IDOWU OLAKUNLE

Women wishing to contest for elective offices in the upcoming local government polls in Ogun State yesterday heaved a sigh of relief as they have been exempted from paying cash deposits

Chairman of the Ogun State Independent Electoral Commission, Barrister Babatunde Osibodu gave the cheering news in Abeokuta while speaking at the official flag-off ceremony of Political activities leading to 2021 local government elections in the state.

He also assured that that the election would be free and fair.

Osibodu said that the decision of the electoral body is because it is a gender sensitive institution.

According to him, the decision would also encourage women to take part in elections.

However, male contestants were not so lucky as they would need to pay between N100 and N100,000, depending on the positions they are seeking.

Osibodu who said the essence of the ceremony was to give a sense of confidence and belief to all and sundry, especially the major actors in the state political process, noted that the electoral body would be transparent to all as it conducts election that would be a bench in the snaps of the state political history.

“We shall listen to all interested parties, and ensure that our decisions take into consideration the interests of all parties,” he said

Osibodu added, “we are resolved to conduct elections that will not just be seen as free, fair and credible but one that will remain a benchmark in the annals of the history of elections in Ogun State and Nigeria.”

The OGSIEC chairman noted that in scheduling the coming elections and preparing the guidelines, the electoral body was guided by several enabling laws, paramount among them, Section 197,sub-section 1(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, which authorizes the establishment of the State Independent Electoral Commissions across the country and Section 14 of the Ogun State Independent Electoral Commission Law 2001, which empowers the Commission to organize, undertake and supervise all elections to Local Government Councils in the State in accordance with the provisions of the Law or any enactment, guidelines, rules or manuals issued or made by the Commission.

“We are also fully guided by the Ogun State Electoral Law 2007 (as amended), which provides guidance on the processes and procedures to follow in the electoral process,” he said.

He, however, urged politicians in the state to comply fully with the laid down rules governing the conduct of the coming elections, stressing that, “we on our part, shall forge ahead and continually reassess ourselves in order to identify areas of improvement on a daily basis.

“It is on this note that I wish to appeal to the entire political class as well as aspirants to embrace the guidelines and entire stipulations contained therein very seriously, not just during the campaigns but throughout the
entire election period”

He enjoined them to equally demonstrate a high sense of patriotism, discipline and unalloyed commitment to the
survival of the electoral process and democracy in Ogun State.

“Let me equally use this auspicious occasion to call on the good people of Ogun State, most especially the youth, to embrace dignity and self-esteem , and not allow themselves to be used as instruments of violence, to eschew all forms of anti-democratic activities including ballots snatching, multiple voting, and other forms of malpractice in our quest to elect responsible, credible and responsive leaders at the grassroots” Osibodu advised.

He pleaded for maximum co-operation from the media, saying, “Your role in ensuring credible, free and fair elections cannot be over emphasized.”