Kwara LG poll: politicians recruit OPC, Niger Delta militants as adhoc staff

Date: 2017-11-10

Kwara state Independent Electoral Commission (KWASIEC) has said that leadership and chairmanship candidates of political parties in the forthcoming local government elections in the state will sign undertaking on violence free election.

No fewer than 11 political parties will participate in the November 18 local government election. Speaking with leadership of the state chapter of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Joint Campus Committee, who were on a courtesy visit to the commission's headquarters, Ilorin on Thursday, the KWASIEC chairman, Alhaji Uthman Ajidagba, alleged that some politicians had invited members of the Odu'a Peoples Congress (OPC) and Niger Delta militants to obtain the commission's forms for ad-hoc staff recruitment for the election.

He stated that the multiple innovations adopted by the electoral body in the process of conducting the exercise discovered clandestine plans by some politicians to hamper smooth conduct of the election.

The KWASIEC boss, however, said the state Commissioner of Police, Mr Lawan Ado, would witness the signing of the undertaking as a way of extracting the commitment of political parties and candidates to violent-free election.

Ajidagba dismissed the allegation that he was acting the script of the government on the steps taken so far on the conduct of the election, declaring that the commission under his chairmanship had not violated any electoral law.

He specifically described as tissue of lies the allegation that KWASIEC deliberately excluded some candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the election due to late payment prescribed election fees and submission of nomination forms

He noted that members of the party were out to mislead the public on the activities of the commission through their utterances but vowed that he would neither be intimidated nor bothered on their antics.

Ajidagba restated the commitment of KWASIEC to make the forthcoming local government election in the state free, fair and credible, adding that the electoral body would provide a level playing ground for all political parties and candidates in the election.

Ajidagba added that the commission had remained open and transparent in the process of the election by making available electoral guidelines to all parties involved.

The KWASIEC also disclosed that the commission had been organizing different fora to sensitize the electorate on the readiness and way the electoral body would conduct the election.

He said the electoral commission had met with security agencies on the need to ensure peaceful election and warned students and youths not to allow politicians to recruit them as thugs to disrupt the election, pointing out that they must remain focused as future leaders.

"We have gone round the 16 local government areas to enlighten people on the need to play by the rule of game. We have been hearing so many things on Radio with PDP featuring. Look at Nigerian politicians, instead of them to tell the people what they want to do if they win the election, they continue shouting the name of Ajidagba.

"I'm enjoying it; it is strengthening me, It gives me joy, it gives me fame, it gives me popularity and it gives me confidence. I don't bother, because I have two or three arsenals at my disposal. One, I have the law. I'm walking in tandem with the dictates of the law. Secondly, prayers. With all those, I don't mind.

"So, we have been organizing fora in which we are making ourselves better understood, in which we are explaining things to people. But you can trust Nigerian politicians, they will come here and sit, after the gathering, we hug, we exchange banters and take photographs, only to go back and tell their followers different things entirely. That is Nigerian politicians for you. That is what we have been doing.

"We also held a meeting with security agencies under the name. Next week, what we are going to do is that, we will invite leadership of political parties and chairmanship candidates to come and sign undertaking that there will be no violence. The Commissioner of Police has assured us that he would be here.

"My leadership has been introducing so many innovations. For example, the ad-hoc staff we engaged, we said let them come and obtain forms. We don't want hand written something because 'A' can write on behalf of 'B'. Let them come with their bank accounts, photographs and so on.

"But you will not believe, even that one, there was sabotage. Politicians went to the extend of inviting the OPC and Niger Delta people to come and take forms. We know what to do about those things. After that one, we said come and train, and the first category of people to train were the facilitators because they are also to train others. This commission under my leadership cooperated with International Federation for Electoral System (IFES) based in Washington, United States of America.

"We involved them to organize training for our facilitators, and after that one, then, they came back home to do the training. We have completed training now. By Saturday or thereabouts, the list will be out", Ajidagba said.

Earlier, the chairman, state chapter of NANS, Abdulqadir Usman Aliyu, expressed confidence in the ability of Kwara State Independent Election Commission to be free and fair in the conduct of November 18, 2017 local government election in the state.

He expressed satisfaction with the arrangement put in place by the commission to ensure credible election, adding that the association was particularly impressed with the transparency with which the commission has been conducting the pre-election issues.

Aliyu commended the KWASIEC chairman for his readiness to provide a level playing ground for political parties and their candidates and assured that the leadership of NANS would support the commission to achieve all round success in the election.

He said, "The purpose of this visit is an advocacy visit, so that Nigerian students' eyes are opened to many things. We want to say that Nigerian students are so proud of you and your leadership for the innovations that you have brought up to ensure free, fair and credible election in Kwara State.

"It is only somebody that has cockroaches in his own cupboard that would say people should not see me, but you have given us opportunity to come and see you because you are transparent and reliable.

"I want to quickly chip in something, and that fact is that whatever you do today, posterity will judge. You are a leader today, definitely, you must have a good follower, and that was actually made you to be a leader. There are thousands of you outside there, but they don't have the opportunity that you have today, just because you have been identified, tested and I must say that you are trusted.

"In order not to bore you with stories, the entire Nigerian students from all levels want to assure you of our all time support to ensure that your own success is our success, your own success is the success of Kwara State, and we want other states to come and emulate from your leadership qualities".

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