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2023: You must give us free, fair elections – Gov Ayade tasks INEC

Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, has described free and fair elections as the catalyst for national unity and an antidote against voters apathy.

Ayade, who spoke at the Conference Hall of the ’s Office, Calabar, while playing host to the new Cross River State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Cyril Omoregbe, urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be wary of desperate lobbyists and politicians and not allow itself to be compromised.

“We must go through the 2023 elections in peace under your superintendence. You must, therefore, have the moral conscience to do that which is fair as politicians will always seek to lobby and subvert the will of the people,” the governor said.

He reminded the new REC that “ involves lobbying and persuasion for somebody to do your bidding. And persuasion comes in different forms but the moral that guides your conscience and actions should determine how you handle such situation.”

According to him, when the outcome of an election is not free and fair, voters tend to feel they wasted their time voting and may not vote next time, adding, “therefore, if there is anything I ask of you, it is just fairness.”

The Cross River State Governor used the occasion to reiterate his unwavering belief in the unity of the Nigeria, saying separation was not the solution to the country’s myriad of challenges.

“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. The reality therefore, is that the oneness of this country is the way to go.”

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Earlier in his speech, Omorogbe assured that INEC was committed to free and fair elections and appealed to residents of the state who have attained voting age to “come out and register during the second quarter of the continuous Voter registration exercise which begins on October 4, 2021 and ends on December 20, 2021”

He charged Nigerians to assist the commission to eliminate electoral fraud in the system by identifying ineligible registrants on the list during the display of voters register.

According to Dr. Omoregbe, ineligible registrants include foreigners and Nigerians below the age of 18.

The new REC disclosed that in Cross River, display of Preliminary Register will take place in the 18 local government offices of the commission spread across the I8 council areas in the state.

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