The Anambra State Independent Electoral Commission holds elections for chairmanship and councillorship positions in the 21 local governments and 326 wards in the state today (Saturday).
It is the first time local government elections will be conducted in the state by a civilian government.
The last council poll was held in December 1998 under the last military government. The elections had been due since March 2002, when the tenure of the last local governments expired.
But the conduct of the elections had been frustrated by political machinations that came in the wake of the unstable political climate in the state.
Two previous boards of ANSIEC served out their tenures without conducting any election. The tenure of the present board is due to expire next year.
But as historic as the elections may be, opposition parties have withdrawn their participation, claiming lack of transparency by the electoral commission.
The parties under the umbrella of Inter-Party Committee accused ANSIEC of failing to publish the lists of the candidates of the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance. It also said ANSIEC refused to publish the names of ad hoc staff and make the voters’ register available to the political parties.
Meanwhile, vigilance groups operating in the 177 communities of Anambra state will be demobilised ahead of the elections.
The Chief Electoral Officer and acting chairman of ANSIEC, Mr. Sylvester Okonkwo, told journalists in Awka on Thursday that the move was to avoid situations where desperate politicians resort to using them to prosecute the local government election.
He stated that the commission had already applied for a combined security team that would involve the army, police, SSS, NSCDC, prisons and immigration personnel to ensure a smooth election.
He also pointed out that movement across the state would be restricted between 12 midnight on Friday, January 10 to 4pm Saturday, January 11, 2014.
Accreditation and voting, according to him, would start simultaneously by 8am on election day. This, he stated, was aimed at encouraging the elderly, who may not have the strength to go through the rigours of going for accreditation first and returning later for voting after some hours.
Okonkwo said that his commission had been fully mobilised to conduct a free, fair and credible election that would be the pride of Anambra State and debunked the allegation, especially by the Labour Party that the results of the election would be doctored to suit the ruling party in the state.
He noted with excitement that his commission had gotten a clean copy of the voters’ register from INEC which he said would assist greatly even as he revealed that those that had lost their voter’s card would be allowed to vote once they can remember their numbers on the register.
This, he said, was applicable to the victims of the flood disasters that happened in 2012.
Content Credit: PUNCH