Judex Okoro, Calabar
The Social Democratic Party (SDP), in Cross River State, has kicked against moves by Governor Ben Ayade to appoint caretaker committees at local government councils, a few months before 2019 election.
Recently, Governor Ayade directed all Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chapter caucuses to meet immediately to work out modalities and recommend names for appointment as members of caretaker committees for local government councils.
In a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Christian Ita, Governor Ayade urged the chapter caucuses to ensure transparency and fairness by carrying all the wards along in the exercise.
Describing the directive as illegal and a desperate attempt to maintain his hold on power, the Cross River State Social Democratic Party, SDP, governorship candidate, Bar Eyo O. Ekpo, wondered the sudden interest in local government three-and-half years into his first tenure.
Ekpo said, “Cross River is no longer a one-party State. As such, Governor Ayade’s directive goes completely against democratic principles and it cannot stand. The Governor should formally conduct local government elections in accordance with the 1999 Constitution and the Law or forget about it completely and let sleeping dogs lie.
“Administration of local governments can only be undertaken by duly elected local government chairmen and councillors. The Cross River Local Government Law as well as the 1999 Constitution are crystal clear on this and the High Court of Cross River State has so determined.
“Ayade’s sudden interest in local governments, three and a half years into his tenure, is because the SDP has rightly connected the breakdown in law and order across the State to the absence of these local councils, which have historically been the foundation of a peaceful Cross River, together with a functional traditional institution.”
According to him, this latest move is not only an attempt to deliberately subvert the 1999 Constitution and his oath of office and the rule of law, but to placate his visibly angry Party members with free local government offices without the trouble of campaigning and winning elections.
He also knows the PDP will be beaten in any LG polls because he is very unpopular not only within his Party but more importantly in every part of Cross River State, hence this illegal idea to constitute LGAs without elections.
The SPD candidate said Cross River is no longer a one-party State and as such Governor Ayade’s directive goes completely against democratic principles and it cannot stand, urging him to formally conduct local government elections in accordance with the 1999 Constitution and the Law.
The tenure of the last council chairmen expired in December 2016 and since then the councils are being run by head of local government administration, HOLGA, appointed by Governor Ayade.