Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers has claimed that the non-participation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was resposible for the successful conduct of Saturday’s council elections in the state.
He also said the boycott of the election which he desribed as credible by the APC was why the the process was peaceful.
The Governor spoke in an interview with newsmen shortly after monitoring the election in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas.
According to a statement by Mr Simeon Nwakaudu, his media aide, the governor also commended the security agencies for creating the right atmosphere and ensuring that the elections are peaceful.
He said: “Sixty-six out of 68 political parties participated, but no violence. That means that if APC had participated, probably we would have seen violence.
“Sixty-six political parties, no violence, no shooting, nobody has died.
“But, if the APC had participated, they would want to coerce security agencies, they would do all manner of negative things like bringing cultists to shoot.
“You can see that nobody hijacked materials. Everything has been peaceful.’’
The governor also noted that the security agencies played their constitutional roles during the elections.
“I have called the heads of security agencies and commended them for a job well done. That is what I have always said – allow people to vote for those they want,’’ he said.
Wike said that the message to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was that they could conduct credible elections if they resisted pressures from different quarters.
“INEC can be committed to do the right thing; once they build confidence, every other thing will move on smoothly.
“We have gone round two local government areas; the elections went on peacefully and they were credible. Election materials arrived on time, except for a few places.
“Like this, nobody will complain. Observers from across the board have commended the process,’’ Wike said.
However, Mrs Grace Nicholas, a Labour Party agent for Unit 5, Ward 10 in Obio-Akpor Local Government Area, said she was not satisfied with the concluding part of the election.
“I am no longer satisfied as a polling unit agent for LP; I feel intimidated may be because I am woman.
“I am no longer happy, I sensed that the election is about to be rigged in this unit 5,” she said.
Nicholas, however, acknowledged that the process started peacefully though the RSIEC officials arrived late at the polling units with the materials.
“So many persons came out earlier to vote but there was no material then, but they still came out when the materials were available.
“Everything was going on fine until the rain came and after it things became upside down, that I don’t understand what is going on.”
The electoral commission attributed the peaceful and successful conduct of the elections to adequate security and orderly behaviour of the electorate.
The commission’s Media and Publicity Officer, Mr Innocent Boma, stated this in an interview.
NAN correspondents who monitored the elections reported that a stormy rainfall almost disrupted the exercise in the afternoon hours, especially in Port Harcourt area.
The heavy rain started at about 2.30 p.m. with flashes of lightning, forcing voters at polling booths to run for shelter, but it did not affect the conduct of polls.
In Eleme area, only the voters already at the polling stand and had been accredited were seen casting their votes amid the downpour.