By Joshua Agene
The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party and former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Henry Seriake Dickson, has commended the electoral officers and security agencies for the impressive level of conduct and urged them to sustain their vigilance until a winner is returned at the end of the election.
Dickson, who voted in the company of his wife, Dr.Rachael Dickson, in his country home of Toru-Orua, said that the preliminary reports indicated an impressive turnout of voters.
He stressed that it was his expectation that the displayed level of professionalism was sustained to prevent people with dubious intent to distort the process.
He said: “As I voted this morning at my polling unit at Toru-Orua, I was glad to see that voter turnout was impressive and from available preliminary reports from other units and wards, there is indication of a massive and impressive turnout.
“I want to thank the officials of the electoral body for their professionalism and we hope and expect that this level of conduct is sustained to the very end culminating in a return.
“Every election is in stages. Voters will come out en masse, get accredited and vote and after that, other processes also continue up to the declaration.
“I thank the security agencies for their vigilance so far. Once again, I expect that this level of professionalism is sustained throughout the process because very often during collation, people try to do funny things and so on.”
He thanked the people of the senatorial district for the sustained support for him all through his years as a former member of the House of Reprewentatives and as governor for eight years.
Also, Bayelsa State Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, has applauded the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the measures taken so far to sanitise the conduct of elections in the country.
Ewhrudjakpo gave the commendation while speaking with newsmen shortly after casting his vote at about 8:50am in the Ubrogbo polling Unit Six of Sagbama Ward 4 in his hometown of Ofoni.
He noted that INEC’s Innovativeness in terms of easing the voting process and management of the result sheets would not only promote transparency but also restore the people’s confidence in the electoral body.
Ewhrudjakpo, who described the voting process in his community as smooth and peaceful, maintained that INEC’s achievements in Edo and Ondo states as well as the success of Saturday’s bye-elections across the country would improve its current rating.
He, however, condemned the skirmishes that took place in some parts of Sagbama LGA, particularly in Agbere and Agoro communities where electoral materials were allegedly burnt.
The deputy governor who accused the opposition of masterminding the unfortunate incident, called on the Bayelsa political class to play politics with decency and integrity.
He said: “The opposition knows full well that the PDP will win the two senatorial bye-elections in Bayelsa fair and square, that is why they are resorting to violence and other undemocratic measures to mar the process.”
“As usual, I want to thank INEC for the process, which as you can see is going on smoothly and peacefully in Ofoni here. Let me thank them especially for the innovativeness INEC has brought to bear on the process in terms of its result sheets.
“It is a major step to prevent people from hijacking genuine results or bringing in fake results. We are sure that with what INEC has done in Edo and Ondo States, we and every right thinking Nigerian will appreciate, if they also get today’s bye-elections right.
“But let me use this opportunity to condemn the level of skirmishes in some parts of Sagbama LGA, which we believe are orchestrated by the opposition because they don’t even have a candidate.
“The report I have is that the materials for Ward One in Agbere and Ward 11 in Agoro were burnt down. That is not democracy. Politicians should do away with such negative electoral practices.
“INEC and the security agencies should rise up to the occasion so that the electorate out there can exercise their franchise so that we don’t have any unnecessary run-off because that is what some people are planning.
“But I’m very sure that we are going to win convincingly because Bayelsa West is PDP. Bayelsans should remain calm because what the opposition is doing is like a man who does not have anything in a boat trying to cause a wave to capsise the boat.”
In an interview, the INEC’s Presiding Officer, Miss Adebayo Ifeoluwa, and domestic observer under the auspices of Mission for Education, Social and Health, Archbishop Alex Eseimokumoh, also attested to the peacefulness of the election in Ofoni community.
The All Progressives Congress candidate in Bayelsa Central, Mr Abel Ebifemowei, alias Osuwo 1, said he was confident of victory in the poll.
Ebifemowei, who voted in his polling unit in Amassomma, Southern Ijaw, said though Amasomma had produced a governor before, it had yet to produce a senator, stressing that believed that by the grace of God, he would emerge victorious.
He urged the electorate to be peaceful and exercise their franchise, saying that the community was in a great and esctactic mood, waiting for the announcement of the result which he believed the APC would emerge victorious.