Posted by Boniface Okoro, Umuahia | 7 October 2016 | 2,560 times
Elections into Local Government Councils in Abia State slated for December 17, 2016 is facing a threat of postponement as the state chapter of Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), has rejected the date for the polls.
Rising from a meeting in Umuahia Wednesday, IPAC demanded that the Abia State Independent Electoral Commission (ABSIEC) should shift the poll to 2017, accusing the umpire of unilaterally fixing the December 17 date.
The group claims that the date was too sudden and would not allow the parties adequate time to prepare for the exercise.
News Express gathered that during its meeting of September 6, 2016, the Abia State Executive Council resolved that council polls be held in the state and directed ABSIEC to organise the exercise.
Shortly afterwards, ABSIEC announced that the polls to elect 292 councillors and 17 Local Government chairmen would hold on December 17 while any run-offs would be concluded on December 24.
The umpire followed up the announcement of the date with a stakeholders meeting where majority of the political parties in the state did not favour the date and requested for the poll to be shifted forward because of the Christmas festivity and to, as well, allow them time to prepare well but the commission did not budge.
Only last week, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, at a media briefing by its Chairman, Chief Johnson Onuigbo, announced that it was ready for the polls. The party insisted that shifting the council polls as was being canvassed by the opposition was unreasonable as no time would be adequate for preparation for such an exercise.
In what may be seen as a response to the PDP’s stance, IPAC has come out to say that if ABSIEC wants all the parties to participate in the polls, it should shift the date forward.
Chairman of IPAC, Chief Emeka Okafor of the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) told newsmen after the group’s meeting that they rejected the date fixed by the electoral body.
“As the umbrella body of all political parties in the state, we have just risen from a meeting today, (Wednesday) and we reject the date fixed by the State Electoral Commission for the conduct of elections into the 292 councillorship and 17 Chairmanship positions in the state.”
“ABSIEC’s date is impromptu; the time frame is not enough. As a state, we conducted the last Local Government election eight years ago and, as political parties, we are not prepared. Three months are not enough for parties to prepare for the elections. Moreover, stakeholders in the state were not consulted by the commission before it decided on the date,’’ Okafor said.
He said the group called on ABSIEC to reschedule the council elections to enable all political parties to participate.
IPAC, he added, therefore, urged ABSIEC to do the right thing by carrying all political parties along by giving them proper information at the right time.
As at the time of filing this report, it could not be confirmed if PDP was part of the IPAC meeting, just as officials of ABSIEC could not be reached for comments.