Mixed reactions greet poll shift in Bayelsa

Posted by News Express | 16 February 2019 | 866 times

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Residents and stakeholders in Bayelsa have expressed divergent views over the one week shift in elections earlier slated for Feb. 16 and March 2, by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)

James Suowari, a voter, who learnt of the postponement at the polling centre in Yenagoa, said that the shift had widespread economic implications, adding that it was both surprising and disappointing.

“This postponement is a surprise to me, I woke up this morning and took my voter card to the where I want to exercise my franchise, only to be told of the shift, the implications are wide and the cost is huge and unimaginable.

“I am seriously worried that an election which we have four years to prepare for caught INEC unawares,” Suowari said.

Juliet Evin, an adhoc staff of INEC deployed to Okordia-Zarama axis, said in a telephone chat that they were already receiving electoral materials for movement to the RAC centre when information filtered in.

“We were already sorting materials when someone overheard the Electoral Officer for Yenagoa in a telephone conversation with someone and shortly afterwards we were told to return the materials and leave.

“Our concern now is if we shall be paid as we slept over and have already done some work when the directive came,” Evin said.

A commercial tricycle operator who spoke at about 8:00 a.m. on Saturday while conveying passengers, said that he was not aware of the shift in election date and was conducting his business because there is no security checkpoints.

Shops remained closed while filling stations that opened for early operation remained open for business.

Mrs Eme Offiong, a journalist with the Voice of Nigeria deployed to cover the elections in Bayelsa, said that she got a call in the early hours of the day and was told to monitor the television for update.

“It was a surprise and disappointment after the hectic travel from my station in Calabar and just a few hours to the elections, if it was shifted two or three days earlier, I would have been spared the burden associated with travels, it means I will have to go back and return again.

“I am shocked, devastated, but will try and do some stories on the pulse of the people on the streets,” Offiong said.

Mr. Roland Kiente, a voter in Peremabiri, coastal settlement in Southern Ijaw area of Bayelsa, said in a telephone interview that they monitored the shift of date live on television.

“We heard the announcement on television and we have informed our people accordingly, the community is calm as we speak and unlike before, incidents like this will take a long time to reach remote places like ours, but thanks to the wide penetration of internet.

“On the implications, a lot of cost is involved, I travelled from Yenagoa to Peremabiri and it is a three hour boat ride. A lot of people have travelled for this purpose,” Offiong said.

Some residents in Yenagoa were seen in small groups discussing the development at various locations, while vehicular movement was going on with commercial tricycle operators engaged in their activities.

The INEC Office in Yenagoa had a heavy presence of armed policemen placed on standby.

Source: News Express

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