Towards Peaceful LG Polls In Rivers

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Despite security reports alleging plots by the main opposition party in Rivers State, the All Progressives Congress (APC) to disrupt the local government polls scheduled for tomorrow, the State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC), from all indications, appears set to go on with the elections.
The election which holds in the 4,442 polling units in 392 wards of the 23 local government areas of the State is expected to usher in democratic governance at the third tier of government in the State.
In the last three years, the 23 councils in the State have been administered through a caretaker system following protracted legal tussles occasioned by the dissolution of the former council chairmen and councillors inaugurated by the immediate past State government.
Reassuring on the conduct of the election as scheduled, the Chairman of RSIEC, Justice Chukunenye Uriri (rtd), explained that virtually all logistics had been put in place for smooth and hitch-free elections in all the 23 councils of the State.
The RSIEC boss said the commission has held sufficient symposia and workshops for training and re-training of staff, including regular and ad-hoc personnel, while sensitisation and public enlightenment of the political class, parties and the electorate had also been vigorously pursued.
The Tide is, however, worried that in spite of these measures to entrench democracy at the grassroots, some disgruntled elements and die-hard critics of the Nyesom Wike administration are hell-bent on causing security breaches before, during and after the elections.
Happily enough, the state Chief Executive, Chief Nyesom Wike, in a statewide broadcast, affirmed that the government was aware of such threat from the opposition but assured that the security agencies have been placed on red-alert to deal with all security breaches emanating from mischief makers.
We, therefore, expect the security agencies to exhibit the highest sense of professionalism in the discharge of their statutory responsibilities before, during and after the elections without fear or favour.
Also heart-warming is the fact that 67 out of the 68 political parties are participating in the elections, leaving only the APC which is reportedly boycotting the election for inexplicable reasons.
We, therefore, implore voters to turn out en-masse on the election day and leverage on the opportunity provided by RSIEC to freely vote for candidates of their choice, irrespective of party, ethnic or religious affinities.
Similarly, the political class, especially the candidates and party stalwarts, must exhibit maturity and prevail on their supporters to avoid anything that can jeopardise or truncate the exercise.
The police, the Department of State Services (DSS), the military and other para-military agencies should also ensure neutrality and deep sense of responsibility while discharging their duties in tomorrow’s elections.
The Tide urges the youth to resist being used as thugs to subvert the electoral process. Tomorrow’s election, indeed, is a litmus test for Rivers State and Nigeria to prove that we have come of age in our democratic experiment.
It is only when all stakeholders in the electoral process play their part according to the rules of the game that a hitch-free, credible, transparent and generally acceptable election can be achieved.
We earnestly look forward towards entrenching democracy at the third tier of government in Rivers State.