Abia LG election threatened •IPAC wants poll shift
Posted by Boniface Okoro, Umuahia | 7 December 2016 | 2,272 times
With barely 10 days to elections into the 17 Local Governments Areas (LGA) in Abia State, the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) has called on the Abia State Independent Electoral Commission (ABSIEC) to postpone the exercise by at least 14 days.
IPAC made the demand in Umuahia same day the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) demonstrated its seriousness in preparing for the polls by kicking off its campaigns and presenting the party’s flags to their chairmanship and deputy chairmanship candidates, an occasion Governor Okezie Ikpeazu used to vow that henceforth, council polls would hold in the state every two years.
IPAC, Abia State chapter, while addressing newsmen in Umuahia equally requested ABSIEC to review the fees it was charging candidates, describing them as high.
The group which comprises of all political parties in the state noted that such gesture would enable most of the political parties and their candidates to participate in the polls for the benefit of the ruralites.
Abia IPAC chairman, Chief Emeka Okafor, who spoke on behalf of the group, remarked that although most of the political parties were through with their primaries, the prevailing economic situation in the country should be taken into consideration and the candidates given a little more time to prepare and contest the elections.
While reiterating that the idea of the council polls was a welcome development, Okafor charged the electoral umpire to ensure that level playing ground was provided for all the political parties in the state to participate in the election. Representatives of the parties, except PDP, were present during the briefing.
Since ABSIEC fixed local government elections to hold on December 17, 2016, IPAC has consistently kicked against it, complaining that the period allowed for electioneering was short. It has also been complaining about high fees charged candidates by the electoral body. But ABSIEC has been silent on the demand.
However, the PDP took its preparations for council polls a notch higher Monday by flagging off its campaigns and handing over the party’s flags to its chairmanship candidates and their deputies for local government polls at a ceremony held at Events Centre in Umuahia, the state capital.
Addressing the gathering, Governor Ikpeazu vowed that the era of using unelected political leaders to run the affairs of the 17 Local Governments of the state was over as elections would now be conducted on schedule.
Flagging off the PDP campaigns, the governor recalled that the last time local government poll was held in Abia was in 2008, adding: “Having decided to revive democratic governance at the grassroots, there would no longer be any interruption of the process.
“If we have been holding election in the past 10 years, by now we would have five successive governments. We have started Local Government poll and it won’t be interrupted.”
The Abia Chief Executive said that he expected PDP to sweep the polls because “we have no opposition in Abia.”
But he warned the party faithful not to take the weakness of the opposition for granted and urged the PDP and its candidates to go all out to campaign robustly in every corner of the state to be able to earn the confidence of voters.
“The only way to win is to win squarely and fairly,” he said, adding that the campaigns should be issue-based and devoid of violence. He also charged the state electoral body, ABSIEC, to conduct a transparent and free and fair poll.
He enjoined the chairmanship flag bearers of PDP to work hard to win and better the lives of the people at the grassroots based on his administration’s five pillars of development.
Earlier, the state Chairman of PDP, Chief Johnson Onuigbo, had told the teeming party supporters at the event that the party’s flag bearers were carefully chosen through the primaries, adding that the party has a winning team in the forthcoming council poll.
He charged the candidates to work very hard to justify the confidence of the party in their candidacies by winning the poll and assisting the government in deepening development at the grassroots.
Onuigbo added that given the performance in providing infrastructure in all the Local Governments, PDP has no reason not to record landslide victory at the polls.
He, therefore, enjoined the Local Government chapters to post 100 per cent victory in both the chairmanship and councillorship elections.
Highlight of the ceremony was the presentation of PDP flags to the chairmanship candidates and their deputies.
•Photo shows, from left; Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Martins Azubuike, Deputy Governor, Sir Ude Oko Chukwu, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu and Abia PDP State Chairman, Chief Johnson Onuigbo, arriving for the PDP campaign flag off for the December 17, 2016 local government elections