Abia North: Time for vigilance and corrections, by Peter Ogbonna Eze

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INEC-boxThere is no single day that comes without a new story. Each successive one distinct from the one that preceded it, galloping over each other like equestrian show, standing proof of the dynamism of human nature. And as humanity continues to exist, news, both expected and unexpected will continue to rend the air in both mundane and dramatic ways.

The national news at the moment is that the Court of Appeal sitting in Owerri has practically stirred the political hornets nest in Abia State. Cold shivers have gripped politicians whose elective closets are rattling with multiple skeletons of manipulations, duplicity, thuggery and pervasion of the democratic process. Some lawmakers, by the unprecedented rulings witnessed during the last few days are holding their breaths, wondering when the lengthy arm of the law will turn into a fist and deliver a knockout blow.

While the winners hailed the court’s judgment, the losers, whose elections were nullified, felt their victory was shortchanged, despite the court’s strong basis of the multiple sackings, on the grounds of gross electoral misconduct, irregularities and conspicuous result mutilation.

The rulings, however, may not be surprising to many Nigerians, who differently, and in their vociferous and silent voices in the past, accentuated their witnesses and dissatisfactions in the manipulations that trailed the last general elections in many quarters and parts of the country.

In Rivers State, the petitioners, the APC, in their celebration of victory, described the judgment as victory for the masses who voted at the March 28, National Assembly elections. Also, a sympathizer and supporter said that truth, which is essential in the quest for justice, has prevailed.

In Anambra State, the Appeal Court, on sacking Mrs. Uche Ekwunife, the PDP candidate, consequent upon the suit filed by Sir Victor Umeh of the APGA, described the lower court ruling (tribunal) as a perverse judgment, which cannot stand.

In his reaction to the victory, Umeh said that it was clearly an act of God, and that PDP died the day Jonathan lost election. He further added that PDP should cover itself with blan- ket of shame, and that at the tribunal, they were being laughed at, but today, it is PDP that is covered with shame.

His supporters were seen dancing in elation while expressing optimism that the impunity and recklessness the PDP used in winning the first election would be cut to size during the rerun.

Similar feelings and confessions were re- corded in constituencies that the Appeal Court showed their dissatisfaction in the manner in which the general elections were conducted across different states. Although some, including Former Senate President David Mark, while accepting his fate, was nevertheless hopeful of winning a rerun election in his constituency.

Others who were caught in the middle of the ocean, though expectedly, are still wishing to have had an opportunity of contesting the judgment but which unfortunately, is very impossible and in accordance with the provision of law on National Assembly electoral matters.

For instance, the Court of Appeal judgment in respect of the Abia North senatorial district, nullified the election of Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, citing irregularities and result mutilation, and consequently ordered for a rerun within 90 days from the date the delivery of its widely popular judgment. Accordingly and expectedly, Ohuabunwa’s counsel expressed displeasure and discontent over the judgment. Out of emotions, he declared his disagreement with the rulings but disclosed that it’s still not the worst scenario as all the parties involved would have to go back to the drawing board.

In some streets of Umuahia,Aba,Arochukwu, Igbere and some other constituencies that make up Abia North, it was jubilation galore. The youths who took to the streets for celebration on hearing the outcome of the judgment, could not curtail their joy as they danced uncontrollably, singing worship songs that depict signs of Zionic victory.

The wide jollification in honour of Dr Orji UzorKalu, the PPA candidate in the election, and a former presidential aspirant, makes it worthy of remembering a popular saying that “there are many qualities of a great leader, but another is a rare gift from God-to be blessed with the love of his people”. A great leader might be feared or shown loyalty, but to be truly loved by his people is something every leader aspires to achieve. Kalu’s victory foretells all that it’s for the masses and no other.

Indeed, the open merrymaking is enough to make one imagine the level of happiness the Israelites experienced after their freedom from captivity. Citizens of Abia North, especially the youths must have joined the solemn prayers of the Israelites, saying: ”When the LORD restored the captives of Zion.

We thought we were dreaming.Then our mouths were filled with laughter; our tongues sang for joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord had done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us; oh, how happy we were! Restore our captives, LORD, like the dry stream beds of the Neged.

Those who sow in tears will reap with cries of joy. Those who go forth weeping, carrying sacks of seed, will return with cries of joy, carrying their bundled sheaves.” The above biblical prayer of lamentation was sung shortly after the people of Israel’s return from exile. The Israelites were rejoicing that they are back to Zion but then, mere presence in the holy city is not enough; and that’s why they also prayed for divine intervention, prosperity and fertility of the land.

What the youths of Abia State who couldn’t hide their joy over Orji Kalu’s unprecedented victory did, can’t be said to be unexpected. Although, in the past, while some considered these people’s dream of electing a Senator of their choice in the last general election a mere wishful thinking, others considered it a 100 per cent realistic dream, but it’s fair we let the activities and power game that almost dashed the people’s hope to remain in the past and welcome the golden opportunity of putting things right.

Even in his reaction, Kalu simply said that the victory is a verdict for democracy aimed at restoration of the people’s will. He added that the Appeal Court has succeeded in the liberation of Abians from the shackles of authoritarianism and the associated power of rascality. And indeed, it is for democracy, where the people’s will should be prioritized. Apparently, the continuous jubilation invariably speaks volumes about what obviously is expected of during the rerun. The people of Abia North, having remained sad about the sorry state of their zone, despite having a representative in the last seven months is a call for them to simply take their destiny by their own hands, and do the needful.

Although, few misguided Abians, and as expected, might not readily embrace quality representation as needed, mainly because of sentiments and misconception. But not- withstanding, it is obvious that one needs no megaphone to remind Abians that the obscure and poor representation of the sacked senator is not what the people need now, not just at this moment.

With Kalu, the sadness of the people will be lifted coupled with his persistent sense of optimism about a brighter future for Abia North. It is worthy of note to recall that credibility of good representation can be only established through action and not words, and Kalu in his leadership prowess and as the popular ‘Action Governor’, has ‘action and delivery’as his key concern and mission.

It is time for the people of Abia North to convince the world of their willingness to embrace excellent representation qualified by tangible output. Again, Kalu’s victory will not just be for his senatorial district but as previously observed in these pages, will be a victory for the Igbo nation.

It is indeed time to troop out en masse and defend the desire and will of Abians. It is not time to simply conclude in the confines of one’s comfort that Kalu will emerge winner as expected, considering his antecedents, popularity and acceptance by his people, but time to pronounce it with a vote for him.

  • Eze writes from Abuja (Source: Daily Sun_

 

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