Friday, 19 July 2019

Assembly man calls on Ayade to conduct LG election


The member representing Ogoja state constituency in the Cross River Sate House of Assembly and leader of the house, Rt. Hon. Peter Odey has called on the governor of Cross River state, Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade to as a matter of urgency and necessity conduct local government elections for all the 18 local government areas of the state, stating that as the third tier of government, democratically elected leaders have an important role to play which civil servants can't constitutionally fit into. 

Odey, who made this call while sharing thoughts with newsmen in his office, said the creation of the local government system of governance wasn't a mistake as its importance are far reaching than one can imagine. He went on to opine that the existence of democratically elected leaders in the local government system would have helped addressed or avoided most of the communal crisis being  experienced in most communities in the state today.

 "I am in support of a democratically elected local government system in Cross River State and if there is anything the House has done, we have persistently advised the Executive Government to conduct local government elections".

"I also think that part of these communal clashes we do have in our various local government areas is because of lack of government at that level. Like in Odukpani now, if you have a local government chairman there, he becomes the Chief Security officer of that area and he will ensure that there is peace within the area. And so, that will help governance in general". The two termed lawmaker asserted. 

He went on to decry the poor state of affairs of most local government councils. "If you go to Ogoja right now and get into the local government secretariat, it looks dead. The activities down there are grounded". He said. 

"We in the legislative arm of government do believe that if a local government is properly constituted, it will aid reduce pressure on us as legislators. Sometimes, even before the problems could get to us, they are solved down there already". He added 

Odey also informed that the house had taken measures and constitutional steps within their limit to ensure elections were conducted, but wondered why the conduct of the elections is becoming an uphill task. 

"We have done all we could as legislators. In the 8th Assembly, we screened and cleared members of CROSIEC (Cross River State Independent National Electoral Commission) and charged them with the mandate to conduct local government elections within six months. We also passed the budget which had provisions for the conduct of elections. At the expiration of the six months they came back to us we even gave them an extension of three months. But after that I can't tell what happened next".

"I will still advise government, it's not too late, to has a matter of urgency conduct the local government elections, especially now that we have this NFIU guidelines, so that we can have peopel at the local government level we can hold responsible. Conduct of local government elections will help for local government funding". He  Added. 

When asked if he believes CROSIEC is capable of conducting a free and fair elections, the lawmaker revealed that elections conducted by state's electoral umpires are never free and fair,  the ruling party in the states are known for ensuring the entire seats are swept by them, from the council chairmen to all the wards councilors which he noted is not the best for democracy.

I  do not even believe that CROSIEC can conduct a free and fair election, not just in Cross River State alone, I don't believe that Local Government elections conducted by governors of the 36 states of Nigeria are a reflection of what the people want. So if they have taken a decision that INEC should take over the conduct of elections for Local Government, I support it. Maybe that will be good for our democracy". He said. 

Hon. Odey who faulted the electoral process that brought him into office as a lawmaker also revealed that the process wasn't a perfect one stating that the system in the country has made it very difficult for INEC to conduct a free and fair election. 

When asked if he believes the elections that brought him into office were a reflection of the people's yearnings he said;

"No! I don't think so, I will be lying to myself if I say it was the way elections were supposed to be conducted. But we believe INEC is not suppose to be a political party or on support of a political party". 

On his 2023 ambition, Rt. Hon. Peter Odey informed that he rather thinks about the next generation and not the next election. He said being barely 2 months old into his new mandate, it will only be unfair for him to start thinking about the next election when he has not yet delivered on the mandate given him. The lawmaker made it clear that for now, his thoughts are centered on adding value to the people and constituency he is representing. 

" When 2023 comes, it will sought itself out ". He concluded.