By CrossRiverWatch Admin
The local governments elections slated for June 17, 2017 by the Cross River State Independent Electoral Commission (CROSIEC) may not hold as scheduled with internal party politics as well as funding amongst key reason CrossRiverWatch findings reveal.
The Governor, Senator Ben Ayade is also said not to be keen on the elections as he prefers to use “transition committees” after Late Justice Okoi Ikpi Itam had thrown out a suit filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to stop the Governor from appointing caretaker committees.
Justice Itam had ruled that the present leadership of the 18 local government areas headed by the Heads of Local Government Administration (HOLGAs) were already acting in that capacity.
The CROSIEC Chairman, Mike Ushie had announced the elections timetable a few days before the judgment with the APC alleging that it was in fear of the ruling which it was sure will come out in their favor.
But, recent happenings suggests that the elections may be postponed with the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) cancelling the sales of intent and nomination forms with a prospective contestant telling this reporter that; “After turning us around, making us spend money for consultation and other things, we were told the Governor has ordered a stop to the selling of intent and nomination forms that elections will not hold at the date announced.”
On the CROSIEC timetable, two activities are supposed to be ongoing; the submission of the particulars and details of the aspirants and tour of the state to sensitize traditional rulers and other relevant stakeholders.
But; “No party has submitted anything and none has even published any guidelines for primaries neither have anybody purchased a form from CROSIEC to the best of my knowledge,” a staff of the Commission who spoke in condition of anonymity told CrossRiverWatch.
The APC too is yet to publish guidelines as well as the Labor Party with a visit to their offices revealing little or no action taking place as aspirants lurk around.
Sources in Government House also say the Governor is not keen on the elections as the state is facing financial challenges with the wage bill currently at about NGN5.1Billion.
It is also said that Governor Ayade fears the opposition parties may control some vital grounds which may work against him in 2019 as he seeks a second tenure.
However, the CROSIEC Chairman, Mike Ushie says the commission is going on with its timetable. He told CrossRiverWatch in a telephone interview on Monday that the public should dismiss information that the elections will not hold.
“I don’t know where you heard that. As a writer you should know that in times like this people come up with stories that suit them.
“I don’t know the conviction you have, as I speak presently CROSIEC is in Ogoja, the northern senatorial district for a stakeholders meeting preparatory to the elections. So if you call people who are in the north, they will tell you CROSIEC already planned for that (and) the venue is set.
“If you look at the timetable, nothing has been adjusted. We have been following the timetable religiously so I don’t know the kind of journalism people do and I don’t know exactly what that means,” he said.
On the fact that a particular party has halted the sales of forms, he said that; “That is not my business, I am an umpire and there is a time frame for all those activities. If PDP have not started selling forms, does it mean CROSIEC has closed the sale of forms? So why not wait until the expiration of the period given before you now accuse PDP that they have not done it.
“Whether they will want to do it a day to the expiration date, it is still their business. For me, that is not my headache. So those who want to take Paracetamol for another person’s headache, I am not a party to that.
“In as much as all the parties are represented and taken care of, we will operate a transparent process. You should not start judging the other people. You should not judge them whether they have eaten in their houses because you have eaten. That does not make any sense, until they come to you and crying for something before you can accuse them.
“The sale of forms begins on the 6th of this month (April) to May. You have one full month and then people are raising issues that PDP has not started. How does that concern others? Let them go ahead and submit their own. It is only after we are done with the process and the deadline expires, then we can start entertaining such concerns as you are doing,” he said.