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3O election monitoring groups arrive Ebonyi for Saturday’s LG polls

Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi State

Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State(centre), Secretary to the State Government, Benard Odoh (left) and Commissioner for Justice, Augustine Nwankwegu with newly-sworn in members of the Appeal Commission on Revenue Matters at the Government House in Abakaliki on Wednesday.
Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State(centre), Secretary to the State Government, Benard Odoh(left) and Commissioner for Justice, Augustine Nwankwegu with seven newly-sworn in traditional rulers at the Government House in Abakaliki on Wednesday.

A coalition of  30 election monitoring groups has arrived in Abakaliki  ahead of Saturday, April 22 council elections in Ebonyi State.

 The  Kalu Victor-led  coalition, at a news conference at the Women Development Centre in Abakaliki on Thursday,said its members were in the state to ensure that fair playing field was provided for all poitical parties taking part in the elections.

Victor, who spoke for the groups, however   commended Governor  David   Umahi for considering it necessary to conduct the council elections  despite economic recession in  the country.
He said their observation across  the country showed that most   governors were using the economic hardship in the country  as an excuse not to conduct   elections in their states.
The group, in a statement made available to journalists ,  also commended Umahi for  offering 50 per cent of the cost of intent forms to  people in opposition parties interested in vying for the elections .
The statement read in part,” We want to commend the Executive governor of Ebonyi for considering it necessary to conduct a local government election in the state as at when due not minding the economic hardship which other states are using as an excuse.
“We therefore advise  that the government should not interfere in the administration of the council chairmen and councillors so that the grassroots can directly benefit from the dividend of democracy and good governance in Ebonyi State.
“Equally, we commend Governor Umahi in a very special way for openly encouraging political parties to freely participate in the election without fear or bias,especially for supporting political parties in the state financially across the board to enable them participate in the election. This kind of gesture  never happened in the history of Nigeria.”
The civil society group pleaded with the stakeholders in the state to join hands with the Ebonyi State Independent Electoral Commission   in ensuring credible elections in the state,and warned against negative utterances and criticism that could cause violence.

Meanwhile,   Governor   Umahi, has charged political appointees to strengthen their relationship with the electorate.

Umahi, while swearing in caretaker committee vice chairmen of Afikpo South and Ishielu Local Government Areas as well as a seven- man revenue appeal committee at Government House, Abakaliki on Wednesday, noted that it was not healthy for political appointees to relate with the people  only when there is election.

He said: “I want us to make our politics to be viable. The way we can make it so is by being at home with the electorate. It is   not during the time of election  that we start going to them. We have large population in times of election but we are very far from them.
“I want us to start redefining our politics. Politics is a means of service; a means of assisting people. It is to uplift people and change their fortunes.
The governor, who also presented staff of office to seven traditional rulers from various autonomous communities in the state, noted that the masses needed  to know about government projects especially the ones sited in their areas.
He therefore  urged   all political  appointees to take advantage of their positions to teach the people  the importance of  projects sited in their areas and how they can reach government for assistance.
  ”  The electorate  have to know the reasons why they are voting and when you have certain facilities  for  them. It is    your duty to explain to them,” he added.
 Umahi also  advised the revenue appeal commission members    to work assiduously to ensure that justice prevailed  when unsatisfactory judgement by the State Revenue Court is brought to them.
While he appealed to them to discharge their duties with the fear of God, he enjoined them to create the necessary awareness to enable  aggrieved people seek redress  from  the commission.
He added, “In case there is a miscarriage of justice at any time because of performance of their duties, the appeal or commission will now serve as a supreme court to the matter.   I want to charge you to discharge your duties with the fear of God. Make yourselves available .
  ” You have to find a way to tell the public that you exist so that whoever is not satisfied with the judgment given by the IGR court can approach you people.”
The governor also advised the traditional rulers to promote peace in their localities and ensure massive turnout of voters in the Saturday Local Government  elections.
The state chief executive also implored them to tell their wards who are 18 years and above to obtain voter  cards and to make sure that even those living outside their communities returned  home to be counted during census.
He encouraged them to reconcile with those who opposed their emergence and to imbibe the spirit of forgiveness for peace to reign in their communities.
His words,”Preach the  message of forgiveness and reconciliation  with the people that did not agree with you. Put  your kingdom at peace. Traditional rulers are empowered to participate in governance especially in the areas of security,   agriculture,   enlightenment and  mobilization of people. You have to mobilize people for    Saturday’s elections in the LGAs.” 
Earlier, the   Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice,  Augustine Nwankwegu, commended the governor for the appointments which he said were in line with the constitution and for responding to the yearnings of  rural dwellers.
Responding on behalf of others, the Chairman, Appeal Commission on Revenue, Chief Anthony Okah;   the Caretaker Vice Chairman of Afikpo South LGA, Irem Ola Lucy and Eze Godwin Nwankwegu of Edda autonomous community in Abakaliki LGA, thanked  Umahi for giving them the opportunity to serve. They  promised not to disappoint him.

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