Our attention has been drawn to Governor Ben Ayade’s directive to all PDP chapters in Cross River to recommend names for appointment as members of caretaker committees for local government councils; and to his subsequent decision to personally select members of these caretaker committees.
As elections approach, this move is the latest in a series of attempts at emergency governance by an unpopular incumbent who is desperate to maintain his hold on power.
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.
In keeping with his stewardship of the State so far, his response to our concerns is not only incompetent but also illegal. 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.
Governor Ben Ayade has deliberately subverted the 1999 Constitution, his oath of office and the rule of law in trying to placate his visibly angry Party members with free local government offices without the trouble of campaigning and winning elections, despite the tenure of the last Chairmen expiring in December 2016.
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.
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.
Eyo O. Ekpo
Social Democratic Party (SDP), Cross River State