Peeved by the imposition of candidates in the concluded primaries in Bayelsa State, a non-partisan group, G24 Embasara Foundation, has raised an alarm over the practice, particularly as most candidates were allegedly forced on the people by godfathers.
The practice, according to them, would continue to weaken democracy, as the choice of the people is often subverted to allow for mediocrity.
Contained in a statement by Co-conveners, Iniruo Wills and Geoffrey Kwale, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Denzel Kentebe and Lead, Media Committee, Ayakeme Whiskey the group said the alleged imposition led to the exclusion of other aspirants, thus depriving Bayelsa people the benefit of a robust engagement.
The foundation frowned on indiscriminate, lawless and unfair practice where during the conduct of party primaries by some political parties, delegates of well-favoured aspirants were reportedly given preferential treatment over and above other delegates, thus breeding distrust, rancour and acrimony among hitherto loyal party men and women.
The group said, “We note that the gale of defection sweeping across the two dominant parties in the state lately is perhaps not unconnected with the growing number of disgruntled party faithful who have been denied their legitimate right to participate in primaries free from manipulation, imposition, harassment and intimidation.
“It is particularly irksome that whereas political parties raked in hundreds of millions of naira from aspirants, some of whom perhaps had to sell personal effects to be able to purchase the exorbitant nomination and intent forms, the parties on their part, failed to provide the required level-playing field to test their popularity.
“Since the Independent National Electoral Commission is by law empowered to supervise party primaries and ensure strict compliance with approved prudential guidelines and extant laws, the commission must share in the blame and take responsibility for ensuring that future primaries are well monitored.”
The foundation noted that as the political tempo heightened, it was calling on the Bayelsa State Government and the Bayelsa State Police Command to swing into action and play the role of an impartial arbiter by creating the enabling environment for the smooth conduct of election that would not only be credible, but free and fair.
It noted that with the open rascality, and non-adherence to the rule of law during the primaries, the foundation of the 2019 elections was already greatly weakened.
The group added, “We are equally shocked at the fewer number of female aspirants offering themselves for elective offices going by the INEC list even when nomination forms were offered freely to female contenders.
“The global trend is that more and more women are beginning to take active interest in political leadership and Bayelsa cannot afford to be an exception.
“We note that economic prosperity and sustainable development of the state can only come about when the right candidates, not the right parties, are voted into power.
“We strongly advocate that emergent political leaders must commit to abide by a code of good governance stipulating minimum thresholds of service delivery and quality assurance.
“Those political gladiators whose stock in trade is to hold the political economy and convert the commonwealth to their private estate should be ready for disgrace as they would be shown the way out.
To this end, the Group urged the youths to be wary of politicians out there bent on using them as political thugs and abandon them when they get into power.
By: Austin Pade, Yenagoa