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We’re prepared for gov poll –REC

By

Simon Utebor, Yenagoa

The Independent National Electoral Commission has stated its preparedness to conduct Saturday’s governorship poll in Bayelsa State.

The state’s Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Baritor Kpagih, said this on Saturday during an interactive town hall meeting, broadcast live on a private radio station, Royal FM, with the theme, ‘Promoting Credible Non-Violent Election in Bayelsa State’.

The interactive session was jointly organised ahead of the December 5 poll by two non-governmental organisations – the Stakeholder Democracy Network and Bayelsa State Non-Governmental Organisations Forum.

Participants included over 15 stakeholder groups, members of the National Youth Service Corps and community representatives, drawn from the eight local government areas of the state.

The REC stated that INEC had procured card readers and three back-ups for each of the 1,804 polling units in the state.

Kpagih noted that with the level of preparedness by INEC and adequate security in place, Bayelsa governorship election would be free, fair and credible.

A guest speaker and don, Ibaba Ibaba, lamented the inability of community chiefs in Bayelsa to promote peaceful election.

Ibaba, a professor of Political Science at the state-owned Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island, observed that the incapacitation of the community chiefs resulted from the struggles of the people of the region.

The Don, who spoke on ‘Practical Ways Communities Can Promote Peaceful Election’, stated that community leaders and parents had lost control over their children.

“Our chiefs and parents have lost control of youths as a direct consequence of the struggles for resource control,” he said.

He added that cross-endorsements of party candidates by the chiefs, chairmen of community development committees and youth leaders had eroded the cohesion needed by communities to promote peaceful polls.

Ibaba listed lack of knowledge of the electoral processes and guidelines, INEC’s poor response to issues on election day and inadequate logistics as well as high rate of drug intake by youths as some of the factors that could trigger electoral violence.

He called for a reversal of all the conditions that had the potential to cause electoral violence, stressing that a peaceful election engenders political stability in the society.

The state Commissioner of Police, Nasiru Oki, represented by the Divisional Police Officer, Akenfa Division, Ani Ofodire, also gave an ‘Update on Security’ and said the police were ready for the poll.

In his own contribution, the Vice President, World Youth Assembly, Preye Ketebu-Brown, who spoke on ‘Youths and the Political Space’, urged the youth to be wary of the antics of politicians.

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