Twenty-seven political parties in Rivers State have indicated interest to participate in the council elections scheduled to take place on May 23 this year, despite initial resistance in some quarters.
It would be recalled that many commentators, especially supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state, had condemned the move by Governor Chibuike Amaechi to conduct local government election in the state, against the backdrop of the limited time left for the May 29 handover date.
But the state government had argued that it is acting in line with the state electoral law which permits the conduct of the election within the stipulated time.
Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission, RSIEC, in a statement in Port Harcourt issued by the commissioner in charge of Media and Public Affairs, Hon Ibiso Dakoru stated that 27 out of the registered political parties in the country had collected and submitted expression of interest forms to the commission for participation in the local government polls.
According to Dakoru, political parties are to submit date, time and venue of their primaries to the RSIEC headquarters between Monday, April 27, and Tuesday, April 28.
The statement noted further that elections are to hold in 22 of the 23 local government areas in the state, apart from Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area, where the tenure of the council chairman, Hon Austin Ahiamadu, will come to an end later in the year.
The RSEIC commissioner assured that the commission was committed to “free, fair, transparent and credible council elections,” calling on all the political parties to abide by the rules.
She also expressed confidence that stakeholders and security agencies in the state would collaborate to ensure the success of the council polls.
Meanwhile, as at the time of filing this report, Nigerian Pilot findings revealed that no attempt was made by the PDP in the state to collect the expression of interest forms whose timeline for collection ended last Friday.
Earlier in his reaction to the conduct of the local government election, the PDP had described the RSIEC’s schedule of the elections few weeks to the end of the tenure of Governor Amaechi as a waste of resources.
The PDP had picked holes in the 14 days notice extended to political parties by the RSIEC to conduct the council polls, arguing that the Electoral Act stipulates 90 days notice to political parties to conduct any election, therefore vowing not to participate in the scheduled elections.
Similarly, special adviser to the state PDP chairman on media and publicity, Jerry Needam, has described the “sudden announcement” of the local government council elections by RSIEC as the agenda of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state to rig its members into chairmanship and councillorship positions as well as rob the people of the state the opportunity to chose their true representatives at the local government level.

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