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Be mindful of the CSOs you accredit to monitor elections, Yahaya Bello tells INEC

Jamilah Nasir

Yahaya Bello, governor of Kogi state, has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission to be mindful of the civil society organisation accredited to monitor elections.

Some of the CSOs which monitored Saturday’s governorship and senatorial rerun elections had raised the alarm over irregularities, citing instances.

But speaking in an interview on Channels Television, Bello said the organisations that rated the elections poorly because of violence did not visit enough places or interview many people before reaching such conclusion.

He said the process was free, fair and credible, accusing some CSOs of bias.

“The conduct of the election was quite very credible. A level playing field was provided and it was free and fair. Of course, in any election, there is bound to be one issue or the other and you can’t really take pockets of issues to judge the general conduct of the election,” Bello said.

“Regarding the comments of the civil society organisations, well, they are entitled to their own opinion but let us know the parameters with which they are judging this particular election. How many polling units did they visit out of over 2,548 polling units, 239 wards and 21 local governments… how many people did they reach out to. There were over 600,000 votes cast. Did they interview all the voters?

“So, I wouldn’t stop them from making their opinion but the only advice for the umpire which is INEC is that when next they are selecting those who are supposed to observe and monitor this kind of important exercise, I think they should look into the credibility of some of those people and their antecedents and background.

“I am not denying the fact that there was pockets of violence, especially in Dekina, but I am asking this question that out of 21 local governments, 239 wards and 248 polling units, how many recorded violence? How many of the voters were interviewed before using the violence in Dekina local government to judge the credibility of the entire process. I think INEC needs to be given credit.”

Commenting on the payment of salaries in Kogi, Bello said there is no truth to the claim that the state is owing its workers.

He said he has cleared salary backlog, adding that what is left unpaid is the debt he inherited from previous administrations.

“On the issue of salaries, you see, all this while, I decide to keep quiet over all these lies that were peddled in the media about salary being owed or salary not being owed,” he said.

“Let me tell you, former Governor Audu left salaries unpaid, Governor Ibrahim Iris left salaries unpaid, my immediate predecessor left salaries unpaid up to the excess of 5 months… I came on board inheriting all these liabilities and I strove to solve it.

“As I speak to you today, Kogi state is not owing any dime, especially at state level. What is left is the 10 percent of the previous administration’s liabilities and we will be clearing them month by month.”

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