Fresh Elections to Hold in 124 Polling Units in Bayelsa
Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has rescheduled election in at least 124 polling units in disputed areas in the state.
Head of Voter Education and Publicity in the state, Mr Wilfred Ifogah, listed the affected areas as Southern Ijaw, Ogbia and Brass local governments.
The Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) had raised the alarm that elections did not take place in several parts of Bayelsa as the elections were highly militarised and characterised by intimidation, ballot snatching and manipulation of results.
Ifogah noted that a stakeholders’ meeting will be held with all concerned parties before the election to acquaint them with their roles during the rescheduled polls.
According to the INEC, while elections will be conducted in six polling units in Brass, it will be carried out in 65 units in Ogbia, while in Southern Ijaw 53 polling units were affected.
Meanwhile, a PDP governorship aspirant in Bayelsa, Mr Keniebi Okoko, has said that INEC was yet to justify the huge resources made available to the electoral umpire by the Federal Government.
He noted that with the amount that was budgeted for the elections, the problem of logistics and Information Technology infrastructure shouldn’t be a problem for INEC.
Speaking during an interview in his country home in Yenagoa, Okoko, a businessmen and cleric, noted that the world had moved beyond the use of thumbprint in elections and urged Nigeria to embrace technology in the conduct of elections.
He also condemned the use of the military in the elections, describing it as an aberration.
He said: “In every democratic nation, the military man at any point in time is not supposed to be seen by any civilian. His duty post is in the barracks, combat ready to defend the sovereignty of the nation, combat ready to defend the borders of his nation with integrity.
“The duty of the military is to uphold the dignity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I have not seen it in any civilised democratic nation where you deploy the military for elections. I have not seen.
“Venezuela, that is in a problem now, it is rare to see the military trooping out except in extreme situations that the police cannot handle. Venezuela is ten million times worse than Nigeria now.
“Their currency has zero value, they have no food and they have to cross to Columbia to get food, but there I still don’t see the military coming out in full force, you can see pockets of them but more of the police.
“The police are trained to have interaction with the civilians. The police are trained to combat and quell unrest. The military is trained to kill. The military is trained to destroy any adversary of a nation, so who are they going to destroy during the elections.
“That’s the question I ask. Are we at war here? There is no war in Port Harcourt, there is no war in Bayelsa, but there is war in Sambisa forest. I would rather they deploy those soldiers to Sambisa forest so that our soldiers can deal with Boko Haram once and for all.”