Governor Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State yesterday declared that no amount of propaganda by the opposition parties would stop the conduct of the September 6 local government election in the state.
Four opposition parties, including the All Progressives Congress (APC), Labour Party, PDM and NCP, have threatened to boycott the poll, alleging lack of fairness in the process.
But speaking at a stakeholders’ forum in Katsina, held in preparation for the election this weekend, Gov. Shema said democracy is hinged on rule of law and that it cannot be practiced without adhering to the rules.
He said despite raising several complaints which have been addressed by the state independent electoral commission, the opposition parties chose to boycott the election.
“They raised the complaints and they were addressed. Still yet they chose not to participate. We can’t force them to participate; it’s their choice and that of any individual to, or not to, take part in the elections”, he said.
“They have a right and we are not challenging that. We have no right as well to force them, we have no grudge for anyone who doesn’t want or want to participate. They are welcome. Forget about propaganda and blackmail on pages of papers; they don’t work”, he added.
Shema continued: “Our local government election is based on our local government law which governs the conduct of election. National law comes in where there is no such law.
“We have been conducting election in this state with this particular law and with time some amendments have to come in”.
He pointed out that as far as fairness is concerned, the state government has done what it could.
“The state law permits 21 days’ notice but SIEC gave 60 days and yet these parties kick and the commission in their wisdom gave additional 95 days, but still they choose not to participate. Some complained about fees as empowered by the laws and due to the hues and cries they reviewed it by 50 percent downward as well”, he noted.
While commending the commission for doing all they did to encourage participation by opposition parties, Shema declared: “I have no doubt that the way you handled it so far shall be the best example for free, fair and credible election”.
In his remarks, chairman of the State Independent Electoral Commission, Alhaji Abubakar Lawal, assured that the commission would conduct free, fair and credible elections across the 34 local governments of the state.
He said that the commission has taken delivery of all the election materials, adding that a total of 10,526 ad hoc staff were recruited for the elections.