The Chairman of the Cross River State Independent Electoral Commission, CROSIEC, Dr Mike Ushie, has said the Commission adopted COVID-19 and the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) protocols and guidelines in the conduct of the local government election in the state on Saturday, May 30, 2020.
Dr Ushie, in a chat with our reporter while the elections were still ongoing, commended all voters and stakeholders, including the media, for their contribution in making the exercise a success, and noted that there was no case of violence or ballot snatching.
He said, “I must thank Cross Riverians for their patience because we kept postponing, suspending the election. You know we in Cross River State are used to this local government election, so we were determined to have the election in line with Independent National Electrical Commission’s (INEC) guidelines and COVID -19 protocols.
“We ensured that before you enter the venue you must have your face mask, someone is positioned to give you the hand sanitizers to use and tap buckets provided for you to wash your hands. We observed queuing and never allowed people to cluster to make sure that personal distance was observed.”
On the issue of some political parties pulling out of the election, the CROSIEC boss said: “the issue of pulling out, boycott was not there as people and five parties participated. I must say that as early as 8am our materials were everywhere out there except where we had logistic delay which is normal like a vehicle break down but I must say that we got it right.
“Now collation has started in many areas because election started from 8.30 to 3pm then the rest is collation. The next thing now is the declaration of results and from 10am on Sunday we will start to declare the results”.
The election, which was conducted after eight years of lull in such exercise witnessed a fair turn out and was violence free.
As early as 8.30 am, most of the polling units were ready with voters turning out in their numbers to do accreditation and vote. The turnout was however massive in Bakassi, Calabar and few other areas.
PillarToday reporters, who were on ground to monitor the election, submitted that voters observed strict Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic procedures laid down by CROSIEC in line with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) guidelines for the conduct of the elections in the state and others.
Voters who came out in their numbers besieged their respective polling units from Bakassi to Obanliku with their face maskss and conducted themselves orderly by observing social distancing requirements.
In Calabar South ward 12, polling unit 9, electoral officers were already stationed as early as 8:47 am and all materials required for the success of the exercise were available for voters and everything went on accordingly.
At Calabar Municipality Ward 4, polling unit 15, the turnout was quite impressive as at 1 pm and the exercise was conducted peacefully, and in Ekorinim 1 Primary school, the exercise was peaceful with a fair turn out.
In Ward 6, at Ishie Primary School Annex in Calabar Municipal, no challenge was observed and all the materials came in as scheduled.
Some of the voters interviewed said the exercise was free and fair and commended CROSIEC for doing a good job, expressing hope that same free and fair approach would be replicated at collation centre and during results announcements.
One of the voters in Calabar Municipality, Okon Effanga said, “with what we are seeing on ground, we expect the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to have a clean sweep considering the fact that All Progressives Congress (APC), the main opposition party entered the race with a divided house”.
Recall that a faction of the APC led by Sir John Ochala had pulled out of the race saying the processes were not followed lawfully, but the Godwin Etim John faction fully participated in the exercise eventhough the faction did not fill candidates in all the 18 Chairmanship positions and the 196 councilorship positions in the wards.