Ahead of the scheduled February 11 2017 local government elections in Taraba State, leadership of political parties, especially the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the rival All Progressives Congress (APC) are leaving no stone unturned to gain upper hands in the exercise.
At present, over 29 registered parties in the state have signified interest to participate in the polls but from The Guardian findings, only the APC and PDP appeared to be fully prepared as the presence of the other parties are nothing to reckon with.
Meanwhile, the APC chairman in the state, Alhaji Hassan Jika Ardo, who expressed confidence his party will triumph in the election, said, “All that is require of the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) is to provide a level playing ground for all participants in the election.
Ardo, who has persistently accused the state government of deliberately making use of the services of Care Taker Chairmen (CTC) to siphon funds meant for the development of the grassroots, believed that the election would go a long way to minimise government’s incessant infiltration into councils account.
Besides he is optimistic that the SIEC chairman, Dr. Philip Duwe, would not take side with any of the parties. Although, the Commission’s headship has severally been accused of being a card-carrying member of the PDP, the APC stressed the need for the National Assembly to “come up with a process that will give credit to the appointment of SIEC members. This has become necessary to the growth of democracy in this country.”
Ardo also said there is need for government at both the state and the national levels to look inward and appoint retired Justices in the states as SIEC chairmen.
Buttressing his argument, the APC chairman noted that the 1999 Constitution does not allow the appointment of Care Take Chairmen (CTC), alleging: “such devise by state governments was deliberately designed by the governors to break into local governments coffers.”
Although, it was being rumoured that the ruling party has contrived means of rigging the polls, the APC said it would not be deter by such insinuations.
According to Ardo, “Our party has prepared far ahead and there can be no amount of rigging that would affect us. Democracy is about the people.”
He however called on the security agents not to allow itself to be used as instrument against the wishes of the electorate during the election.
The PDP on its part is also not taking chances ahead of the election despite being in control of government.
The party’s chairman, Victor Bala Kona informed The Guardian that a committee assigned with the responsibilities of screening the aspirants seeking for either chairmanship or counsellorship positions in the election on the platform of the PDP has been inaugurated.
According to him, “The 10-man screening committee is currently charged to find out if the aspirants are authentic members of the PDP. We are also going to tread all legitimate paths to ensue that credible candidates emerged in the primaries preceding the elections.
Overwhelmed that after several years, the state government has finally agreed to do away with the services of CTC, the leadership of the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) said it is a welcomed development.
However, IPAC said it was not comfortable with the amount being charged by SIEC for the election.
The body wondered why SIEC should be compelling aspirants seeking for counselor’s position to pay the sum of N50, 000 and chairmen N100, 000.
According to the IPAC Secretary, Mr. Charles Buki, “Such decision is totally unacceptable to us.”
On his part, the SIEC boss said the Commission has mapped out relevant strategies to provide level playground for all the participating parties.
According to him, “Apart from updating our voters register, the commission has also put in place measures that would avert the swapping of voters register from one local government to another.”
In spite of speculations that he is a card-carrying member of the ruling PDP, Duwe assured the parties that the commission would do justice.