Less than eight days to the presidential/National Assembly election, political parties in Abia state are putting finishing touches to their preparations for the exercise. Sam Obinna Ibe writes.
With the two crucial elections almost at hand, all the major political parties are intensifying efforts on their campaign rallies from the zonal, to states, LGAs. Now, they have the rally to the villages where they are embarking on ward to ward and door-to-door campaigns.
As in other states, the situation is not different in Abia state, ‘God’s own state’ where five serious political contenders such as the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, the main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), are not leaving anything to chance. The latter parties are hell bent on dethroning the PDP, and so seems to have intensified its campaign tailored towards convincing the people to reject the ruling party and vote for either of them.
In fact, the two parties that appear to be seriously demanding the PDP’s exit from government house are the newly resurrected Social Democratic party (SDP) and the Accord Party (AP) where Mrs Blessing Nwagba and Mr Emeka Uwakolam have also shown from all intent and purposes that they are seriously interested in Okzie Ikpeazu’s job.
They also run
Aside from these five political parties, candidates of other parties are somewhat classified pretenders who are merely out to be seen. Some just want to fulfill all righteousness and subsequently be addressed as one-time governorship candidate. There is one that does not have a car and can be seen jumping from one ” Keke Maruwa (Tricycle) and the other” yet he prides himself as a governorship candidate of a party.
In Abia state, while it may be easy to predict an easy win for the PDP in the presidential election because an average Abians is already “Atikulated” but this does not suggest that President Muhammadu Buhari will not garner some reasonable number of votes. Based on his outing in Abia state especially during the zonal rally, political observers say Buhari would likely perform far better than he did in 2015 because of the caliber of heavy weight politicians that have defected to the APC.
Beyond this, Atiku is naturally loved by Abians and well equipped to tackle the economic hardship Nigerians are currently going through, according to some keen watchers of political developments in the state. Thus, it would seem that the electorate are waiting for the D day to express their love for him through their ballot papers.
To lend credence to the above, the choice of Mr Peter Obi, who is not only regarded as a performer, as evident by the infrastructural development he brought to Anambra state, he easily connects with Ndigbo. The former governor is also ‘Mr stainless’ who in the estimation of many did not soiled his hands in corruption while he held sway as governor. His clean record is a masterstroke for Atiku and the PDP which badly needs some credibility. With someone of high integrity in its parade and the general disdain for the APC federal government as per its failure to appoint an Ndigbo service chief, the PDP seems to win the sympathy of the people.
The PDP is predicted to post excellent result in the presidential election because of the Atiku and Obi had traversed the whole of the south east and were well received.
Ikpeazu shaky’s grounds
However, the party cannot be cock sure that it would have an ease sail in the national and state assemblies election and the governorship. And political office seekers know this much.
This is an area PDP in Abia appears to be jittery as the 2019 elections closes on and is not leaving any stone unturned in order to escape defeat in the hands of ravaging APC and APGA candidates respectively.
To buttress this fear, the statement credited to frontline politicians in Abia state seemed to have “fear” embedded in it. For instance, Abians are of the opinion that the trio: the incumbent Governor Dr Okezie IKpeazu and the governorship candidate of the PDP, Dr Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah of the APC and Dr Alex Otti of APGA that any of these three formidable candidates is capable of winning the forthcoming governorship election in Abia state.
To allay this fear, IKpeazu and PDP henchmen in their campaign rallies are sending the sentiment of “on equity we stand” reminding Abians and residents alike on the need to vote the PDP back noting that” Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia North ruled Abia for eight years, T A Orji of Abia Central also governed Abia for eight years and then asked why Okezie IKpeazu of Abia South should not govern for same number of years?”
Between Ukwa and equity
This has been the campaign mantra of the PDP as billboards, radio jingles and commentaries and features in newspapers as a strong signal the party and people of Ukwa Ngwa are putting across.
The fear instinct for the PDP did not stop at governorship level as even in the national and state assembly elections, the in-thing for the party is the fear of unknown: the fear of APC and APGA in the forthcoming elections.
For example, In the National Assembly not even a single senator of the PDP can confidently say he will win less than few days to the election without being scared of opponents who are also laying strong claims. They are also optimistic of emerging victoptorius in the February 16 and March 2 exercise.
For example, in Abia North, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa of the PDP has the former governor Dr Orji Uzor Kalu of the APC and Dr Bourdex Ogba Onuoha of the APGA, a billionaire telecom expert, as his main challengers.
In Abia Central, the immediate past Governor Senator T A Orji of the PDP is staging a second term bid amidst strong opposition. He is said not to be comfortable for a smooth ride back to the National Assembly having the former two-time senator, one-time House of Representatives member Senator Nkechi Nwaogu of APC, and Chief Onyeukwu Ajaegbu, the former National President of ICAN to contend with.
To worsen matters, both have vowed to dethrone him and some credible political watchers ,they have seen Abia Central senatorial district seat as a no mean battle ahead when one considers the pedigrees of the duo.
Senator Orji has also in many campaign rallies drew the attention of Ngwa axis of Abia Central to the need for equity that they are clamouring for saying it did not start and end in governorship ticket but same equity should also prevail in the senatorial ticket.
To this end, he called on his Ikwuano Umuahia people to vote him en masse while warning the Ngwa extraction of the zone on the dire consequences of not supporting his candidature. According to him, it is not possible for their people to be asking return governorship ticket and also want to take the senate seat too.
“Vote against me in senate and forget about return governorship ticket for Ngwa people in 2019”, Orji warned during his campaign there.
No direct favourite
This same scenario is applicable to Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe who is staging a fourth time bid for the senate seat. The Ukwa axis of the Abia South district has vowed not to support him but one of their own irrespective of the party affiliation since the Ngwa land where Abaribe comes from cannot continue to hold on the plum office at their own expense.
They also alleged that the Ngwa cannot hold the position of governor and senate seat at the same time. Besides, they are all from the same Obingwa LGA and would do so for a record of eight years with their Ukwa brothers having nothing. This seems to be Abaribe’s greatest nightmare.
On this note, one would not be surprised if Ukwa should cast protest vote for Chief Marc Wabara of the APC or Chief Chris Nkwonta of APGA even as PDP members. Not when two of their great Ukwa sons in PDP, the likes of Emeka Stanley and Dr Solomon Ogunji were denied ticket in the last primaries in favour of Abaribe who has already spent 12 years in senate.
Interestingly, the two Ukwa frontline politicians have the financial chest to prosecute their election and are also said to be popular and influential too.
In federal house, nobody is sure of the party that will win if there is anything to guess, the APC is expected to do better than the present occupier of seats from the PDP.
As for state House of Assembly, it is said to be open contest to the five main contenders in the 2019 election in Abia.
The above graphic analyses explains why Abia PDP appears to be jittery ahead of 2019 election as average Abian feels the need to try other political parties having seen much from PDP led Government without much to account for.