Samuel Oyadongha – Yenagoa
The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has dismissed as baseless and unfounded the allegations leveled against the Bayelsa State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Pastor Monday Udoh Tom by the People’s Democratic Party Campaign Organisation.
The PDP had on Monday called for the redeployment of the INEC REC accusing him of colluding with the All Progressive Congress (APC) to rig the November 16 governorship election.
It also alleged that the APC contracted the Deputy Vice-Chancellor òf the Federal University, Otuoke, to supply the APC members as SPOs to subvert the election.
But INEC head of voter education and publicity, Mr. Wilfred Ifogha yesterday in a local radio programme monitored in Yenagoa debunked the allegation saying the recruitment policy of the commission does not require university students as supervising presiding officers (SPOs) and no deputy vice-chancellor was contracted to help the commission recruit SPOs.
“The Supervising Presiding Officers (SPOs) are recruited or drawn from federal ministries domiciled here in Bayelsa. For those who will take the pain to see the list that has been pasted you will find out that those that were trained as SPOs were drawn from the various federal ministries while for the collation officers, that one comes from the federal higher institutions and has nothing to do with the INEC office here in Bayelsa.
“It is from the National headquarters that the determination of where to pick those to be recruited as collation officers and returning officers will be drawn. Then for the presiding officers, of course, their training is ongoing. They are drawn from serving corps members here in Bayelsa State, ex corps members who served right from 2015 -2019 and other federal civil servants that fall within the range of grade-level 7-9 and 10,” he said.
The spokesman of the commission assured Bayelsans that INEC will only carry out the duty of conducting the elections in accordance with the provisions of the constitution and the electoral act.
He, therefore, advised politicians to concentrate on issue-based campaigns and desist from feeding the public with wrong information, reassuring them of a level playing field for all parties to participate in the election
“There are 45 parties participating in the election and INEC is not favouring anyone. We have no favourite and what we want to say here is this, ours is the electoral process, how it is being carried out, how everyone plays their role. It is about all-inclusiveness.
“As far as INEC is concerned, there is no major party because on the ballot paper is the same space that the logo of party A will have with party B, C just like that. So there is no extra space for any party on the ballot paper and that is how we look at them.
“So, all I expect now is to actually focus on their campaign and issues-based campaign and not a campaign of calumny against each other and not to talk about casting aspersions on the person of the REC who has actually made great effort to ensure there is the enabling field for all to participate,” he said.