Guber Poll: Bayelsa Govt May Demand Date Shift

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Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa

There are indications that the Bayelsa State Government may have requested the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to consider effecting a change in the November 2 date scheduled for the governorship election in the state.

Aside the political leadership in the state, other stakeholders like the clergies were said to have disagreed with the date for the poll because it is a Thanksgiving public holiday.

It was further gathered that the stakeholders were unhappy over the seeming lack of consultation by the electoral body before fixing the date.

The day is regarded as a remarkable one in the calendar of the state with public institutions closed and churches of all denominations will converge on the 15,000 capacity state-owned Ecumenical Centre, while other religions are encouraged to go to their places of worship annually as a mark of respect for God.

When the state Governor, Seriake Dickson, took over in 2012, the bill declaring November 2 as a work-free day was the first sent by his administration to the state House of Assembly.

Being his last year as governor of the state, it was learnt that the governor was planning to make the day an eventful one before the announcement by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

A source said the governor had already written to INEC explaining reasons for a change of date, while the response was still being awaited.

It wasn’t clear if the government had an alternative plan if INEC declines the request, but stakeholders in the state believe that it might set the tone for a hostile relationship between the leadership of the state and the electoral body as the election draws near.

A frequent preacher at government functions and General Overseer of the Royal House Grace International Church, Apostle Zilly Aggrey, urged INEC to review the date to ensure it doesn’t clash with the Thanksgiving Day.

The respected cleric urged the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Yakubu Mahmmud, to shift the election as a mark of deference for God.

“The Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmud, must show respect for God by shifting the November 2, 2019, date announced for the state governorship election,” he said.