By Patrick Obia, Kelvin Ololo and Marylyn Uyanah
The Chairman, Cross River State Independent Electoral Commission (CROSIEC) Dr. Michael Ushie has affirmed that the State electoral umpire is not on a bid to postponed Local Government Area election slated for Saturday 28th March, 2020 in spite of the increasing case of coronavirus pandemic in the country.
Though the State has no confirmed case, Dr. Michael stated this as a dual guest in the “Dialogue With Agba Jalingo” on Hit 95.9 FM Calabar, where he said that if the commission failed to conduct the election on Saturday the State electoral body would be crucified by Cross Riverians.
He said: “If we have a case in Cross River State we would avoid it, Cross Riverians would crucify us if we postponed this election, there is nobody who would not subscribe to Local Government election in Cross River State. Any genuine Cross Riverain would tell you we want Local Government election because we know the important of Local Government administration in the State, so I think it is commendable and off course, as a Commission saddled with the responsibility to conduct election,we are doing everything possible to make sure that, that confident on us by Cross Riverians would not be betrayed.
“Back to the COVID-19, I want to say that we are not careless about it, people still go to churches, people still go to the market for shopping, people still go around with their businesses, for the fact that they shutdown schools people still go out. We should leave this thing and have the election and go away nothing will happen as I believe God with the measure in place.”
He further assured electorate that the commission would work in hand with the Ministry of Health to make sure that modalities are being put in place ahead of the election.
On the contrary, a legal practitioner who was also a guest in the programme Barrister Akwaji Don Henry, argued that the LG election is not more important than the lives of Cross Riverians at a time like this, stating that the move to conduct the election on Saturday show that leaders only think of next election and not next generation.
“This election is not more than the lives of the citizens of Cross River, now if you said we should proceed with the election and you lost few people though they may not matter to you because the monies will come in and you will siphon them, how about the next generation, what will you tell them?
“This problems are there, we should be in our prevention, we should not take it with levity. I believe certainly that the comfort of this election is for some set of persons somewhere to ensure that the guidelines or the rules set out by NFIU doesn’t catch up with them so they intend to come forcefully impose some people on them not minding some other people parish, so that they can siphon our common wealth, that is all, that is all!!
“The citizens of Cross River State are more important at this time just as the citizens of the world are more important to the globe at this time, look at China, China is on the street, China that before you can’t preach the gospel openly is on the street begging God to come to their aid.
“Our leaders only think of next election and not next generation, this is what is demonstrated in this move.” He posited.
Issue of voters registration was also highlighted by the lawyer as the Chairman explained that the State electoral body was not empower to conduct voter registration but INEC, while their duty as a State commission is to write INEC to update voters register for the election.
About five political parties including APC, PDP, NNPP and two others are said to have registered and would participate in the exercise come Saturday.
Meanwhile, verification and accreditation of voters and voting will be done simultaneously.
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