Kenneth Udeh, Abuja
As the December 18th Abia Local Government elections draws 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 polls were 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 the conduct of the Local Government polls, raising concerns that anything less than credible election might set the recipe for a resurgence of violent protests in the state.
The NASS leadership drawn from members of both the Senate and House of Representatives elected under the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC),implored the State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu to emulate President President Muhammadu Buhari who kept his word by ensuring a free, fair and peaceful election in Edo State. The Abia lawmakers 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 the NASS APC 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 Onyejeocha 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 are now better informed stating that people would not tolerate any form of electoral malpractice.
She said; “The issue is not just about trust but simply about the people who have to elect those that will represent them. 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 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 allow them fron 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 in his remark charged the State Governor to emulate President Buhari’s commitment in the conduct of 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 react by dealing with electoral officers involved in malpractices.
In his words; “My own 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 is 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 as usual .
“They saw what President Buhari did in Edo State , he allowed a free and fair election to go on, they defeated our party and we accepted the defeat . So I want to appeal to them, 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, I will do so.
“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 party in the APC looses we shall congratulate them, but we must lose by due process. The materials would be an issue and I want to 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 which we don’t want to happen. We want them to do the right thing with the cooperation of security agencies , everybody will be satisfied.” said Kalu