BY Peter Duru
MAKURDI—Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State has assured that the state government would not meddle with the conduct of the forthcoming local government elections in the state.
Speaking in Makurdi at a stakeholders’ conference organised by the Benue State Independent Electoral Commission, BSIEC, yesterday, Suswam urged the electoral body to provide a level playing field for all contestants at the polls.
He assured that the state government would avail BSIEC all necessary support to ensure that the process turned out a huge success.
However, Benue State Chairman of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, CNPP, Mr. Baba Agan, in his speech, expressed reservations on the sincerity of the state government to ensure the conduct of free, fair and credible elections in the state.
Agan expressed fear that some members of BSIEC may be card-carrying members of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, stressing that the opposition has lost confidence in the entire body.
He said: “We do not have any confidence in this body to conduct any free and fair election. This is the first step to failure.”
Agan further questioned the high fees of N2.5 million and N500,000.00 fixed for payments by BSIEC for chairmanship and councillorship aspirants, respectively, adding that the body failed in law by not giving political parties three months requisite notice for release of the guidelines and time-table for the election.
In his submission, a chieftain of Action Congress of Nigeria, can, Mr. Benson Abounu, noted that in past elections, the opposition party had been intimidated by the ruling PDP in connivance with the electoral, contending that it would not be different this time.
He said: “In fact, we do not expect any level playing field. Rigging usually starts with them.” The local government elections in the state have been scheduled for November.