From Kenneth Udeh, Abuja
Ahead of next week’s House of Representatives by-election for the vacant seat of Aba North/South federal constituency, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abia State has stepped up its campaign for its candidate, Hon Mascot Uzor Kalu, the party also resolving to centre its campaign on infrastructure and social welfare, stating that it won’t be distracted by what it described as a ‘campaign of calumny’ by its main rival, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), in the state.
The decisions were made at the expanded caucus of the APC in Abia State, where it converged in Aba to formally pass their vote of confidence and endorse the candidature of its flag bearer for the March 27 by-election.
The meeting, consisting of party stalwarts, was, according to the caucus, is to show the party’s unity and readiness to win the upcoming rerun election.
The meeting was hosted at the Aba residence of the former Minister of Labour and Productivity, Barr Emeka Wogu.
Those present at the well-attended meeting included: State Chairman of the Party Hon Donatus Nwankpa; State Secretary of the Party Perfect Okorie; Chairman of the Caucus Senator Orji Uzor Kalu; Spokesperson of the House of Representatives Hon Benjamin Kalu; Deputy Chief Whip of the House of Representatives Hon Nkeiruka Onyejeocha; Senator Nkechi Nwaogwu; Former Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly Hon Martins Azubuike; Minister of State for Mine and Steel
Dr Hon Uchechukwu S Ogah; Minority Leader of the Abia House of Assembly Hon Chijioke Chukwu; Former Chief of Army Staff Gen Azubike Ihejirika; Barr KC Ugboaja; Former Abia Speaker Hon Stanley Ohajuruka; Senator Chris Adighije; DIG Azubuike Udah; Dr Chidia Maduekwe; Senator Nkechi Nwaogu; Hon Acho Obioma, Senator Bob Nwannunu; Hon Stanley Ohajuruka; Hon Uche Ogboso; Hon Chibuzor Okogbuo; Barr Fabian Nwosu; Hon Emeka Oroafor; Hon Nnana Uzor Kalu; Former Commissioner of Finance in Abia State Obinna Oriaku; Hon Anyim Nyerere; and Chief Marc Wabara, among others.
In his opening remarks, caucus chairman Senator Orji Uzor Kalu disclosed that the party will not digress from its manifestos, which, he explained, centre on facilitating infrastructure and human capacity development to the people of Aba North/South federal constituency.
The Senate Chief Whip added that the APC would not be distracted by what he called the propaganda of the PDP against the APC during the campaign period, noting that the caucus has outlined its people-oriented infrastructure and welfare programmes which, according to him, will be executed within the first year of its candidate Mascot Kalu election into office.
‘The caucus met today to ratify our support for our candidate for Hon Mascot Uzor Kalu,’ Senator Kalu said. ‘This election is not about sponsoring propaganda; we expect Ikpeazu, Abaribe and the PDP to tell the people of Aba what they have done for them but, unfortunately, there is none.
‘Despite the fact that our party, the APC, is not governing the state, we have done a lot to improve the lives of the people, and we can do more if we are elected into office beginning with Aba North/South.’
Highlighting the achievements of the APC in the state, Senator Kalu said:
‘The Ariaria Market 9.5 MW gas-based power plant for an uninterrupted power supply being enjoyed today by Abians provided possible by the APC government, the loans, grants and intervention funds the Abia people are receiving are issued by the APC government and not PDP and Ikpeazu.
‘The Rural Women Grant our women received in Abia State funds from the APC government, the N30,000 Artisans and Transport Operators support fund came from President Buhari and the APC, not from Ikpeazu and his PDP; even the Enyimba Economic City is being spearheaded by the APC government. So, Abia PDP has done absolutely nothing for the people. I urge you all to come out and vote them out by voting massively for the APC.
‘Today, we have outlined our programmes and manifestos. As we go through this campaign, we will tell the people our plans and the achievements of the APC in Abia State and the entire South-East. As a formidable party with a people-oriented agenda, we have gathered here today to stand as one united family as we move into this election.’
Former Abia South Senatorial Candidate Sir Marc Wabara described the large turnout at the meeting as indicative of the party’s readiness to win the by-election.
‘We have assembled to signify that the election of March 27 will be a defining moment for the APC in Abia State and, more importantly, the people,’ he declared.
‘We take this election very seriously, more like a state election. We are coming individually and collectively to support our candidate and we are putting our trust in God that we shall come out victorious.’
Amb Sam Nkire, Chairman of the Abia South caucus, said that the party is committed to establishing its foothold in Aba South.
‘APC has come of age in Abia State; the party has a senator and three members of the House of Representatives and the State [House of] Assembly and none of them come from Abia South. So, for us in Abia South APC having a foothold here in our zone is a task that must be accomplished. We believe that by the time APC wins this zone, then we can now move forward to taking over the state in 2023,’ he stated.
‘Mascot is as good as any Ngwa man. He was born here in Aba and all the projects and programmes he has will be executed here in Aba North/South.
‘He was not imposed, he contested for the ticket at a well organised primary election and he won; so, everyone should queue behind him and give him the maximum support.’
Stating the gains of voting for the party, APC Abia Chairman Hon Donatus Nwankpa explained that the Aba zone will benefit enormously by having a member of Nigeria’s ruling party as its representative.
‘Our party must deliver,’ he said. ‘It shows our collective and corporate desire to demonstrate that this election belongs to all of us and our candidate is acceptable by all. The difference of having a party at the centre taking over Aba North/South is enormous because it will spur development, infrastructure and the federal presence in Aba.’
Expressing his gratitude for their support, party flagbearer Mascot Uzor Kalu said that he was humbled by their gesture and commitment, resolving that he will not disappoint if elected into office.
‘We cannot afford to lose this election. This is not about Mascot Kalu but for the APC and the generality of the good people of Aba North and Aba South and the entire state. I am only a beneficiary of the process. The struggle begins next week. We cannot continue to negotiate for 25% when we can actually get 100% by the time we align with the party at the centre. I thank you all for your support. I urge us all to come out en masse, let’s make our footprints,’ the candidate said.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the caucus headed for an engagement with the Old Bende Progressive Union, where they campaigned for the candidate. The party also warned against rigging or violence during the election.