The Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, on Monday charged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct free and fair elections in 2023.
The governor, who made the call when the state’s new Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr. Cyril Omoregbe, visited him at the Government House in Calabar, described credible elections as the catalyst for national unity and antidote to voters’ apathy.
He urged the commission to be wary of desperate lobbyists and politicians in the run-up to the elections.
Ayade said: “We must go through the 2023 elections in peace under your superintendence. You must have the conscience to do that which is fair as politicians will always seek to lobby and subvert the will of the people.
“Politics involves lobbying and persuasion for somebody to do your bidding, and which comes in different forms. But the moral that guides your conscience and actions should determine how you handle such situation.”
“When the outcome of an election is not free and fair, voters feel they wasted their time voting and may not vote next time.”
He urged INEC to make fairness its watchword.
The governor reiterated his unwavering belief in the unity of Nigeria, saying that separation was not the solution to the myriad of challenges facing the country.
“I preach peace, because even if you split this country and the South and North go their separate ways, the South will go with its own conflicts and the North will go with its own conflicts.
He added: “The reality, therefore, is that the oneness of this country is the way to go.”
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