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When will acrimonious post-election litigations end in Abia State? – John Okiyi Kalu

 

After the declaration of Abia State governorship election result by INEC, I hoped and prayed that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s major opponents, Uche Ogah and Alex Otti, would be magnanimous enough to call and congratulate him and allow Abia State move forward.

My optimism was premised on the fact that prior to the polls the contestants signed a peace accord and in several private pre-election conversations I had with friends in the camps of those two men there appeared to be consensus that whoever was declared winner of the election would not have to contend with the usual acrimonious litigations associated with Abia elections.

Knowing the atrocious cost of recurrent post-election litigations to my state, I earnestly prayed to God that Governor Ikpeazu would win with landslide margins to ensure that there would be no need to contest the outcome of the polls.

God answered the first part of my prayer after Governor Ikpeazu was declared winner with landslide margins as follows:

ABIA SOUTH SENATORIAL DISTRICT

ABA NORTH

APC – 4,209
APGA – 6,216
PDP – 8,429

ABA SOUTH

APC – 5,418
APGA- 6,802
PDP – 5,256

UGWUNAGBO

APC – 1,865
APGA – 1,054
PDP – 22,083

UKWA EAST

APC – 1,447
APGA – 1,935
PDP – 3,819

UKWA WEST

APC – 3,140
APGA -2,270
PDP – 11,602

OBINGWA

APC – 3,390
APGA – 2,679
PDP – 78,803

Total for Abia South

APC – 19,469
APGA – 20,956
PDP – 129,992

ABIA CENTRAL SENATORIAL DISTRICT

OSISIOMA

APC – 1,981
APGA – 2,298
PDP – 19,835

ISIALA NGWA SOUTH

APC – 1,569
APGA – 5,129
PDP – 19,672

ISIALA NGWA NORTH

APC – 2,404
APGA – 2,084
PDP – 19,209

UMUAHIA SOUTH

APC – 7,606
APGA – 4,502
PDP – 8,257

UMUAHIA NORTH

APC – 16,833
APGA- 2,878
PDP – 15,627

IKWUANO

APC – 5,619
APGA- 1,588
PDP – 6,285

Total for Abia Central

APC – 36,012
APGA – 18,479
PDP – 88,885

ABIA NORTH SENATORIAL DISTRICT

BENDE

APC – 12,172
APGA – 4,238
PDP – 7,265

AROCHUKWU

APC – 3,819
APGA – 8,924
PDP – 5,070

ISUIKWUATO

APC – 14,146
APGA – 1,696
PDP – 3,564

UMUNNEOCHI

APC – 7,238
PDP – 7,004
APGA – 3,190

OHAFIA

APC – 6,718
APGA – 6,883
PDP – 19,346

Total for Abia North

APC – 44,093
APGA – 24,931
PDP – 42,249

Grand Total for Abia State

APC – 99,574 (22.98%)
APGA- 64,366 (14.85%)
PDP – 261,127 (60.26%)

Void Votes – 11,061
Valid Votes – 433,315
Total Votes Cast – 444,376

With over 60% of valid votes cast during the polls, outright victory in 11 of 17 LGAs in the state and a close runner up in the remaining 6 LGAs, I expected that the opponents of the Governor would review the result conscientiously and do the needful by promptly congratulating the Governor. This should have been so specially in the light of their pre-election public and private boasts that they have INEC and security agencies in their pockets and they were ready to do their bidding.

Those who monitored the electioneering campaigns in Abia would wonder why those who boasted about using “federal might” and “red eyes” to unseat the Governor would suddenly start crying that INEC and federal might cheated them during the election especially knowing that the current Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of INEC and heads of security agencies in the state were appointed by the APC-led federal government.

Governor Ikpeazu ran under the umbrella of PDP.

Obviously, the only outcome that would have suited Otti or Ogah is one that favors either of them. That explains why Otti has rushed to the tribunal to demand for the cancellation of results from all the 15 LGAs where he lost, including those won by his latter day ally, Uche, while praying the tribunal to uphold the two LGAs where he won.

Apparently, Otti believes that Uche Ogah cheated in his home LGA, Isuikwuato, and the other three he (Uche) won.

According to the suit filed by Otti, it is perfectly okay for him to win Arochukwu his home LGA and Aba South where most of APGA supporters reside but not okay for Governor Ikpeazu to win his Obingwa LGA or the neighboring Osisioma and Ugwunagbo LGAs. Likewise he must have thought Uche Ogah cheated to win neighboring Bende, Umuahia North and Umunneochi LGAs where most of APC supporters reside but that Governor Ikpeazu should not have won Ohafia LGA where his Deputy, Sir Ude Oko Chukwu, three grade A Commissioners and a Deputy Chief of Staff hail from.

As we say in Abia, o di egwu, really!

I already know where each candidate won and how he won it. Otti won in his home zone while Ogah won in his own and Ikpeazu won in his own home zone. Just like I also know that election results reflect the will of those who actually came out to vote on Election Day as against how many people that promised to support you on Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and other social media platforms.

Nobody should teach me that if on election day you are unable to motivate and mobilize your voters to the polling units whereas your opponent who might even have less support is able to do so, you will surely LOSE and call press conferences of blame later.

I have also participated in Nigeria elections long enough to know that people make the mistake of predicting election outcomes on the basis of what they want or feel from their little corner. If you live in Ajegunle, Lagos, where most of those around you support PDP, for example, it is easy to imagine that PDP would have a landslide victory in the whole of Lagos state. That mindset was exactly why majority of blacks living in USA never believed Hillary could be defeated in 2016.

My major concern is the cost of the recurrent post-election litigations in Abia State since 1999. If only folks know how much those litigations have served to under-develop the state they will probably stone those wishing to take the state back to the court rooms. (But I don’t pray for anyone to be stoned)

1. No serious investor will put his hard earned money in a politically unstable environment unless he/she sell arms and ammunition, or is a Lawyer hoping to make a living. I need not list out the number of investors that failed to turn up in Abia because of the long political litigations and crises that followed the 2015 polls. One of them had to set up in a neighboring state where there was more socio-political stability and today his industrial concern is helping that state to deliver on jobs and improve IGR.

2. Private and public resources of Abia State will be wasted on these litigations in billions. Even if you are myopic enough to say those involved will use their private funds you are also losing sight of the alternative developmental application of the same funds for the benefit of our people. For instance, if Uche Ogah invests his own in his Uturu Factory, Abia will REJOICE while a sachet water production factory investment by Otti will be ENOUGH to employ, at least, 4 Abians.

Likewise, if Governor Ikpeazu uses his own resources to build a private university, after his tenure, Oke ga ezu na Abia.

3. The most atrocious cost of post-election litigations in Abia State come from the tendency of the litigants to fight each other in the media. Those fighting for Governor Ikpeazu’s job will certainly hire all kinds of media propagandists to demarket Abia State and his administration while his own team will certainly fight back and rubbish his opponents from head to toe. Already, since it emerged that Uche Ogah filed a petition against the Governor his media hirelings have launched acidic attacks on the Enyimba Economic City project as a scam. It does not even matter to them that if the project is realized, as it surely would, Abians and others who will benefit from it will not need to show their party cards before being hired or invest there. Not even the APC-led federal government’s practical support for the project matters to them as they have already made the point that the president was scammed to endorse the project. Sad!

Along with that, one can expect supporters of those in court to begin to highlight negative Abia stories by blowing situations like isolated cases of kidnapping out of proportion. All these they will do without minding the fact that courts rule on the basis of facts presented by litigants and not on the strength of propaganda and falsehood churned out in the media by opposition elements and when the courts eventually rule against them they would find comfort in lampooning the judges or joining Awara of Rivers State to claim that their fictional mandates were stolen.

4. Post-election litigations keep a state in perpetual electoral mode which is anti-development. The framers of our constitution understand the dangers of being in perpetual electoral mode and copiously ensured that a period must be designated for electioneering purposes to avoid distracting those elected from doing their work of managing statecraft without distractions.

When a state is in electoral mode, politics will infect every action of government and I know for a fact that it is difficult to have best outcomes from politically infected inputs. Whatever the impurity called politics touches it tends to destroy.

5. I have been in the public sector long enough to know that a leader must take tough decisions to achieve better future outcomes. Apparently, those key decisions that ultimately change the fortunes of a people will have to be delayed or shelved when the legitimacy of a government is challenged in court. Only those who know will understand the massive implications of this for common folks who need better life for themselves and future generation.

6. With post-election litigation, it is difficult to unify the people for a common good and social mobilization for positive causes are even much more difficult. Even miscreants armed by politicians are not easily contained and disarmed by those who stupidly armed them ab initio because they still imagine that the election continues.

May be we should start questioning the motive and patriotism of those who have decided to start another round of post-election litigations in Abia State. Do they hate to see a progressive Abia State or actually seek to punish the people of Abia State for not voting for them?

After a hard fought Anambra Governorship election in 2017, the losers decided to shelve going to court to enable the incumbent settle down and work for their people. Some of those now in court in Abia State praised their patriotism and proceeded to put out Anambra as a model state in terms of development. Same happened in the just concluded election in Bauchi and Lagos States where those who lost congratulated the winners shortly after the polls. Were better polls conducted in those states compared to Abia or did the opponents of the winners come from heaven?

It is too late for me to advise Otti or Ogah not to approach the tribunal to ventilate whatever they term their grievances. They are already at the tribunal and, lawyers, mostly non Abians, are smiling to the banks through them already at the expense of the common Abian.

Who knows who is giving the duo what fake assurances in Abuja or pushing them to destabilize their state for whatever reason? All I wish to appeal to them is to confine their challenge to the court rooms and leave the media space alone. They can litigate their matter for 3 years quietly without the usual noise and propaganda that help to destabilize and polarize our people.

At the end of the litigations, I am confident Governor Ikpeazu will defeat his opponents and the people of Abia State will respond to the litigants. I do not need a survey to know that majority of Abians wish that we do not go through another rancorous litigation process but selfishness will never allow our politicians to calmly listen to the people and work together for the common good.

One fact is settled in my mind, there can only be ONE Governor at a time in Abia State and that Governor is already there till 2023: Dr Okezie Ikpeazu. No tribunal or court in Nigeria will ever pronounce Uche Ogah and Alex Otti joint winners of the Governorship election in Abia State. It does not matter how many meetings they hold at night or joint press conferences they call to gang up against the incumbent. Abia voters have spoken already!

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