The Independent National Electoral Commission says 14 political parties indicated interest in the Isoko South Constituency 1 bye-election while 12 parties have candidates for today’s contest.
The seat became vacant following the death of the member representing the area, Mr Kenneth Ogba in July.
Among the parties are the APC and PDP which have engaged in a fierce campaign and mobilization of support for their candidates.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa personally led the PDP campaign train which was in Isoko South local government area earlier this week after Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, the deputy senate president, had led the campaign train of the party to the local government area.
Their determination may not be unconnected to the revelation by the State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Pastor Monday Udoh-Tom, that the commission is ready to conduct a free and fair election through the use of the newly introduced Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) which he said would be used for fingerprint authentication during accreditation where it fails for facial authentication.
During the campaign, Omo-Agege noted that the election would provide the APC with the opportunity to test-run its strategy it hopes to unleash in the 2023 general elections to snatch control of power in the state from the PDP. The deputy senate president urged voters in the area to dump the ‘umbrella’ for the ‘broom’ by voting massively for his party’s candidate in all the units and wards.
While urging the electorate to vote for the APC candidate in the election, Dr Ogaga Ifowodo and that APC members and supporters should close ranks to win the by-election, he said Governor Okowa did not love Isoko people beyond lip-service, noting that voting for APC would bring them to power at the centre.
On the other hand, Governor Okowa, while addressing PDP members and supporters at a rally at Oleh, administrative headquarters of Isoko South on Wednesday stressed the importance of mobilisation of the electorate.
“The BVAS would be used simultaneously with the old practice of accreditation of each voter by fingerprint and photograph to ensure authenticity and validity of votes cast,” he said.
While calling for harmony and unified sense of purpose by PDP members and local leaders, Okowa said: “There is need to be united because a divided people cannot develop as much as a united people and I want brotherly love and unity to continue to reign in Isokoland.
“Isoko people are already a blessed people and it is my prayer that Isoko nation will not see the kind of things that happened this year because we have lost many sons and daughters of Isoko this year alone,” he said.