From Willie Etim and Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
The Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has declared that the inability of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Police to play by the electoral rules is responsible for electoral fraud in the country.
He said that if the two agencies follow the electoral guidelines, elections would be credible and peaceful in Nigeria.
Wike made the observations on Tuesday during a courtesy visit by the new Rivers State Resident Electoral Commissioner of INEC, Mr. Obo Effanga, at the Government House, Port Harcourt.
Governor Wike therefore urged INEC to conduct credible polls in 2019.
He said that conflicts arise from elections when INEC fails to do the right and bow to pressure from politicians on the ruling party.
He charged the Resident Electoral Commissioner to resist any attempt by the leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government to prevail on him to rig the elections on their behalf.
He said: “If you resist it and conduct free and fair elections, every elected officer will have no choice but to perform. If the person does not perform, the person knows that re-election will be difficult.
“You should use this opportunity to avert electoral crisis in Rivers State by conducting credible elections. We are heightening projects delivery because we want to build the confidence of the people that their mandate is not taken for granted. If we are relying on INEC, we will not work for the people,” he said.
He noted that the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State would not mount any pressure on INEC because of its performance of his administration.
Governor Wike alleged that the immediate past Rivers INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Aniedi Ikiowak, was used by the Federal Government to steal the people’s mandate and print fake electoral materials.
Earlier, Effanga promised that the commission would conduct credible polls in the state.
He urged politicians and other stakeholders to play by the rules and support the process for credible polls.
The INEC boss said that the state has more than three million registered voters, while 2.172, 467 voters have collected their permanent voter cards.