CrossRiverWatch Editorial: 2013 Local Council Polls – Let the Electorate Decide

In Breaking News, Columnists, National News, Opinion, Politics, Reports

by crossriverwatch admin

On Monday, March 18, 2013, the Chairman of Cross River State Independent Electoral Commission, Sir Patrick Otu, unveiled the time table for the 2013 elections for the chairmen and councilors positions in the eighteen council areas and one hundred and ninety-six political wards of the state with the polling date fixed for Saturday September 21, 2013.

While unveiling the timetable for the elections to the public and the press at the cultural center Calabar, Sir Patrick Otu, said local government elections are the most tedious elections in the country due to the interest they generate amongst the local people.

He added that democracy has grown in “leaps and bounds in the state and that democratic culture is gradually been ingrained into the psyche of the people and the electorate now insists on one man one vote and that their vote must count”.

Sir Otu’s statement is not only fact laden; it equally has a full grasp of the grim reality that is confronting the State in particular and Nigeria in general.

It is to the credit of the political elites in Cross River State that the state has proudly maintained its tradition as one of the few states in the country that conduct local government elections regularly in a nation where less than 200 local governments out of 774 have democratically elected chairmen since 1999.

This tradition is also a clear indication of Cross Riverian’s resolve to keep faith with the local government system as the third tier of government that will take development closer to the people.

Cross Riverians demonstrated that much when the State Deputy Governor, Barrister Effiok Cobham was booed at the public hearing organized by the Senate on the review of the 1999 Constitution in Calabar.

At the South South Zonal event which held on Thursday November 15, 2012 at Monty Suites in Calabar, Cobham attracted the wrath of participants at the hearing when he canvassed that local government councils should be turned to administrative arms of the state government at the grassroots level.

As a result of the outright rejection of his unpopular contribution, which is the position of the Cross State Government, he was interrupted for several minutes as the participants booed him for what some described as a selfish position.

The grim reality also, like the state Electoral Commission Chairman rightly stated is that the democratic culture has indeed, being gradually ingrained in the voters psyche and they will not accept anything less than one-man-one-vote from the Commission come September.

The Commission must rise beyond partisan interest and stand as an impartial umpire that will conduct the local council elections strictly according to laid down rules in the Electoral Act.

Crossriverwatch urges government to avail the Commission of all necessary support and logistics to ensure preparation begins in earnest to forestall avoidable hitches.

It is our expectation also that the ruling party will resist the temptation to interfere with the process and gain undue advantage and allow the voters alone to determine who take the reins of leadership at the grassroots come September.

We are equally hopeful that the election with present a big opportunity for the people of Cross River State to also hold the opposition parties accountable and ask them to present credible alternatives to the voters.

The startling revelation from documents obtained from the office of the Accountant General of the Federation AGF, that a whooping N203billion was allocated to the eighteen local government areas of the State in the past five years of Imoke’s administration with no commensurate value for the money at the councils, makes it more imperative for voters to pay attention to this process and ensure every one of us and every public and private agency on the responsibility chain, perform maximally to make the process and the election successful and make sure the voters’ will prevail.

These we believe will go a long way to entrench good governance at the local councils in the state.

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