By Ushang Ewa
The Cross River State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has accused Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade of deliberately masterminding the challenges that have led to the delay in the conduct of the local government elections in the state.
This was contained in a statement signed by the State Publicity Secretary of the APC, Men’s Ikpeme, issued Saturday in Calabar which said Mr. Ayade is in haste to conduct elections but caught in a web of fear of the federal government granting autonomy to local governments and the state assemblies which will make him lose grip of the contest.
“Governor Ben Ayade is afraid of the local government autonomy, afraid of being caught in the web by the federal government granting autonomy to local government area, the state legislators and judiciary, if this happens, CROSIEC can no longer handle local government election.
“So he has to rush the local government elections for fear of being toppled by All Progressives Congress. After discovering that APC is on ground,” the APC said and announced its support for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct elections for the executive and legislative arms of the third tier of government.
“All Progressives Congress are convinced that INEC has the capacity to organize and conduct local government elections that shall reflect the wishes of the people and meets Nigerian and international standards; where all the political parties will be participating at a level playing ground; where there must be clarity, consistency and certainty regarding the constitutional and electoral frame work for the conduct of local government election. Political parties shall benefit from certainty in terms of date for the conduct of local government elections.
“APC puts it that if local government elections are handled fairly, winners of the local government elections shall improve the pool of quality leadership that will manage the resources at that level more efficiently. At the end of the day, the state shall have a reservoir of brilliant leadership and we shall be able to find prosperity at the local level,” the APC said and maintained that the constitution was clear on local government administration.
“It is clear that section 7 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s Constitution imposes a duty to state governments to ensure that the system of local government continues unhindered,” the APC said and posited that the tenure of the past administration ended in August 2016.
However, CrossRiverWatch findings reveals that the tenures of the last administrations ended in December 2016, while that of Bakassi ended in January 2017.
And, the APC maintained that the absence of a definite timetable has affected stakeholders.
“The defiance of Governor Ayade in pronouncing a definite schedule for the conduct of local government elections in Cross River State has impacted negatively on the state, political parties and CROSIEC (Cross River State Independent Electoral Commission). Statutory period for fresh elections is 90 days from date of end of previous tenure,” the APC said.
CROSIEC had announced an indefinite suspension of the elections due to the Continuous Voters Registration exercise.
But, the APC accused Mr. Ayade the House of Assembly and CROSIEC of “always unilaterally” changing the timeline for the conduct of election.
“Governor Ben Ayade deliberately changes the publication of notice of Elections and time for submission of list of candidates, their particulars and the timing of release of funds for the conduct of Elections. Governor Ayade has made the local government elections in Cross River state a mockery of democracy,” the APC said and added that Mr. Ayade’s “fraudulent act of dissolving local government councils and replacing them with his choice of directors amounts to acting on his whims and fancies, unknown to the Nigerian laws and clearly illegal.”
Furthermore, the party said the currently leadership of the councils were middlemen who grabbed everything positive for the councils and alleged this was part of a ploy to ensure that Ayade’s party; the PDP wins which according to the APC, was evident in the directive to aspirants of the People’s Democratic Party not to pick up intent forms while Mr. Ayade ‘secretly’ conducts “selections.”
“Instead of Governor Ayade to ensure the existence of local government council, He is wholly and solely responsible for destroying them in Cross River state.
“He intends to use CROSIEC to organize elections where only his party wins, which is a perfect way to mock democracy at the grass root,” the statement read.
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