By EHIGIMETOR IGBAUGBA
CALABAR- Gov. Ben Ayade of Cross River has challenged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure conduct of free, fair and credible elections in Cross River.
The Governor gave the challenge on Wednesday in Calabar when he received the new Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, Dr Alalibo Johnson.
Ayade, however, assured the INEC of peaceful atmosphere before and during the 2023 general elections in the state.
He noted that given the new REC’s track records and integrity, he had no doubt he would deliver.
According to him, “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.
“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 so require our services.”
Ayade commended the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu “who has distinguished himself in this country”.
Speaking further, he said “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 who harped on the need for a conducive atmosphere, noted that it is what is needed for free and fair elections to thrive.
“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 and appealed to the registrants to come forward and pick up their PVCs.
He also said that with the creation of new polling units, Cross River now had 3,281 Polling units.(NAN)