By Harris Emanuel, Uyo
Akwa Ibom State Independent Electoral Commission (AKISIEC), has stated that nine political parties would contest the October 31 local government polls in the state.
Its Chairman, Elder Aniedi-Abasi Ikoiwak, gave the confirmation at a training of trainers on polling and counting procedures by AKISIEC staff in Uyo. According to him, the duty of the Commission is to accept candidates submitted by political parties and not to determine who represents the party.
“The electoral law does not actually allow the commission to determine the qualifications of a candidate”, he said.
Declaring the workshop open, the Chairman commended The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) for partnering with the commission to train staff ahead of the election.
He said that the involvement of IFES underscores the importance of the forthcoming elections and other elections in the state.
He urged staff to take the workshop serious so that they will be able to train Adhoc staff for credible elections even as assured that the commission will conduct a free and fair election.
For his part, Representative of IFES, Mr Simon Fanto said the training will expose the workers to techniques to conduct, supervise and manage any crises during the elections and thanked the Commission for accepting to partner with the organization.
But a frontline opposition party, All Progressives Congress (APC), has opted out of the race, as the electoral body would not be fair in the conduct of the polls being attached to the apron string of the governor and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party in the state.
Acting Chairman, Dr Ita Udosen, stated this while briefing stakeholders, saying, “After due and wide consultation with our party leaders, elders and stakeholder, the State Executive Council met and directed that the party should no longer participate in the LG elections fixed for Saturday, October 31, 2020, by Akwa Ibom State Independent Electoral Commission because we realize that AKISIEC lacks the independence, credibility, sense of fairness and even the capacity to conduct credible elections.
“Indeed, AKISIEC is an appendage of the governor’s office and a tool in the hands of People’s Democratic Party.”
Udosen added that the SEC has directed the party to challenge the ‘unilateral and abuse’ of the process in the creation of the new 39 electoral wards in the state by the state government.
He, however, commended some members of the party from North-West Senatorial District who sued AKISIEC in the state High Court over the legality of the 39 new electoral ward and asking the Court to stop the electoral umpire from conducting elections into the new wards.