The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State has described the planned conduct of council elections in 22 local government areas in the state as illegal, provocative and a waste of resources.
The Chairman of the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC), Prof. Augustine Ahiauzu, had on Monday, April 20, 2015 announced that council polls would hold in 22 out of the 23 local government areas of the state on Thursday, May 23, 2015.
Reacting to the announcement, the PDP said it was distancing itself from the elections.
A statement issued by the media aide to the state PDP Chairman, Mr. Jerry Needam, said: “The PDP unequivocally rejects and dissociates itself from such arrangement by the Amaechi-controlled Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission under Prof. Augustine Ahiazu. Accepting to organise such illegitimate and doubtful exercise at the 11th hour of the termination of the APC-led government in the State does not present the chairman and his commission as responsible, honourable and unbiased.
“In as much as the party believes that officials of RSIEC are abreast with the provisions of the electoral law and guidelines, particularly as it relates to the conduct of the local government polls, we still wish to bring to their attention the section that stipulates 90 days’ notice to the political parties before the conduct of any election.”
The party said the announcement was already generating anxiety, suspicion and distrust among the people, adding that it showed that the state was not ready for election now.
The statement said: “What the governor ought to be doing now is to constitute May 29 transition committee and to ask for submission of handover notes from his aides and executive council members as was being done at the centre by President Goodluck Jonathan.
“Our analysis of this development points to the fact that hurrying to conduct election before the end of Amaechi’s tenure (about four weeks) is done simply to justify the desires of the out-going governor, including causing political crisis in the state for the incoming governor to contend with.
“The PDP is surprised by such sudden realisation to hold this exercise, wondering why Amaechi did not give attention to it long before now when he had the opportunity and time since the tenure of the elected chairmen and councillors elapsed over a year ago.
“Amaechi and the APC leadership should explain to Rivers people their genuine motive for holding local government polls now other than using it as means of siphoning State resources, fomenting crisis in the State and putting in known elements at the various local government areas that will act as a cog in the wheel of the laudable development programmes to be initiated by the incoming government in the state.
“We’re also aware that Amaechi has concluded plans to use his rubber stamp members of the non-functioning House of Assembly to amend the laws on conduct of local government areas elections midway to enable him continue with the exercise having realised the legal lacuna. This is another way of destroying the fortune and democratic system, as well as perverting justice in the state by a desperate Amaechi.”
The party called on the people of the state to ignore the announcement by RSIEC calling for their participation in the proposed election, saying such action by Amaechi a waste of time and Rivers money.
Last year the Rivers State Governor, Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, on May 31, 2014, dissolved 21 out of the 23 local government councils in the state. He said the tenure of the council officers expired Friday, May 30, 2014.
Degema and Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni local Government councils were not affected because elections were recently conducted into the two councils.
Since then, the councils have been run by caretaker committees appointed by the governor.