Britain promises to support peaceful, credible governorship election

The British High Commission in Nigeria has pledged to support a free, fair and credible Bayelsa governorship election scheduled for November 11.

The political secretary of the commission, Hamish Tye, made the promise during a meeting with the governorship candidate of the Labour Party, Udengs Eradiri, at his residence in Yenagoa.

Mr Tye said the commission’s visit was to get a better idea of the issues shaping the poll and better understand the manifestos of each candidate of all the parties in the race.

“We have come to Bayelsa to meet the governorship candidates and get a better idea of the issues they are going to be contesting in the election. We also want to know what the people are going to be voting on the basis of and to get a better idea of what each candidate would like to do while in office,” Mr Tye.

The UK diplomat added, “We don’t have any demands per se, but our view is that the election should be peaceful and credible. We also discussed the idea of a peace accord, and that will be followed up.”

Mr Eradiri said the visit was to assess the personalities of each candidate and their dispositions to peace and security.

He said, “Generally, they wanted to know why I wanted to be governor and what I am bringing to the table. It afforded me the opportunity to express the agenda of LP in desiring to govern Bayelsa. For me, the concern that I raised and keep raising is about vote buying, which is already ongoing by the appointments that are being dished out by the government of the day.”

Mr Eradiri added, “They promised 17 appointments per polling unit and are paying N100,000 each. As for me, I am creating a lot of jobs for young people.”

The governorship hopeful said the government became jittery when he joined the race. According to him, the government has been giving appointments to Labour Party members.

“So, I am grateful that even when I am not governor yet, I am creating jobs for young people. This is what the governor should have done months ago. Doing it now amounts to vote buying,” stated Mr Eradiri. “It amounts to inducing gullible Bayelsa people to think that their life wants to start, whereas it is just for three months.”

He added that some would not be paid salaries, describing the appointments as “a show of desperation to use the people’s wealth to buy them.”

Mr Eradiri wondered why it took the governor three-and-a-half years before he realised he could appoint aides to his government. The politician also expressed concern over the alleged boasting by the government that it had control over the Independent National Electoral Commission and would influence its postings and also write the election result.

“Those are the issues we are bringing for the international community to take note of,” said Mr Eradiri.

However, Daniel Alabrah, chief press secretary to Governor Douye Diri, described the allegations as laughable.

“Is this a criticism, too? Tell him to get serious with his campaign,” Mr Alabrah said.


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