INEC: Bayelsa, Kogi Elections Will Be Difficult


Warns political parties against violence
Says candidates must emerge from valid primaries
John Shiklam in Kaduna

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday disclosed that the conduct of the forthcoming governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States would be very difficult and consequently warned participating political parties against electoral violence.
The INEC, also, warned the political parties in the state that it would not accept any candidate did not emanate from validly conducted party primaries for the Kogi and Bayelsa elections coming up in November.

The National Commissioner of the INEC, Mr. Festus Okoye made the remarks at a public lecture and Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), Kaduna chapter yesterday.

The INEC had in May 16 fixed November 16 for the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states while directing that parties interested in fielding candidates for the polls are expected to hold their primaries between August 2 and August 29.
It had also noted that campaigns would commence from August 2 lasting till October 31. The deadline for the submission of names of agents by parties is October 31.

At the public lecture yesterday, Okoye said the INEC would monitor party primaries for the two elections vigorously, saying it was incumbent on political parties to comply to the provisions of section 87 relating to the conduct of valid primary elections.

He explained that the commission “has already commenced preparations for the election, saying in the next two weeks none sensitive materials required for the conduct of elections will be in the two states.
He, however, noted that elections in the two states “are going to be very difficult because of their difficult terrains. The elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states are going to be very, very difficult elections.

“The terrain in Bayelsa is very, very difficult. Five of the local government areas in Bayelsa state are in the riverine areas and we need a special intervention in those areas in terms of hiring gun boats to protect our materials and our officials.
“The terrain in Kogi is also very difficult. If you look at the history of elections in this country, we have had inconclusive elections in these two states arising majorly from incidences of violence. So, we are taking some of these things on board as we plan for Kogi and Bayelsa.

“In the next two weeks, all of the none sensitive materials required for the conduct of elections in the two states will be in those states, so we are not going to have any challenge with the delivery of none sensitive materials.
“We have started working on the sensitive materials for the two elections. We are going to monitor party primaries in these two elections vigorously and we want to tell the political parties it is incumbent on them to comply to the letter with the provisions of section 87 relating to the conduct of valid primary elections.

“The commissioner will not accept the list of any candidate does not emanate from a validly conducted party primary election because what the political parties are going to have going into their primaries, are aspirants and what they are obligated to submit to the commission is the list of candidates.
“If you do not conduct primary elections, all the people that contested remain as aspirants, therefore, you cannot submit any list to the INEC.

“But we want to assure Nigerians that we are going to conduct a good election in Bayelsa and Kogi and that was why we made sure that conducted the review of the the 2019 elections and all the lessons learned, both positive and critical would be imported into the conduct of Kogi and Bayelsa elections.”

He appealed to the political parties not to overheat the polity and urged them to conduct themselves with some level of civility so that the people can go to the polls confidently to exercise their franchise.

“So if there is going to be any challenge or any problem in Bayelsa and Kogi states, it it not going to come from INEC because we have started training those who are going to conduct those elections and we are not taking anything to chance.

“In terms of the quality of those who are going to serve as presiding officers and collation officer, I can assure you that we are going to train them well. We are also taking to the critical stakeholders in those states already.”

He urged all political leaders and critical stakeholders “to shun violence because we do not want violent elections. But as a commission we are preparing very well.”
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu was among those who were given award by the Kaduna chapter of the NIPR.