closely monitor elections in Rivers and other Niger Delta States to promote transparent and credible polls in 2019.
This is as the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, stated that in 2019, the votes of the people must count, insisting that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must conduct the elections in line with the Electoral Act and guidelines.
Addressing journalists after a closed-door meeting, with Rivers State Governor, at the Government House in Port Harcourt yesterday, Hoy noted that his country is interested in violence-free polls in the region.
He said: â€œI will be encouraging my colleagues that we should be on ground, supporting democracy, transparent, free and fair elections â€œThe Rivers State governor and I agreed that with transparency, free, fair and credible elections, the risk of violence will reduce.â€
He congratulated the governor for his developmental strides and efforts in dealing with insecurity in the area, which has led to the growth in oil production and revenue.
Hoy said: â€œI congratulated the governor on his efforts and the efforts of the local authorities in the state in dealing with insecurity in the Niger Delta. Now, we have seen an increase in oil production for Nigeria and this is benefiting all Nigerians.â€
The ambassador added that he discussed the development of the agriculture sector with the Rivers State Governor.
â€œNigeria is blessed with wonderful resources. I have spoken several times about the potential for agricultural development. Agriculture is important, industry is important and processing industries are important. In order to advance all these, peace and security are key. With peace and security in Nigeria, everything is possible,â€ he said.
Responding, Wike, said if INEC and security agencies play by the rules, it would reduce the level of violence in 2019.
He said the government and people of the state were ready to support any process that would lead to credible, free and fair elections.
â€œNeed for better recognition and inclusion of informal trade in the negotiations; â€œConscious and systematic provision of information to industry players and the general citizens on AfCFTA processes and substance by governments, the RECs and the AUC;
â€œAnd the necessity for a structured mechanism for the systematic and effective participation by all stake-holders, including Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), the private sector and the RECs in further processes of the AfCFTA negotiation going forward.â€
MAN added that these mechanisms should operate from national, regional to continental levels, and should specially include the womenâ€™s groups, farmers, workers, small and medium enterprises, national and domestic producers and other strategic as well as more vulnerable socio-economic constituencies.