Bayelsa State Labour Party (LP) governorship candidate, Engr. Udengs Eradiri, has decried the ongoing local government electoral process in the state ahead of Saturday’s poll, describing it as undemocratic and shameful.

Eradiri lamented that the entire electoral process was fraught with high-handedness, corrupt practices, and others designed to favour candidates of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), with results already predetermined by the Bayelsa State Independent Electoral Commission (BYSIEC).

He said it was not surprising that members of the PDP were all over the streets boasting publicly that the results of the yet-to-be-conducted poll had been written to allow only the candidates of their party to sweep the entire positions.

Eradiri, a former commissioner for youth and later environment, in a statement in Yenagoa made available to the press, said the state governor had allowed everything he complained about ahead of the just-concluded governorship election in the state to characterise the LG poll scheduled for Saturday.

His words: “From a compromised Bayelsa State Electoral Commission to a process designed to favour only the ruling PDP, the local government electoral process in Bayelsa State is laughable, non-competitive and undemocratic and will surely become a scam, a sham, and a charade.

“These governors manipulate local government administrations in their various states by compromising the grassroots elections to deny the people genuine representations.

“They plant their goons as chairmen and councillors after agreeing a sharing formula of resources accruing to local government. So, instead of being an independent tier of government, the local government has become an appendage of the state governor, an extension of his office.

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“This flagrant abuse of the constitution by governors has gone on unchallenged for a long time contributing to entrenching poverty at the grassroots. The overbearing influence of governors on our local government has rendered an important tier of government impotent and unable to deliver its constitutional mandate.”

Eradiri wondered why governors like Diri could not muster the political will to initiate local government electoral reforms, but would constantly and loudly call for the reforms of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), especially whenever their party was not in control at the centre.

The former president of the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide recalled that a former Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, once reformed the local government election in his state, introduced electronic voting that created a level playing field that allowed the opposition PDP to win some local government areas.

Eradiri said it was high time the National Assembly and the President came to the rescue of local government administration by removing the greedy grip of governors from it.

He called for a total overhaul of the section of the constitution establishing the local government to remove aspects promoting undue influence of local government by governors.

He urged the National Assembly to amend the law establishing local government administration to allow the INEC to conduct elections for vacant positions.

“Until the people are allowed to freely elect their leaders at the grassroots, the local government will continue to serve only the interests of governors and not those of the people. And until local government is restructured to play its functions, the growth and development of this country will continue to slow down,” he said.