BY JOHNBOSCO AGBAKWURU
Opposition political parties in Cross River State are set to challenge the eligibility of the governorship, National and State Assembly candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the April general elections if the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) goes ahead to recognize them.
The State Chairman of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Prince Martin Bisong, who dropped this hint shortly after the party’s state affirmation congress in Calabar, said this was because the Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC for the state, Mr. Mike Ighini, had alleged that the party did not follow the due process in the conduct of its primaries.
Bisong said for the PDP in the state to have set aside due process in the conduct of its ward congresses and delegates elections, the party had given the opposition cause to challenge the eligibility of its candidates for the April general elections and afterward.
According to him, informed members of the public and opposition parties are waiting to see how the INEC would reverse itself on the call on the PDP to do the right thing, stressing that they were aware that the PDP rather than heed this advice, poured invectives on the INEC boss.
He said the REC had faulted his party’s (ANPP) conduct of its wards congress and delegates election and ordered for a fresh exercise which was obeyed, adding that regrettably the party in power (PDP) had proved to be above the law.
Prince Bisong said: ‘’It is a shame that the PDP did not follow due process. As far as we in the opposition are concerned, the PDP in Cross River State has no candidates for the April polls. Those parading themselves as candidates should wait for us.
They cannot disobey the law and hope to be in power. My candid advice to the PDP is that it should do the right thing. That party is used to doing things the wrong way. They cannot do everything wrong all the time and get away with it. Certainly it is not above the instruction of INEC, which observed all wards congresses and delegates elections conducted by other political parties in the state.’’
The ANPP state chairman, who described the ANPP as a well organized and law abiding party that would not disobey the law as it leads by example equally refuted claims that ANPP in the state was comatose noting that what the party had been advocating for over the years was free and fair elections.
He explained that the party had credible candidates that could fetch it victory contrary to public opinion adding that ANPP has the grassroots as its support base and have continued to create awareness at that level for support and how to guide against rigging in the forthcoming elections.
The opposition leader revealed that the problem facing parties outside the reins of power was apathy of voters caused by the way and manner elections are conducted in the country. ‘’ People have become disillusioned, but we want to change that by sensitizing and mobilizing them to register to vote in the April election as that is the only way we can bring about the desired change in our state’’, he added.
But the state chairman of PDP Ntufam Ekpo Okon has refuted allegations that his party set aside known convention in the election of delegates for all its primary elections, adding that INEC which was now crying foul, was duly invited and it supervised the said elections and wondered why the electoral umpire would turn around to order for another exercise.
He expressed reservations that Mr. Igini, a veteran civil rights activist was bringing activism into his job. He said that the PDP as a law abiding party could not have conducted its primaries if delegates did not emerge through due process.
Okon called on PDP members to participate actively in the ongoing voter’s registration exercise and mobilize members of the public to register to qualify to vote.
Meanwhile, unconfirmed report has it that the PDP is planning to challenge the decision of INEC not to recognize the names of candidates that emerged at the party’s primaries in the court. Though the party has sealed lips on the matter, it was gathered that having made frantic efforts to see that the presidency waded into the matter all to no avail, the court is the last option.
The party through its chairman Ntufam Okon had bragged that the result of the State and National Assemblies primaries was sacrosanct.
Political observers see PDP’s stand-off as unnecessary pride that may cause the party its candidates.