As Abia North Senatorial re-run election draws nearer, OKECHUKWU JOMBO writes that it is a battle of titans.
Three frontline candidates for the scheduled Abia North Senatorial re-run elections are currently at their wits trying to outdo each other, thereby throwing up so many things that can be said to be politics at play.
Even though the candidates, Mao Ohuabunwa of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP; David Onuoha-Bourdex of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, and Orji Uzor Kalu of the Progressive Peoples Alliance, PPA, have been crisscrossing the zone canvassing for votes from the electorate, other underground works are at play trying to sway voters.
Some of the intrigues might have yielded an advantage for the PDP candidate when 17 out of the 23 registered political parties in the state adopted Senator Ohuabunwa as their sole candidate for the election.
The chairmen and secretaries of the political parties made their stand known while addressing journalists in Umuahia.
Speaking on behalf of the political parties, Menelik Ukpai, who doubles as the state Secretary of Inter-Party Advisory Council, IPAC, said the PDP candidate is the best among all the contestants vying for the seat.
“The senatorial district is not in need of superlative representation where a senator in an endless learning process will sit in the red chamber only to support the proposal of others with a ‘yea or nay’.
“The endorsement of Senator Mao Ohuabunwa by majority of IPAC members in Abia State is a conscientious one. His current stint in the Senate has witnessed an unrelenting effort to push bills that will impact positively on the lives of the people.
“We believe that those who are currently vying for the senatorial seat in Abia North, on various platforms, are well meaning citizens, many of them have found success in other fields of endeavour, however we need experience and we have found it in the person of Senator Mao Ohuabunwa,’’ he said.
As this was still being pondered, Onuoha-Bourdex described himself as the candidate to beat in the election.
Onuoha-Bourdex stated this in a letter dated February 5 and addressed to his PPA counterpart, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu.
In the letter the APGA candidate urged Kalu to exercise caution in his methods in seeking votes from the electorate.
The APGA candidate stated that the fact that “Evidence abounds in Abia North Senatorial District that he is the candidate to beat in the forthcoming rerun,” should not warrant that devious methods should be employed to deny him victory again.
He urged the former governor to “desist from practices that could cause confusion, undermine transparency or precipitate crisis in the senatorial zone.”
The APGA senatorial candidate informed Kalu that the idea of superimposing APGA’s logo on his campaign posters was in bad taste, pointing out that not only would the unwholesome practice confuse voters, but it would give the impression that he (Kalu) is running on two platforms, APGA and PPA.
While urging the PPA candidate to exercise caution and show less desperation for the senatorial election, Onuoha-Bourdex reminded him that “as leaders they should endeavour to leave good examples for the younger generation.”
The APGA candidate informed Kalu that the era of winning elections by hook or crook is gone, pointing out that “We have to remember that these young ones are watching us and do only those things that would encourage them to toe the path of moral rectitude, honesty and good conscience.”
Part of the letter read: “My dear brother, Orji Uzor Kalu, I feel constrained to write you this letter after noticing a series of unethical conducts from your campaign organisation. Not long ago, a malicious rumour was engineered and spread through news outlets owned by you to the effect that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has disqualified APGA from the rerun election ordered by the Appeal Court.
‘‘In that particular report which violated all known standards of balanced reporting, the reporter failed to inform readers how, why and through what means INEC communicated the so-called disqualification. As if that was not enough, your supporters went to town announcing to our people that all candidates including my humble self have stepped down for you.
‘‘And as if the only effective strategy open to the campaign organisation was subterfuge and public deception, campaign posters with your picture and party symbol had the APGA logo superimposed on them were posted on various public places around the senatorial district.
‘‘Now, Your Excellency, I do not expect that after eight years in office as governor of this God’s own state, you should allow your aides to descend so low in adopting such desperate tactics for a mere senatorial seat. I have therefore decided to point out these anomalous developments to you so that at least you could rein in your supporters and ensure that you show them good examples through honesty and integrity.”
Onuoha-Bourdex reminded his PPA counterpart that the current fight against corruption should involve all stakeholders, adding that political corruption has been found to be at the root of other forms of graft.
“Abia North Senatorial District and Abia State in general deserve a new lease of life devoid of politics of brinkmanship, thuggery, subterfuge and unethical practices. After 17 years of democracy, our state should be encouraged to mature into full adulthood and weaned from the childish pranks of yesteryears,” he said.
Kalu, a former governor of the state, has not relented and has vowed to win the election
He has been described as a man with great vision and also a super star that will represent Abia North Senatorial Zone if voted into power by the people.
A PPA chieftain, Chief Benjamin Kalu, who stated this while speaking in his Bende country home, said Dr Orji Uzor Kalu will perform more than any other person aspiring to represent Abia North in the Senate based on his past experiences.
It would be re-called that the Court of Appeal sitting in Owerri, Imo State, headed by Justice G Mbaba nullified Ohuabunwa’s election and ordered INEC to conduct a fresh election within 90 days.
According to Chief Ben Kalu, the former governor has what it takes to be in the Senate having served as governor of Abia State for eight years from 1999 to 2007, pointing out that he is a renowned business mogul, a philanthropist par excellence and a politician of repute who has been able to sustain his name in politics, business and humanity.
“I want to use this medium to call on my good people of Abia North Senatorial Zone to vote massively for OUK during the re-run election to be organised by INEC to enable him contribute his quota towards the development of Abia North and the state in general. You know that Kalu is the best candidate among those contesting with him and we are solidly behind him,” Ben stressed.
He maintained that in politics, Kalu is a household name having served as a member of the House of Representatives from 1992 to 1993 during which he moved the famous Dual Citizenship Right Bill in the House and also held the position of Deputy Chairman of the Finance and Internal Affairs Committee.
In 2007, the former governor contested for the presidency under the platform of his new political party, the PPA, though he did not win the election, but the party made an impact in Imo and Abia States.
Meanwhile, candidates contesting in the re-run election had advocated for a free and fair polls.
State Chairman of the PDP, Senator Emma Nwaka, said the party is not resting on its oars to ensure that all its candidates in the re-run emerge victorious.
He noted that the party does not believe in violence, but in working hard to convince Abia electorate on the need to vote for them.
Mr. Nwaka added that the PDP is for Abia because it already has six federal legislators and two senators.
He, however, cautioned anyone that intends to ferment trouble to desist from such act because security operatives are on red alert to forestall such occurrences.