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U.S. insists on free, fair, peaceful guber poll in Bayelsa

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Claire Pierangelo

• Another aide resigns from Dickson cabinet
• APC moves to appeal disqualification of deputy gov candidate
• Police unveil code of conduct for personnel on election duty

Two days to this weekend’s governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi, the United States has made it clear that it expects nothing less than a free, fair, transparent and peaceful exercise.

While noting that it “is also critical that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) operates free from outside pressure and intimidation and in a totally objective manner,” the American nation disclosed that such electoral vices as voter intimidation, vote buying, interference by security forces and violence would not be tolerated.

The U.S. Consul General, Claire Pierangelo, dropped the hint yesterday while briefing journalists on the forthcoming Bayelsa poll.

She noted that the election in the South South state provides a channel for the citizens to choose a leader, who would govern fairly and ensure access to basic services by all.

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She said: “The U.S. and the international community will be watching the election closely in order to deter the potential instigators of violence or those who seek to undermine the democratic process.

“As a friend of Nigeria and its people, we will follow the election closely. We will be out there in the field observing the election. I am aware that many other foreign, international organisations will also be on ground in Bayelsa.

“We will work closely with our colleagues and partners in the international community to promote a credible process that will benefit the people of Bayelsa State.”

On why the American government was interested in Bayelsa when two governorship elections are holding same day, the envoy explained that as a consulate and not the embassy, the state falls within the purview of her jurisdiction.

“I recently returned from Bayelsa State as part of my first trip to the Niger Delta region since assuming my role as the Consul General.

“During the visit, I met with the leading candidates and leadership of the political parties. In all of my public and private engagements with the key stakeholders, I expressed the U.S. expectations regarding an electoral outcome that reflects the will of the people of Bayelsa State,” Pierangelo added.

She stressed that the U.S. government had assisted Nigeria in strengthening its electoral process since 1999.

However, the Senior Special Adviser to Governor Seriake Dickson on Niger Delta Youth Matters,
Kennedy Tonjo-West, has resigned his appointment.

In a letter dated November 13,2019 and addressed to the governor, the ex-aide did not give reasons for leaving government, but expressed appreciation to Dickson for giving him the opportunity to serve.

Tonjo-West however told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN that he remained a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Besides, the All Progressives Congress (APC) is to challenge the disqualification of its deputy governorship candidate, Senator Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo.

A Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, on Tuesday, disqualified Degi-Eremienyo for submitting “false information” to INEC.

The state APC Chairman, Chief Amos Jothan, in a statement yesterday in Yenagoa, described the ruling as a “miscarriage of justice.”

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had on September 18 approached the court seeking the disqualification of the candidate over alleged falsification of information.

In a related development, the Nigeria Police Force has launched a code of conduct for its personnel who would be engaged on election duty in the state this weekend.

The Commissioner of Police, Uche Alozie, made the disclosure during a workshop yesterday in the capital.

He said the code was necessary to enlighten the personnel on the need for professionalism before, during and after the election.


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