From Judex Okoro, Calabar
Cross River State Independent Electoral Commission (CROSIEC), has postponed the 2023local government election which was earlier scheduled for May 2023.
The elections will now hold on October 21, 2023 as against the earlier announced date of May 24, 2023. CROSIEC had on July 20, 2022 released the time table for council polls.
Following the time table, parties have resumed electoral processes on the nomination, screening and getting set for primaries’ election.
The tenure of current 18 chairmen and 196 councillors would end on June 1, 2023. And with this development, Governor Ben Ayade’s successor would appoint caretaker committee members for the 18 councils.
However, in a statement issued by CROSIEC Chairman, Ass. Prof. Mike Ushie, on Tuesday in Calabar, the commission cited budgetary concerns as a major reason behind the shift in date for the election.
The statment read in part: “The reschedule is due to budgetary concerns as the approved 2023 Local Government Council elections is captured in the 2023 appropriation with no supplementary provision in the 2022 budget.
“The action was in line with Section 24 (2) of the Electoral Act 2022 as amended. Also, political parties are to sign and collect the rescheduled timetable at its headquarters in Calabar and said that the guidelines remain unchanged.
But checks by Daly Sun revealed that some stalwarts of All Progressives Congress (APC) were worried at the outcome of the party processes and therefore, prevailed on Governor Ayade to shelve the idea of conducting local government election as it was generating bad blood and may cause further division among members.
Some of the stalwarts were said to have impressed it on the Governor not go ahead considering the bickerings and in-fighting between current council cahirmen and other aspirants, who felt the incumbents should not be given automatic tickets as was being rumoured.
In some councils including Calabar South and Calabar Municipality, top APC heavy weights were already up in arms with their incumbent chairmen.
The incumbent 18 chairmen were already eying second term tickets, claiming that the Governor had promised all of them (chairmen and councillors),who defected with him from PDP to APC, automatic tickets to councils.
Reacting to the development, the State chairman of opposition Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Venatius Ikem, Esq, said they are adequately prepared for the election whenever it shall be held because our people are determined not to be taken for granted again.
In a telephone interview, Ikem welcome the development coming against the background of our demand for a contest based on the New Electoral Act including the use of Bimodial Accreditation.
He said: “We know that Governor Ayade’S CROSIEC is incapable of conducting a free and fair election under such searchlight so given that the Governor had imagined that it would be a walkover as it was in the last local govt election in 2020 or thereabouts.
“Now, the rules have changed under the new Electoral Act and we were confident that he cannot survive an election under the new regime. We thank God for legislative engineering that continues to improve our electoral processes.