By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent
Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade has said that given the record performance of his administration despite the lean financial resources accruing to the state, his government is not scared of the 2019 general elections as all the state asks for is a free and fair election.
Mr. Ayade stated this Tuesday morning when he hosted the new Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Dr. BIriyai Frankland who informed the governor in his remarks that the first phase of the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) been carried out by the commission had seen the addition of over 73,000 new voters added to the register.
The Governor expressed confidence that Mr. Frankland will conduct a free and fair election and hoped that there will be no ‘Abuja Might’ in the next elections and charged the new REC to be ethical in his approach to conducting elections.
“If you have ethics in your attitude, in your carriage, in your conduct and the way you run your governance, you will expect that ethics permeate in elections process. I am happy that you gave your commitment that you will run a transparent, free, fair and unbiased elections. That is what we seek in Cross River State.
“We know what we have done. Cross River State has in real fact, the lowest allocation in the country even though statistics has it that we are number 35, we are actually number 36 by the time you take out deductions from DMO. So ultimately, we are at the last rung of federal allocation as a state.
“But if you look at the visions, if you look at the projects on ground. If I took all of my commissioners to start elucidating what projects are going on, you will know that Cross River State has no worries worried about 2019.
“All we seek is a free and credible elections where there is no might of Abuja might coming to hijack materials, coming to dictate who gets what. If we follow the electoral processes, particularly, the electoral law as amended it is clear, it is evident that elections will be won directly at the polling booth not at the collation centers as we have seen in the past.
“Not collating centers where a particular party is fenced from getting access while one party goes in and compromises the system and makes an announcement of results which is completely dysfunctional departure from what is on ground,” Mr. Ayade said.
Earlier, Mr. Frankland said he had visited the governor to intimate him of the success of the first phase of the CVR where he pointed out that Mr. Ayade’s local government area, Obudu recorded the highest turnout of over 7,000 people with Bakassi recording the least.
“Within the first phase that commenced April 27 to 20th of July this year, the commission was able to register over 73,000 people. We were able to distribute well over 5,000 permanent voters cards.
“From the records that we have so far, coincidentally, the local government of the executive governor; Obudu local government area recorded the highest of voters registration. We registered well over 7,000 people from there. It was followed by Yakurr which had about 6,000 people registered.
“But as we all know, the least was recorded in Bakassi local government area. It is a peculiar local government area and nobody should be surprised here.”
He solicited for more support from the state and commended the state for mobilizing citizens of eligible age to register for their Permanent Voters Cards.
Also, He said that he will ensure that the commission will deliver on its mandate of conducting a free, fair, credible and transparent election for as long as he stays in the state as REC.
“I will ensure that by the end of the elections that are coming up, I will ensure that there is free, fair, very transparent and technical elections that will be held.” Mr. Franklyn said.
Mr. Frankland who hails from Ijaw south local government area of Bayelsa state was among the 14 new REC’s appointed by Nigeria’s Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo on June 29, 2017 with Obo Effangha from Cross River State also included.
Before his appointment, he served as the Dean of Students Affairs in the Niger Delta University in Bayelsa and was an Air Officer in the Nigerian Air Force prior to that.