“There is no way we can conduct a free and fair election without security,” says an official of INEC.
Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State has challenged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure the conduct of free, fair and credible elections in the state.
The governor gave the challenge on Wednesday in Calabar when he received the new Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, Alalibo Johnson.
Mr Ayade assured the INEC of a peaceful atmosphere before and during the 2023 general elections in the state.
He said given the new REC’s “track records and integrity”, he had no doubt he would deliver.
“On behalf of the good people of Cross River State, l hereby give you that commitment that we will guarantee you free and safe elections.
“We also call on the INEC to please honour its pledge too, so that we can have free, fair, credible, reliable and dependable elections,” Mr Ayade said.
“Government is not going to, in any way, influence your process, but we want to say that we are available and willing to support you at all times that INEC will require our services,” he added.
Governor Ayade commended the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, whom he said “has distinguished himself in this country”.
“Never before have we had an INEC Chairman who has enjoyed the mutual trust from both the ruling party and the opposition parties.
“This is one chairman who has conducted his elections and results returned based on what is on the ground.
“He is not subject to any inducement, he is subject to the God that he serves and l want to say that his name would go down in history as one of the very best INEC Chairmen that we have ever had. God bless him and God will continue to sustain him.”
Earlier in his speech, the new REC said a free and fair election can only thrive in a conducive atmosphere.
“There is no way we can conduct a free and fair election without security. We call on you to use your good offices to ensure that we have peace in the state.
“Peace in the sense that people can move freely to vote for candidates of their choice, and also, we at the back end of INEC can do our job without intimidation,” he stated.
The REC disclosed that about 90,000 uncollected PVCs were listed across the 18 local government areas of the state. He appealed to the registrants to come forward and pick up their PVCs.
He said that with the creation of new polling units, Cross River now had 3,281 Polling units.