…As Kalu, Onuoha,Ohuabunwa fight for Senate seat tomorrow
By Iheanacho Nwosu
All is now set for tomorrow’s Abia North senatorial district re-run. The frenzy that envelops the senatorial district conveys, strongly, the high value residents attach to the exercise.
In all the nooks and crannies of the five local councils that make up the senatorial district, the air is animated with activities, ahead of tomorrow’s poll. But for inscriptions on the posters of the contestants, it is difficult to differentiate the atmosphere which currently pervades the district from the one that prevails during presidential or governorship elections.
The three main contestants in the election are Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA) candidate and former governor of the state, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate, Dr David Ogba Onuoha popularly known as Bourdex and Chief Mao Ohuabunwa of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP). The latter held sway as the senator of the district before the Court of Appeal (Owerri Division) quashed his election and ordered the Independent
National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a rerun.
To a large extent, the trio are evenly matched which accounts for the huge interest that many people show in the election. For some, the claim that the three contestants have near equal chances is debatable but facts on the ground supports such argument. For instance, the trio ran a successful campaign deploying huge resources to ensure they sell their candidacy. That was only possible because they all boast of deep pockets and broad financial chest. While Kalu has a large business empire and, of course had no qualm raising resources for his campaign, Bourdex is a telecommunication investor and guru. He comfortably and effortlessly funded his campaign. In the case of Ohuabunwa, though he is not known to be a high net-worth individual, he had huge resources to play with, courtesy of the former governor of the state, Theodore Orji, his son, Chinedu, officials of the state government and PDP governors. Indeed, in the last count, each candidate is believed to have spent nothing less than N1 billion each, in mobilising people, printing of posters and billboards and other logistics.
So far, there is little to complain about tomorrow’s election. The candidates and their parties ran campaigns devoid of violence. Many expect such atmosphere to still reign during voting. Sure, it will only reign if officials of government abide by the guidelines of INEC which barred them from visiting collation centres.
Tomorrow’s rerun would have been avoided if desperation was not given a pride of place in the March 28 2015 National Assembly election by the former administration of the state. The Theodore Orji government threw decency to the wind and employed despicable means and measures to ensure that PDP won. The Appeal Court anchored its decision to nullify the election on many odious happenings during the election. Ohuabunwa, who benefitted from the sham faulted the ruling but other contestants and majority of the electorate in the district thumped up for it.
Kalu had said: “It is a victory for democracy aimed at restoring the people’s will, which was trampled upon through the abuse of fleeting power by those who thought they could mortgage the conscience of Abians. What the Appeal Court has succeeded in doing is the liberation of Abians from the shackles of authoritarianism and the associated power rascality.”
Massive expectations are trailing tomorrow’s exercise. One of them is that there should not be a replay of the shenanigans that held sway on March 28, 2015. Security agents must ensure that all the contestants enjoy a level playing ground during and after the election.
Beyond that, not a few expect Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu not to taint his political reputation by accepting to use instrument of office to aid desperadoes. The Abia North rerun should be used to send a strong signal that the era of manipulating the will of the people is gone.
Yes, the governor has a right to support anybody, but it must be done within the ambit of the law. That is the only way history will be kind to him when the story is told years after.