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ADC, NCP, SDP task INEC, FG on free, fair, credible guber elections in Kogi, Bayelsa

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Chief Ralphs Nwosu

The leadership of Social Democratic Party (SDP), African Democratic Congress (ADC), and National Conscience Party (NCP) have urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Federal Government to ensure that the coming governorship elections scheduled to hold in Kogi and Bayelsa States on November 16 are free, fair, and credible.

The positions of the parties, which are considered as underdog political platforms set to participate in both contests, apart from All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kogi and Bayelsa, is coming on the premise that the presidency is allegedly interested in the reelection of the incumbent governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, who is considered to be unpopular among the electorate. For Bayelsa, there is also the concern that the incumbent and outgoing Governor Henry Seriake Dickson of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is bent on using the state’s political machinery to ensure that his preferred candidate, Senator Douye Diri, who emerged as standard bearer of the party against the interest of the some powerful stakeholders win the gubernatorial contest by all means possible.

In a telephone conversation with The Guardian yesterday, National Chairman of ADC, Chief Ralph Nwosu, while expressing confidence that the party has picked the most qualified and popular candidate to fly its flag in the November 16 contest, a former Secretary to Kogi State Government and seasoned lawyer, Chief (Mrs.) Justina Dolapo Abanida, has all it takes to defeat the incumbent governor and also dust PDP if the election is free and fair.

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According to Nwosu, “All we expect from INEC is to create a level-playing ground for all the parties and candidates in the race to Kogi and Bayelsa Government Houses and I can bet it that ADC stands better chance to defeat the two major parties in the race.”

For Kogi, he said ADC has entered into a strong partnership with critical stakeholders in the state ahead of the election and “I can easily boast that we already have the support of the womenfolk, youth and elders who are yearning for change, especially the dark four years of Governor Bello, which has forced the state on its kneels.”

The ADC national chairman also expressed confidence that something new and drastic will take place in Bayelsa if INEC is neutral in the contest, noting, “We are banking on the fact that Nigerians are now wiser and ready to protect their votes.”

While speaking on the quality of Abanida, the national chairman said the flag bearer has at various times served as chairperson, State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), and the Attorney-General of Kogi State. National Secretary of ADC, Alhaji Said Baba Abdullahi, who was the returning officer during governorship primary that produced Abaniba, said she has what it takes to make Kogi a model state in Nigeria.

Abanida has promised the people of Kogi that the real transformation has just begun, saying, “With heart and handshake, I will unite our people and build a confluence of tolerance, peace, justice and unparalleled development. Ours is a model party with a vision-driven purpose, and very strategic focus. We must deliver for the people of Kogi and Nigeria.”

In a separate telephone chat with The Guardian, SDP spokesman, Mr. Yemi Akinbode, said there is the need for all the minor parties to come together to form a common front ahead of the Kogi and Bayelsa gubernatorial polls. Although, Akinbode acknowledged the fears that there is the likelihood of presidential meddlesomeness, especially in the Kogi State contest based on President Muhammadu Buhari’s alleged vested interest in Bello’s reelection, he urged the electorate in the state to be resolute and come out en mass to vote their choice candidate, which according to him is the only means they could deliver themselves from bad governance and wayward political leaders.

According to him, “We have always said power should return to the people. There is the need to keep to the principle of one-man one-vote in the coming governorships elections and this is where SDP is tasking the umpire to live up to its expectation.”

Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello

While he disclosed that the party is still working out how to substitute the names of its candidate in Bayelsa State, Akinbode said the emergence of Natasha Akpoti as SDP’s candidate for the Kogi State governorship was strategic and would change the equation come November i6. Akpoti’s emergence was announced after indirect primary. The female governorship flag bearer hopes to take advantage of the population of women, like her counterpart in ADC, to defeat Bello and PDP’s candidate, Musa Wada, in the election. She won the primary with a total of 751 votes with 11 invalid votes from 856 SDP members in the state.

The female governorship candidate expressed appreciation to the 751 delegates who voted her just as he assured the electorate of her readiness to provide good governance if elected.

According to her, “I promise to implement free education from primary to secondary school level, make the state tertiary institutions affordable for all and sundry and improve the standard of public schools to international standard. In SMEs development, without office I empowered 5,000 women across the state with N20,000 free interest loan. I promise to implement soft loans to help strengthen the economy and make a Kogi State industrial an hub of the nation.”

In another conversation, national Chairman of National Conscience Party (NCP), Dr. Takno Yinusa, said it is important for INEC to put its internal mechanisms in place in order before, during and after the November 16 governorship elections in the two states. He said it has been established there would be flashpoints in not less than five local governments in Kogi while the creeks and riverine areas in Bayelsa are most likely going to be tensed up during the elections. Yinusa stated that the people of Bayelsa would definitely want to see a free and fair election following the manner in which PDP’s primary was conducted and the intrigues that characterised APC’s primary, which, of course, is making the electorate anxious in the state.

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According to him, “Kogi is going to be volatile because of the vested interest of the presidency in a candidate that the people don’t want. About five to six local government areas will be volatile and INEC must stand up to that challenge,” also warning against the planned militarization of the two elections, saying if that were done, the electorate may be discouraged to come out and exercise their voting rights.

Meanwhile, spokesman of PDP, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said the party is going to retain power in Bayelsa while it stands a better chance to defeat APC in Kogi due to poor performance of the incumbent. He dismissed insinuations that the party’s primary was tailored to favour a particular candidate.

In a recent interaction with the media on Kogi, Bayelsa elections, National Leader of APC, Bola Tinubu, said he expected nothing less of victory for the party. He also dismissed the insinuation that the incumbent in Kogi has not performed to expectation.

He said, “If you don’t have complaints in politics, then there is no democracy. So, we only pay attention to the noise in the market, because we have so many apples, oranges and various fruits of different character.”

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