As the December 18th Abia Local Government elections draw nearer the state Government, as well as the Abia State Independent Electoral Commission (ABSIEC), have been cautioned by the National Assembly(NASS) that the state may witness another wave of #EndSars protests if the election was not credible.
The NASS leadership also urged the State Government and the Chairman of ABSIEC, Prof Mkpa Agu Mkpa to uphold the tenets of democracy in conducting the Local Government polls, raising concerns that anything short of credible polls might set the recipe for a resurgence of violent protests in the state.
The NASS leadership drawn from the membership of both the Senate and the House of Representatives elected under the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) implored the State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu to emulate President Muhammadu Buhari who kept his word towards ensuring a free, fair, and peaceful election in Edo State. They emphasised that though the ruling party lost the election the result was accepted and it was adjudged peaceful and credible.
Rising from a crucial meeting in Abuja the NASS APC, which had the presence of the Chief Whip of the Senate; Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, Spokesperson of the House of Representatives, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, Deputy Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Hon. Nkeiru Onyejeocha, Deputy Minority Leader Abia House of Assembly, Hon. Chukwu Chijioke and Hon Emeka Okoroafor disclosed to reporters that the APC in the state were ready and willing to participate in the election.
Speaking on the outcome of the meeting, Hon. Benjamin disclosed that APC members met to strategise and to also ascertain the position of the Senate Chief Whip, Senator Kalu being the leader of the party in the state if the party would be participating in the election.
In his words: ” We believe that we have a leadership structure in Abia State as the election for Local Government for councillors and Chairmanship is fast approaching. We decided that it is proper that we come and discuss with the Chief Whip to know his position whether or not the party will be fully participating in the election.
He continued “It is normal for people to start electioneering campaign at the grassroots but you needed the nod of the leader for us to hit harder and today we have gotten that. We have deliberated on our concerns we have also strategised going forward.
“This is not the end of the meeting, we are going to meet severally and Abia people are going to feel our impact because the engine room of the party in the state is actually within this area and the people you are seeing here today. We going to make sure that we galvanize and network we going to make sure that our voice is heard in the coming election.
On her part Hon Nkeiru harped on the urgent need for the state Governor and the ABSIEC to ensure that the polls were free and fair; she expressed that electorates were better informed stating that people would not tolerate any form of electoral malpractice.
She said; “The issue is not about trust but very simple, the people have to elect those that will represent them and all of us have gone through elections and we know when an election is free, fair and credible. That is what the APC is saying is that if the State Government wants to conduct local government elections.
“I don’t care what has been happening before. It will shock you that we have credible information that the Governor said he is going to conduct a free, fair and credible election and that is why they are going through primaries.
“So for me, it’s not an issue of trust we have to have faith in the system and show our readiness that we are going to have this election. We are pushing and also supporting them to do the right thing, no matter who wins; if someone from PDP wins we shall support the person, and if someone from APC wins we shall also support the person.
“We are not going to prevent them from conducting this election in previous ways, it’s no longer game as usual. Things are changing and of course, if you can see what had happened early this month when the youths protested. These are people that you initially took for granted that they were not going to speak out; so everyone is speaking out and I believe that the Government should know that this is not a time to do things the same way and so Abia people are believing that their leader here will push for free, fair credible election and I know that things are changing and I am sure that the Government will do the needful.
Senator Kalu; also charged the State Governor to emulate President Buhari’s commitment in the conduct of the Edo election; though APC being the ruling party lost the election it was adjudged free and fair.
The Chief Whip emphasised that though the state has enjoyed peace under the state Governor, the people may result in violence by dealing with electoral officers involved in malpractices.
In his words; “My advice to the state Governor and professor Mpka is for them to do the right thing so that we shall continue to live in peace in our state. I am appealing to them and I would appeal to the; commissioner of police, the director of State Security Service, and other security agencies in the state to make sure that they put adequate security in place on the 18th of December. My only appeal to the ABSIEC chairman and the Governor to provide all the required materials so it will be authenticated by all parties and nothing less than that will be done. They know Nigeria is not the same and it’s not going to be the same.
They saw what President Buhari did in Edo State, he allowed for a free and fair election to go on, they defeated our party and we accepted the defeat. So I want to appeal to them even if it means that I lead a peaceful march to go and appeal to the Governor in the state and the Chairman of ABSIEC to do the right thing by conducting a free, fair, and credible election.
We just want the right thing to be done, it is not a warning, it is an appeal. In five years of Governor Okezie’s tenure, the state has been peaceful and there has been no bloodshed, we should continue living in peace and it’s a good example of democratic process. The beauty of democracy is that somebody must lose.
If we as a party in the APC loses we shall congratulate them, but we must lose by due process. The materials would be an issue and I warn their electoral and returning officers to follow due process because the boys might pursue them to their houses if they don’t do the right thing or even purse their families which we don’t want to happen. We want them to do the right thing and with the cooperation of security agencies, everybody will be satisfied.”