There was mid drama in the stakeholders’ meeting organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), ahead of the November 16 governorship election in the Bayelsa State, as elders from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress engaged in a heated argument that resulted to a rowdy session.
The stakeholders’ meeting, which had in attendance the national chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, came to an abrupt end when the Chairman of the PDP Elders forum, Chief Francis Doukpola, alleged that the last presidential and national elections in the state was the worst election conducted in the state and INEC has done anything to correct it.
He also accused the APC of violence in Nembe Basambiri community of Nembe LGA, which has resulted to most of the indigenes fleeing the communities and living as IDPs in other neighbouring communities.
According to Dr. Doukpolagha, “we are busy talking about 2015 elections and we forgot that we had an elections in 2019. The the presidential and national assembly elections in the state were the worst elections organised by INEC.
“Because of that elections part of a community is living in Internally Displaced Camp( IDP) because they do not belong to a particular party which INEC has not done anything about it, am talking of the people of Nembe Bassambiri”
In a swift reaction, a stakeholder of the APC, Barr. Dennis Otiotio, shouted him down, accusing him of lying, and part of the people causing troubles in the state rather than playing a neutral role.
The INEC national chairman and other dignitaries including top security agencies hurriedly left the venue of the programme.
Earlier speaking, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, charged all the political parties participating in the November 16 Bayelsa governorship election to conduct themselves and their supporters to ensure a violence free and credible election.
According to the INEC boss, Bayelsa and Kogi States were major elections for INEC as well as the nation, Nigeria, saying that is why INEC is somehow breaking most tradition by holding the meeting with stakeholders one month to the election instead of a few days to the election as have been the prediction of the commission.
He further disclosed that 45 political parties are fielding candidates for the governorship election as against 20 political parties that fielded candidates in 2015, adding that the purpose for convening the meeting was to assure of the commission readiness to conduct a free, fair and credible election.
He said, “We want to assure all stakeholders that the commission is committed to a free and fair process. We shall maintain our integrity and I have said over and over and I wouldn’t be tired of repeating myself that INEC is not a political party. We have no candidate in the Bayelsa state election.
In his address, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Bayelsa State, Pastor Monday Udom Tom, said the Voter Education Department of the commission has been involved in massive sensitization of the electorate particularly those at the grassroots to desist from selling their votes.
He said, “One area that gives me a lot of concern is the issue of void votes. The Voter Education Department is working round the clock to reduce or eliminate this mistake by voters. This is where your responsibility comes in as stakeholders; please enlighten your constituents, members and voters on how to fix their thumb print mark on the ballot paper.
“Still on the issue of sensitization, ADR Directorate has engaged traditional rulers and influential persons in Bayelsa State on mitigation of violence, hate speech and vote buying. The department has also made arrangements to engage the youths and religious leaders of the state.”