… commends INEC for rejecting voodoo votes as Dickson congratulates Diri

Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has canvassed for legislation to check the menace of vote-buying as part of measures to safeguard the country’s electoral system.

Senator Diri stated this on Tuesday at his country home, Sampou, in Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area when his predecessor and Senator representing Bayelsa West, Chief Seriake Dickson, paid him a visit to formally congratulate him on his re-election for a second term.

According to a press statement from Daniel Alabrah, Chief Press Secretary to the Bayelsa State Governor, the governor condemned the act of vote-buying, describing the development as part of the country’s electoral process that was faulty.

He called on stakeholders to work collectively in addressing the menace in order to prevent politicians that do not mean well for the state to hijack the process.

His words: “For me, that is part of our electoral process that is very faulty. I like to urge our leaders, especially those that are in the National Assembly, to propose a bill that can solve this problem of vote-buying because it is becoming a very big problem here in Bayelsa State.

“So we all need to put our minds together to see how we can address this issue because that is the only way we can prevent politicians who do not mean well for the state from having access to political power.”

Diri thanked Bayelsans for renewing his mandate to serve them for another four years.

In his remarks, Senator Seriake Dickson said he led a delegation of the Bayelsa West Senatorial District to congratulate Diri on his well-deserved victory.

He noted that in securing a second term, the governor has four more years of stability to consolidate on his development agenda for the state.

According to Dickson, “just as the people of Sagbama-Ekeremor senatorial district supported you in 2019 election, they did it again this time and they are still assuring you of their support in this fresh mandate.

“There is high expectations from the people and we know and trust that you will bring it about. You have taken the road to Ekeremor and we also expect that you will start the road to Agge. Power means nothing if it does not bring about development, peace and prosperity.”

Also on Tuesday night, during a live Channels Television political programme, the re-elected Bayelsa governor applauded the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for cancelling and rejecting questionable ballot figures earlier returned for Nembe local government area in Saturday’s poll.

Diri lauded the electoral umpire for insisting on the use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) to protect the integrity of the election.

He said the BVAS device was fully deployed during the election just as there was prompt distribution of sensitive and non sensitive materials across the state.

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He said: “The electoral umpire did well and l want to believe that this is one of the best elections it has conducted where the BVAS was brought to full test and we saw that wherever it was bypassed, all parties were scored zero.”

Making reference to Nembe-Bassambiri community where the BVAS was bypassed, he said INEC entered zero votes for such areas.

The state’s helmsman noted that while the conduct of the election could be adjudged to be free, fair and transparent, it however was not perfect as it was human effort.

Comparing the conduct of the elections in Bayelsa to Kogi and Imo states, the governor noted that the terrain of Bayelsa was totally different from the two other states and attributed the delay in releasing results to the state’s difficult terrain.

“When there was hue and cry over the delay in releasing results, we understood that it was not that easy for election to be conducted and results stream in the way they could have in Kogi and Imo states.”

He also exonerated INEC from the violence and hijack of election materials that occurred in Bassambiri, stressing that the politicians were to blame.

“Rather than accusing the electoral umpire, l think that the politicians in Bayelsa should be accused. For instance, l just gave you an example of Bassambiri and the history of what happened there before the election.

“It is a place where my party’s supporters were chased out of the community, including the Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. We tried to bring them back a day to the election but over 500 of them were prevented from entering the community.

“The intention was to ensure that no other party apart from APC went in there, which they succeeded and that led to the bypass of the BVAS so they can bring in voodoo votes from that part of the state.

“At the end of the day, everywhere you had proper voting, the votes that trickled in were in their very few numbers. But in Nembe-Bassambiri where BVAS was bypassed and there was no election, you saw figures of over 40,000 votes. The same applied to Okpoama in Brass local government area where the candidate of the APC comes from and you also had issues of violence and killing of a young PDP supporter recorded.

“So the issue is not much with the electoral commission but with the character of the kind of people l saw as my opponent in this election.”

When asked if he would extend a hand of fellowship to those who contested with him, Diri said: “I will extend my hand of fellowship to all those who contested with me. My maxim from day one when l took over the reins of power is, to show love where there is hatred and to give light where there is darkness.

“But l will not reach out to murderers. l will not reach out to very violent people. There must be a mindset to move away from the violence and murderous attitude of Timipre Sylva and those around him.”

On why he ran for a second term, Diri explained that he wanted to prove wrong critics that said he was a Supreme Court-made governor and that he could not win election in the state.