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DSIEC Not Ready For Credible LGA Polls -CSOs

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A coalition of the Civil Society Organisations, CSOs in Delta State has raised the alarm over what it described as plan to select and not elect local government chairmen and councillors in the forthcoming election into the 3rd tier of government on Saturday March 6, 2021.

The coalition made this known in a press statement in Warri, the economic nerve of the state at the heels of a well attended stakeholders meeting where the preparedness of the Delta State Independent Electoral Commission, DSIEC was the issue and the group knocked the Commission for its plan to rig the election in favour of the ruling party in the state.

This was revealed in a statement written and signed by Comrade Israel Arigbe, Head, Advocacy, Delta State Civil Society organizations for good governance and credible elections on behalf of the CSOs in the state.

The statement accused the retired Commissioner of Police, Mike Ogbodu-led electoral body of playing the Peoples Democratic Party’s card saying, in the history of local government elections in the oil-rich state, never had the CSOs excluded from election observation and monitoring but this, the group noted, is the new normal brought by governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s administration to select local government leaders in the state a development it noted contradicts the tenets of democracy as against a new feat recorded in INEC conducted governorship election in Edo state that was adjudged by national and international observers and citizens alike as free, fair and credible owing to its transparency and the peoples’ votes were made to count.

According to Arigbe, the CSOs having waited in vain for invitation by the Ogbodu-led DSIEC to meet with the body as tradition demands, wrote a February 1, 2021 dated letter to the Commission requesting the enrollment of the civil societies as observers on Saturday’s election but expressed shock that the Chairman declined response to the letter, a conduct he condemned vehemently describing Ogbodu as an anti democratic element who intends to pitch deltans against one another for selfish reasons.

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As if that was not enough, Comrade Arigbe averred further, that several calls and text messages sent to Ogbodu were ignored as if the CSOs do not matter in an affair that concerns the people and the well-being of the state, noting that no one is more deltan than the other as he advised that it is not too late for the Commission to right its wrong by immediately accommodating the CSOs in its electoral programmes.

Local government election according to the Coalition is a serious matter that must be carefully managed to avoid unsavoury consequences as it noted that from the body language of DSIEC managers, there are reasons to believe that some persons want to set the fragile state on fire, warning that should there be any negative reaction as a result of possible compromise of the process, deltans shall hold Ogbodu and his co-travellers responsible.

As established by the African Charter on Democracy and Good governance particularly article 21 spells out what constitutes a good electoral culture– monitoring and observation forms the fulcrum of good electoral standard.

Accordingly, the act states that: “the Electoral Management Body (EMB) shall ensure the effective participation of citizens through regular and periodic briefing by the EMB on the process of the elections and all relevant information relating to the conduct of a free, fair and credible elections”, this, Arigbe said, DSIEC has flagrantly jettisoned.

All over the world, the Coalition noted, CSOs observe and monitor elections at all levels to ascertain the credibility and fairness of the process saying, unfortunately the Okowa-led PDP administration doesn’t believe in transparency and accountability, a development he said, has being the bane of the current administration describing the action of DSIEC as an affront to the collective sensibilities of the good people of delta state.

The statement called on the international community to beam its searchlight on DSIEC:

“We are calling on well meaning Nigerians and international communities to come to the rescue of deltans on Saturday to forestall the looming anarchy being stoked by those who are supposedly the umpire of the local government election in delta state who are unfortunately becoming the clog in the wheel of electoral process.

“We are also calling on security agencies not to allow themselves to be be used by the DSIEC and Okowa led government to further perpetuate untold hardship on deltans before during and after the local government election come Saturday.

“They want to plunge our dear state into avoidable crisis which may take lives of innocent citizens and bring more misery upon the already bewildered people. We are calling on Okowa to at least manage to get this election right irrespective of his failure in all facets of governance. He should allow the people choose their leaders because we all know the consequences of imposition.

“The Saturday’s election is not just any other election because the people have woken up from their deep slumber and are ready more than ever before to decide who their leaders should be. Deltans crave for election and not selection and this is the pulse of the people as deduced from the electioneering campaigns all over the state. Cutting short their desires may be too dangerous to handle.” The statement reads in part.

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