Results from the Abia State Independent Electoral Commission (ABSIEC) screening show that five political parties have fielded 575 candidates for the 309 elective positions for Wednesday’s (December 21, 2016) local government elections in the state, the first in about 10 years.
The political parties participating in the polls are All Progressives Congress (APC), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Labour Party (LP), Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
A breakdown of the figures show that while 43 candidates from various parties would fight for the 17 chairmanship slots, 532 candidates would vie for the 292 councillorship positions in the wards across the state.
Only the ruling PDP fielded candidates for both the chairmanship and councillorship contests in all the local governments and wards with a total of 303 candidates.
APGA is fielding 13 chairmanship and 153 councillorship candidates, followed by APC with 11 chairmanship and 71 councillorship candidates.
The ABSIEC screening result also showed that Labour Party has two chairmanship and four councillorship candidates while the PPA has no chairmanship candidate but 12 councillorship candidates.
Speaking with newsmen in his office, Secretary of ABSIEC, Barrister Tony Mgbarine, said that the commission has put everything in place for a successful election.
“Election is not a one-day thing, it is not an event; it is a process. So, if you have been very close to what is happening in Abia State, in the past two and half months, we have been preparing vigorously for this election and taking into consideration all that is required for a successful election.
“So, I will tell you that ABSIEC is virtually ready and is on ground to carry out a very successful election which, Abians would be happy about,” he said.
Mgbarine said that ad-hoc staff who would serve as Returning Officers, Supervisors, Presiding Officers, Poll Clerk and Poll Orderly have been recruited and trained for the exercise.
He said the personnel who are university graduates drawn from the state’s civil service would be deployed to the polling units, wards and local governments.
On whether the commission would use Card Readers, Mgbarine said: “No, we are not going to use it because of the cumbersome nature and the cost.
“We had an experience in Sokoto State where they used it and it cost them N50 million to get it to be used in collaboration with INEC. But in Abia State we don’t have that money.
“What we have done in Abia State is to collaborate with INEC to give us the Voters Register,” the ABSIEC scribe explained.
He said ABSIEC lacked the powers to update the Voters Register, adding that it could not also display it for want of time.
“Our duty is to make use of the register that INEC has given to us. So, if they have not updated it as at the time we are doing our election, we cannot force them to update it.
So, what we are working with now is the list they have given us,” he said, adding that open secret voting would be adopted for polling while collation would be done in the open.
He said that though results may be known at the ward levels, only the Chief Electoral Officer as provided by the ABSIEC law would announce the overall results.