Opinion

COMMUNIQUÉ ISSUED BY THE COALITION OF RIVERS STATE INDEPENDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSION (RSIEC) DULY ACCREDITED OBSERVER GROUPS FOR THE RIVERS STATE LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTION HELD ON THE 17TH APRIL, 2021.

COMMUNIQUÉ ISSUED BY THE COALITION OF RIVERS STATE INDEPENDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSION (RSIEC) DULY ACCREDITED OBSERVER GROUPS FOR THE RIVERS STATE LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTION HELD ON THE 17TH APRIL, 2021.
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Preambles:-
We the RSIEC duly accredited Civil Society, Non-Governmental, Faith Based and Community Based Organizations that observed the April 17th, 2021 Local Government Elections in Rivers State, having carefully observed the said election, wish to issue this state as our position concerning the election as observed.

1. Voting Materials/commencement:
Our Team observed that all election materials including the Result Sheets, Ballot Papers and even the ink pads were carefully provided in all the polling units, resulting to timely commencement of the election as scheduled compared to previous Local Government elections in the State.
2. Voters Turnout:
While the turnout of voters was impressive in the urban and city centres, the turnout was relatively low in most of the poling units in the rural areas.
There was an impressive turnout of women and the elders for the election especially in rural areas.
3. Security Presence:
We observed with satisfaction the visible presence of various security agents in all the polling units visited. This to a large extent helped in ensuring peaceful election environment. The Security Agents, especially the men of the Nigeria Police showed professionalism in their conduct. The security networking among the various security agents was also noted.

Summary Observation:
 The Rivers State Local Government Elections actually took place as scheduled on the 17th of April, 2021 in all the Local Government Areas of the State.
 The Election was calm, peaceful, orderly and of course transparent without any interference or complain by/from any quarter.
 The election was well contested by several political parties and all the political parties received a level playing ground by RSIEC and a contested vote.
 Though some political parties did not field candidates while some announced a boycott from the election, RSIEC was still very careful and printed a ballot paper that accommodated all the eighteen recognized political parties in Nigeria and so many of them received an encouraging vote.
 We observed that RSIEC was very careful to make available all the election materials both sensitive and non-sensitive to all polling units in good time which led to timely commencement of the elections as scheduled.
 We observed that there was high turnout of voters in urban centers while relative low turnout was seen in remotely rural areas due to inadequate voter sensitization and mobilization in such areas.
 We also observed that the restriction of vehicular movement was adequately enforced by the various Security Agents.

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Recommendation:
Following the above observation and to improve on our electoral process, we wish to recommend the following;
a) The State Government and the Election Management Body should engage committed Civil Society groups on an intensive civic voter education, sensitization and mobilization ahead of every election. This will go a long in encouraging and improving voter participation in elections.
b) The political parties should also engage in civic voter mobilization as a proactive way of campaign.
c) Priority should be given to the difficult terrains and very far LGAs, Communities, etc in the State in terms of distribution of election materials to ensure quick and timely commencement of election in such areas.
d) Political parties should ensure a wide spread presence of their party agents in all the polling unities for effective party representation during elections.

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We the civil society family see Local Government Elections as the mother of all elections and the bedrock of democratic principles and rule of law in terms of citizens/grassroots participation in governance, we therefore recommend a sanction preferably a ban for up to five years from participating in any elections in the country to any political parties that intentionally boycott local government elections with the aim of causing political tension and disrupting electoral process.

Commendation:
1. Our team commends the Election Management Body (River State Independent Electoral Commission) for its wonderful preparation in providing all the needed logistics and materials on time which actually encouraged the success of the election.
2. The Security Agents particularly the Nigeria Police Rivers State Command are hereby applauded for providing a secured and peaceful environment for the election.
3. We appreciate the people of Rivers State for their proper conduct during and after the election, especially for showing maturity and putting away the stings of violence.

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Conclusion:
We conclude by saying that the April 17th 2021Rivers State Local Government Elections actually took place as scheduled under a conducive and peaceful atmosphere. The election was very peaceful across the entire LGAs visited by our teams.
We therefore adjudge it to have met the accepted standards in line with the State Electoral Laws. Hence the result should be accepted by all the candidates and political parties as a true reflection of the wishes and decisions of the electorates.

Finally, while we commend Rivers State Government for remaining steadfast in conducting a local government election in the State as at when due, we advice that the Government should not interfere in the administration of the Constitutionally elected Chairmen and Councilors so that the grassroots can directly benefit from the dividend of democracy and good governance in the State.

Thank you and God bless.

Comrade Kalu Victor
Team Leader;
For the Coalition.

 


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