By Anayo Okoli
UMUAHIA—AHEAD of the December 17, 2016 local government polls in Abia State, political parties interested in participating in the election have again rejected the downward review of fees being demanded by the State Election Commission, ABSIEC, accusing the commission of extorting them.
The commission had initially asked aspirants into the chairmanship seat to pay a non-refundable fess of N500, 000 for chairmanship and N200,000 for councillorship aspirants. This elicited an outcry from the parties, forcing the commission to reduce it to N400, 000 for chairmanship and N100, 000 for councillorship aspirants, respectively.
At a meeting, Monday, with the commission, the political parties still rejected the new fees, describing them as “outrageous.”
The fees are different from another N15, 000 the commission tagged administrative fee, which it said was to enable it provide relevant logistics for the election.
At the meeting, the parties told the chairman of the commission, Justice Igbozurike Akomas that the fees were on the high side for local government polls.
“We have earlier pegged the non-refundable fees for Chairmanship candidates at 500,000 and the councillorship at 200,000. But after wide consultation and considering the fact that times are hard, we came to the conclusion that we should review the fees downward to 400,000 and 100,000 for Chairmanship and Councillorship position respectively”, the chairman told the party leaders.
While rejecting the new fees, the State Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Chief Donatus Nwamkpa described them as extortion of aspirants, explaining that funds for the conduct of the election are already captured in this year budget.
“The Commission is not an internally generated revenue agency for the state government; this is a state government event. If it is not properly captured in the budget, the governor can submit a supplementary budget that will capture the local government election.
My party rejects this amount because it is unacceptable and its subjecting our aspirants to an untold hardship. The commission should sell their own form for N50, 000 and N20, 000 as it is applicable in other states”, APC chairman said.