The Independent National Electoral Commission on Thursday said it had always been ready to conclude the suspended re-run parliamentary elections in Rivers, but subject to conducive environment for the exercise.
The Deputy Director of Voter Education and Publicity in the commission, Mr. Nick Dazang, spoke in reaction to the December 10 deadline given to the commission that the National Assembly on Wednesday to conduct the outstanding polls in Rivers.
The Senate had threatened to suspend plenary if INEC failed to meet the deadline.
Dazang said that it was unfortunate that in spite of the commission’s readiness for the elections, some stakeholders in the state were uncooperative, not helping to create peaceful environment needed for conduct of the exercise. He said that as a sign of good faith, INEC had engaged stakeholders in several meetings in Abuja and in the state on the issue.
He said, “In fact, at a point we articulated a road map of activities that would climax with the National and State Assembly elections in the state.
“Sadly, on the eve of the proposed schedule for the conduct of the elections in that state, our office in one of the local government areas of the state was razed down.
“In spite of this, we have remained resolute in our determination and have continued to engage with stakeholders.
“Our determination is further underscored by the fact that recently, the commission directed all relevant departments to submit their inputs for the Rivers National and State Assembly elections.”
The deputy director said that INEC’s initial plan was to conclude all suspended elections before the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo state in September and November, respectively.
He said, “This was however truncated by the spate of violence particularly in Rivers and the inflammatory rhetoric of some stakeholders.”
He, however, assured that with the ultimatum by the lawmakers, INEC would meet with the stakeholders to review the situation and agree on a date.
The re-run elections in the state ordered by the judiciary and scheduled for March 19, 2016 was cancelled in parts of the state due to high level of violence that characterised the exercise.
The commission fixed July 31 to conclude the elections, but was again forced to postpone the exercise following reports of violence ahead of the polls.
It, therefore, resolved that it would return to the state to conclude the elections only when the state government and all stakeholders in the state gave undertaking of adequate security during the period the exercise would be conducted.
Dazing said that neither the Rivers Government nor the stakeholders had given the undertaking.