Don’t fix guber elections on our Thanksgiving Day, Bayelsans beg INEC

The date for the Bayelss state governorship election earlier scheduled on November 2, 2019 may be shifted to another date this Friday as the state has made a passionate appeal to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to slate the election to another date.

Chairman Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof Mahmood Yakubu gave this hint on Tuesday in Abuja after a passionate appeal by a high powered delegation from Bayelsa state complained that the date coincided with the state’s Thanksgiving day.

The INEC chairman also said that “Arising from the arrests made by the security agencies in the 2019 general elections, the commission will soon commence the prosecution of offenders whose case files have been prepared by the Nigeria Police.”
According to Yakubu, “Pre-election litigations through the regular courts (the High Courts, Courts of Appeal and the Supreme Court) have resulted in a number of judgements in favour of petitioners. 
“So far, primary elections conducted by political parties in 22 constituencies across the Federation have been upturned by the regular Courts of Law on account of improper party primaries. 

“May I also appeal to all political parties to ensure the conduct of transparent, credible and rancour-free primaries for the nomination of candidates. 
He further said, “From the 2019 general elections, we have seen how acrimonious party primaries have been, resulting in numerous litigations and making our preparations for elections difficult. We are still grappling with issues arising from the conduct of party primaries. 

“In all cases, we (INEC) have obeyed the orders of court and issued certificates of return to candidates declared winners by the Courts. More of such judgments have been received and are currently under consideration by the Commission.” Yakubu appealed to “all stakeholders in Bayelsa and Kogi states to ensure that the forthcoming governorship elections are devoid of hate speech, intimidation of voters and INEC officials, vote buying, violence including bombing and arson that led to the destruction of election materials and INEC facilities in the last Governorship elections in the two States and other sundry violations of the law.” 
He urged leaders of the political parties in the two states to appeal to their supporters “to ensure that the creeks and waterways, the hills and forests, urban and rural areas, the polling units and collation centres are free of thugs who unleash mayhem that turn a simple democratic process into needless bloodletting.” I want to assure you that on our part, the commission is committed to a free, fair and credible process. We will deploy early, adhere to our guidelines and regulations and ensure a transparent and prompt collation and declaration of results.” 
Earlier, the Bayelsa delegation made up of government officials, traditional rulers and clergymen from the state, had complained that November 2 was dedicated as Bayelsa state Thanksgiving Day. 
Led by the Deputy Governor, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John-Jonah (retd), he stated that the date was marked to remember the creation in 1996 and thank God for all they have achieved.
John-Jonah said the state had equally enacted a law at the State House of Assembly to give it legal backing. 
Hr also noted that 15,000 seater ecumenical centre had been built used ad venue for the state’s thanksgiving day.
The deputy governor said it would not be out of place for INEC to reconsider the date because of its significance and relevance to the state 
The Deputy governor further spoke, “Now the INEC announced the date of the guber elections in Bayelsa for 2nd of Nov and when that date was announced, various interest groups raised an issue about the relevance of the day to Bayelsa state. 
“Bayelsa was created on October 1, 1996. Shortly after the celebration, the clergy gathered and dedicated the state to God on 2nd of November, 1996. 
“That day was subsequently not celebrated. Later when this government came, the issue of thanking God for all that he has done for the state came up again when the governor asked the clergy to suggest to him what he wants done. 
“The clergy prayed and remembered and some of  them that are here that were part of the initial dedication of the state to God on November 2nd 1996. 
“Reflecting the governor said Bayelsa needs to thank God on a yearly basis. The most significant day is Nov 2nd which he has already marked before. 
“This date was accepted to be a thanksgiving day. An executive bill was send to the House of Assembly to subsequently pass into law. For the past 7 years we have been having our thanksgiving day on the 2nd of Nov every year. 
“When the Commission said elections would be held on that day, the clergy met again and went to governor. Yes INEC has a mandate of fixing a date but it won’t be out of place for the state to plead with INEC to reconsider the date because of the  relevance of that date to the state. 
“Because of that, the requirement for the state to be thanking God, the governor went as far as building a 15000-seater ecumenical centre where we do our thanksgiving every year, and we don’t limit it to Bayelsa state; every year, prominent Christian leaders all over the world meet there . This has been the practice for the past 7 years. 

He stated that the thanksgiving is not limited to Yenagoa alone but every city in Bayelsa state take part as long as they were believers.

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