Abia senatorial rerun: Race of the titans

Chief Orji Ozor Kalu
Chief Orji Ozor Kalu

The Abia North Senatorial rerun election,which holds today, has heightened the curiosity of the electorate. Musa Odoshimokhe reviews the situation and the chances of the candidates.

Abia North Senatorial rerun, fixed for today, has generated lots of interests. This is hinged on the weight of the candidates jostling for the mandate of the people.

The March 2015 election was won by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)Mao Ohuabunwa, but his victory was terminated by the Appeal Court.

Those to watch in the rerun are the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate, David Onuoha-Bourdex; the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) candidate, Orji Uzor Kalu; the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Nnenna Okoro and Labour Party (LP)candidate, Nwakwu Orji.

They have intensified their campaigns to convince voters of what they would do for the senatorial zone when elected. Stakeholders, party faithful and other interest groups are keenly following the outcome of the rerun. They are of the view that Abia North Senatorial zone is in dire need of a redeemer.

The secretary of Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Menelik Ukpai, said the zone may not need a superlative senator but it certainly does not need a lawmaker trying to learn the rope and will sit at the red chamber only to support the proposal of others during debate.

He said: “We believe that those who are currently vying for the senatorial seat in Abia North on various platforms are well-meaning citizens; many of them have found success in other fields of endeavour. However, we need experience people in lawmaking to represent the zone.”

Today’s election would be successful if the stakeholders play by the rule of the game. In the build up to the rerun, APGA candidate Onuoha-Boudex caution against acts capable of undermining the electoral process.

He said the PPA candidate, Kalu, was heating the polity and there was need for him to change his campaign method. According to him, “The former governor must desist from practices that could cause confusion, undermine the transparency or precipate crisis in the senatorial zone.”

But, those in camp of the former governor said the APGA candidate was merely chasing shadow, stressing that there was no iota of truth in his claim.

Defending the former governor, PPA chieftain, Benjamin Kalu, said the party’s candidate is coasting to victory. He said: “Orji Uzor Kalu will perform more than any other person aspiring to represent Abia North in the Senate based on his past experience.”

The PPA chieftain maintained that the former governor has contributed remarkably to the growth of Abia. “Kalu is a household name having served in the House of Representatives from 1992 -1993, during which he moved the famous Dual Citizenship Right Bill. He was Deputy Chairman House Committee on Finance and Internal Affairs.”

The rerun made the parties to throw banters at one another; a situation which compelled the electorate to demand additional security during the poll.

Abia State PDP chairman, Senator Emma Nwaka, said the party is not relenting in its effort to bounce back. He cautioned that trouble makers should stay away from the poll, noting that PDP does not believe in violence. “I want to urge the voters to conduct themselves orderly. I must say anyone who intends to forwent trouble should desist from such act because security operatives are on the red alert.”

To avoid a repeat of what happened in the last election which was characterised by irregularities, analysts said INEC and security must live up to their duty.

It was in view of the irregularities observed during the election that the PPA’s candidate had his prayers at the Appeal Court answered.

Justice I.G Mbaba of the Appeal Court during judgment noted that “It is better for a fresh election which would be transparent and credible conducted than allow the one that produced the PDP candidate as winner to subsist. It was marred by fraud and the result mutilated.”

Political observers said the rerun is an opportunity to elect a competent hand who will fight to correct the plight of the people. Abia North has suffered lots of neglect with cases of erosion and washed away farmlands visible.

A stakeholder, Orji Eke, the coordinator of Mandate for Good Governance in Abia North (MAGGN), said the people yearn for change and would vote only those that can bring the change. He said: “Abia North people yearn for change and they see the candidate of the APC, Nnenna Lancaster-Okoro, as the better candidate. She is the most outstanding one that can redouble the pace of progress Abia North needed at this point.

“Majority of the electorate see her as the symbol of change that would transform and connect the zone to the centre politics. We cannot afford to be watching from the sideline in this dispensation,” he said.

Political observers said the electoral fraud that was the order in the last election would have no place this time around. They noted that the change mantra of the President Muhammadu Buhari led government is already having rippled effect. “Some of the agencies including those the PDP had used in the last election have been neutralised, those who compromised in the rerun election would face the law.”

The candidates have done their beat during the campaigns. The outcome of the poll will go a long way to show who actually touched the heart of the people. The electorate expect nothing short of performance at the Red Chamber. (The Nation)

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