INDEPENDENT National Electoral Commission, INEC, said it had always been ready to conclude the suspended rerun parliamentary elections in Rivers, but subject to conducive environment for the exercise. Deputy Director of Voter Education and Publicity in the Commission, Mr Nick Dazang stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN. Dazang spoke in reaction to the December 10 deadline given to the Commission by the National Assembly on Wednesday to conduct the outstanding polls in Rivers. The Senate had threatened to suspend plenary if INEC failed to meet the deadline. Dazang said that it was unfortunate that in spite of the Commission’s readiness for the elections, some stakeholders in the state were unco-operative, not helping to create peaceful environment needed for conduct of the exercise. He said that as a sign of good faith, INEC had engaged stakeholders in several meetings in Abuja and in the state on the issue. “In fact, at a point we articulated a road map of activities that would climax with the National and State Assembly elections in the state. Sadly, on the eve of the proposed schedule for the conduct of the elections in that state, our office in one of the local government areas of the state was razed down. “In spite of this, we have remained resolute in our determination and have continued to engage with stakeholders. Our determination is further underscored by the fact that recently, the Commission directed all relevant departments to submit their inputs for the Rivers National and State Assembly elections,” he said. The deputy director said that the Commission’s initial plan was to conclude all suspended elections before the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States in September and November,
respectively. “This was however truncated by the spate of violence particularly in Rivers and the inflammatory rhetoric of some stakeholders,” he said. He, however, assured that with the ultimatum by the lawmakers, INEC would meet with the stakeholders to review the situation and agree on a date. NAN recalls that the re-run elections in the state ordered by the judiciary and scheduled for March 19, 2016, were cancelled in parts of the state due to high level of violence. The Commission fixed July 31 to conclude the elections but was again forced to postpone it following reports of violence ahead of the polls. It therefore resolved that it would return to the state to conclude the elections only when the state government and all stakeholders give undertaking of adequate security during the period the exercise would be conducted. Dazing told NAN that neither the Rivers government nor the stakeholders had given the undertaking. Meanwhile, Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike has commended the Nigerian Senate for rising to the occasion and in defence of democracy as concerns the re-run elections in the state. The governor declared that it was important that Rivers State got her full representation at the Senate, the House of Representatives and the state House of Assembly. Speaking at the Government House, Port Harcourt, when he granted audience to a delegation of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission yesterday, he said, “I thank God that the Senate has risen to the occasion. It is important that the Senate has taken the right action that will ensure that Rivers State gets her representatives, to speak for the state, when issues of national importance are discussed in the Senate and the House of Representatives.” He reiterated that there was no reason for the INEC to be unable to conduct the re-run elections because the state still generated the highest oil revenue and no pipeline vandalised as a result of insecurity.
Commenting on the presentation by the delegation, Governor Wike faulted the claim that the non-oil sector was then generating 50 percent of the nation’s revenue since recession. He noted that the country still relied on oil revenue, but pointed out that it was necessary to diversify the country’s revenue generation mechanism. He however stated that the state government would support the auditing and generation of statistics of the non-oil revenue sector by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission. Leader of the delegation and federal commissioner, Mr Sanya Omirin said the team was in the state to conduct a holistic auditing of the non-oil sector, verify mining companies with licences; verify mining leases and confirm royalties that accrue from mining. He added that the Commission was working to bring all mining operators within the tax operations of the government for revenue generation. Omirin said the step had become necessary because of the need to diversify the nation’s economy. Also, the APC candidate for Rivers South-East senatorial district, Senator Magnus Abe also commended the Senate for the political will it exhibited in giving INEC an ultimatum on pending re-run elections. Senator Abe regretted that the state had suffered much from lack of representation in the Senate and House of Representatives. The Rivers State House of Assembly has passed a resolution urging the INEC to conduct elections into the 11 constituencies that are still pending. This came a day after Senate threatened to suspend plenary if INEC failed to conclude elections in Rivers State in 50 days. Moving a motion under ‘Matter of Public Interest’ at the House yesterday, its leader, Hon Martins Amaewhule said though the House did not have powers to oversight INEC since it is a federal agency, the motion became necessary as the constituents had suffered lack of representation. “We will not be acting ultra vires, even though we don’t have oversight on INEC as a federal body; but we must join forces with others all over the nation that have come out to condemn the act. The best we can do as an august assembly is to add our voice to the call on the electoral body to do the needful,” he said. He therefore prayed that the Assembly “condemns the nonconduct of re-run elections by INEC; that the House do urge INEC as a matter of urgency to conduct election in the remaining constituencies; that the House directs the state governor to inform the federal government of INEC’s refusal to conclude elections in the state.” In their debates, lawmakers supported the prayers raised in the motion, which was seconded by Hon Sam Ogeh, representing Emohua constituency. Opening debate, Hon Major Jack, representing Akuku-Toru 1, argued that Rivers State was safe for elections, and wondered why INEC had failed to conduct re-run elections in the state. On his part, Hon Edison Ehie said the absence of those constituencies during budget presentation both at the national and state assemblies would negatively affect the economic life of the people. He accused INEC of conniving with some powers from above to dismember Rivers people from the rest of Nigeria, as he called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to probe the activities of INEC as concerns Rivers re-run elections. When the matter was put to vote, the lawmakers adopted all prayers in the motion. Commenting, Speaker Adams Dabotoru Dima expressed regret over the non-representation of some constituencies both at the state and national assemblies. He directed the clerk of the House to convey the resolution to Governor Nyesom Wike. The House also passed a resolution condemning the extra judicial killing of a footballer in the state, Joseph Martin Isu, by the Nigerian Army. The motion was moved by Hon Nwanaka Okpokiri representing Ahoada West under Matter of Public Interest.


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  • SANI MUSA

    Who told Dazang that Rives is not safe, if not Ameachi.. INEC will regret their action in the hand of God. since they only obey an individual and has not fair of God, By denying people of there representative.