Ahead of a crucial July 14 governorship polls, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Attahiru Jega, on Wednesday announced a mediation plan for feuding political parties for the Edo state seat.
Mr. Jega holds that it is pertinent to reduce the tension in the state that has recorded at least one murder case.
According to him, the commission is “concerned” about the unfolding events in Edo state. He said the crises are capable of undermining the polls and therefore announced a meeting between the commission and the major parties for the elections. The meeting is scheduled for Friday, and will address the concerns of the parties, the chairman said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The Commission is deeply concerned about unfolding events in Edo State which are capable of overheating the polity and posing a fundamental threat to the integrity of the impending Governorship election and indeed the stability of our democracy,” Mr. Jega said.
Since the killing of incumbent governor Adams Oshiomole’s aide, Olaitan Oyerinde, early May, the fireworks between Mr. Oshiomole’s party, the Action Congress of Nigeria(ACN) and the People’s Democratic Party(PDP), seems to be abating after both sides accused each of ordering the killing.
But behind the scenes, the tensions that have coloured the awaited polls, one of the most bitterly and fiercely fought for, have continued to build up and much of the action has now targeted the electoral body, INEC.
The commission’s chairperson said on Wednesday, that it has continued to receive petitions containing allegations and counter allegations directed at the political parties and candidates. He said that there were also complaints as regards INEC’s preparations for the elections.
“While such concerns and anxiety are to be expected in the build-up to an election, it is important that matters do not degenerate as to threaten the fair conduct of the polls.”
The commission said it plans to “avert further deterioration of the situation” and expects the chairman and secretaries of all the parties contesting the elections to be at the meeting.
The parties include: Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Labour Party (LP), National Conscience Party (NCP), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Social Democratic Mega Party (SDMP).