Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
There is groundswell of opposition from political parties and pressure groups against the Bayelsa Independent Electoral Commission (BYSIEC); ahead of the August 10 local council election in the state.
Commission Chairman, Dr. Bertola Perekeme, had recently resigned in controversial circumstances, citing threats to his life and that of his immediate family; a claim opposition parties punctured and challenged security agencies to unravel those behind the threat.
Governor Seriake Dickson had accepted Perekeme’s resignation and immediately nominated Ball Oyarede, former member representing Ekeremor Constituency 1, in the House of Assembly as replacement.
However, Oyarede’s nomination and screening, shortly before the end of the Fifth Assembly, drew the ire of 76 opposition political parties in the state, with a threat to boycott the elections if Oyarede is not replaced; to guarantee the credibility of the election.
The political parties, under the aegis of Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), urged Dickson not to inaugurate Oyarede as the Commission’s chairman, so as to provide a level-playing field for all the political parties.
IPAC Chairman, Eneyi Zidoughan, who directed all political parties to withdraw from the elections if the governors goes ahead to inaugurate Oyarede, said the latter is a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) card-carrying member that cannot guarantee a free, fair and credible election.
“Our demand is simple. We are asking the governor to remove Oyarede, who is a PDP card-carrying member and replace him with a non-PDP member, preferably somebody from the academia. And, we are giving the governor a three-day ultimatum to meet this demand,” he said.
Before the ultimatum, a coalition of pressure groups, including Ijaw Elders Forum, Ijaw Professionals Association, Ijaw Nation Forum, Ijaw Women Connect and Embasara Foundation had raised concerns over the elections.
They urged the state government to address “the misgivings being expressed against the appointment of Oyarede as BSIEC new chairman based on allegations that he is a PDP member in the state.
Oyarede, in his reaction, said he resigned from PDP on May 30, at his ward, two days before his nomination by Dickson.
PDP Chairman, Ward two in Ekeremor Local Government Area, Solomon Avenven, corroborated Oyarede’s claims.