Five Non Governmental Organisations in Cross River State, namely: Cross River State for Good Governance, (CRSFGG), Cross River Accountability Forum, (CRAF), Cross River Society Network, (CRSN), Cross River Coalition For Justice, (CRCFJ), and Arise for Local Government Autonomy, (AFLGA), have given the Governor of the State, Prof Ben Ayade, a 14-day ultimatum to begin the process of conducting local government election in the state or they will take to the streets in protest.
Speaking to journalists in Cross River State on behalf of the NGOs, Comrade Emmanuel Agbor said the PDP administration led by Gov Ben Ayade has failed the people as he has refused to conduct local government elections since the last set of council chairmen and councillors elected during the administration of former Governor Liyel Imoke ended their tenure in 2016.
The groups condemned what they described as the undemocratic behaviour of the ruling PDP by refusing to institute democratic structure at the local government level.
He wondered why Governor Ben Ayade, who prides himself as a democrat, would find it difficult conducting local government elections since he became governor in 2015, but has resorted to appointing civil servants as heads of local government administration (HOLGA) who have been running the councils to the detriment of Cross Riverians.
Agbor, who is the coordinator of Arise for Local Government Autonomy, AFLGA, said: “We have endured the PDP for too long. We cannot continue in this undemocratic manner when we claim to be a democratic party. This is the auspicious time for us to rise up and be counted in this struggle to rescue the local government.
“If in the next few months the PDP government refuses to democratize the grassroots administration, we shall employ all legal means to get the right things done.”
On his part, the state Chairman of APC, Mr John Ochala, told journalists that: “It is unimaginable that Governor Ben Ayade could not conduct council election and rather rationalizing that the councils are not buoyant enough to sustain itself.”
Ochala continued, “APC is committed to enthroning a democratic culture at the local level and giving the people the freedom to choose who leads them.
“The withholding of local govt funds is a welcome development. It is what our party have been canvassing for all along. It is the only way the state governors will be compelled to conduct local government elections.
“It’s unfortunate that the country has degenerated to the level where governors will display so much contempt for the very system that brought them to power,” he stated.
When our correspondent called the PDP State Chairma,n Ntufam Edim Inok on phone for comments as he was not in the office, he failed to pick his calls. Similarly, the permanent secretary Ministry of information, Aye Henshaw, could not be reached on phone.