A LEADER of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Mr. Okoli Akirika has faulted the purported parallel congress of a splinter group, which produced Dr. Chike Obidigbo as another candidate for the forthcoming Anambra State governorship election, saying it cannot stand.
Meanwhile, the National Secretary of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Mr. Gilbert Agbo, has advised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that the governorship election is transparent, free and fair. He gave the advice as a Coalition of Civil Society Organisations on Election Observation and Monitoring in Nigeria called for a rerun of the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship primary conducted on September 2 in Anambra, saying that there were evidences of violence.
Akirika, who spoke to newsmen in Awka, yesterday emphasised that any APGA event in which the national leader, Mr. Peter Obi, the ‘authentic’ National Chairman of the party confirmed by the judiciary, Chief Victor Umeh and other national officers were not present can never stand the test of time.
According to Akirika who is also the Anambra State Commissioner for Lands, Survey and Town Planning, the purported congress organised by the Chief Maxi Okwu and produced Obidigbo did not satisfy the requirements of the law and will not be acceptable to the leadership of the party.
“Firstly, I am not aware of any other congress outside the exercise, duly convened and held at the Women Development Centre, Awka in which Obi and other national officers of the party participated. Nobody has ever raised any issue questioning the authenticity and legality of that congress. Okwu never raised any molecule of protest against that congress. So it is a very great surprise for me to hear that another congress was purportedly held. I don’t think that the presentation of Obidigbo will stand”.
Akirika, who could not say whether INEC participated in supervising that congress or not, maintained that Governor Obi did not participate or send any representative there, as he questioned the legality of the parallel primary. “We have a court judgment stating who the national chairman is. There is no crisis in APGA. Only Okwu knows what is informing his action,” he added.
The NNPP scribe, Agbo, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that providing equal opportunities for all governorship candidates contesting the November 16 election would further enhance the sanctity of the electoral process.
According to him, ``People are tired of empty promises; what they want is to see real connection between the political parties and the electorate. INEC proved its worth during the Edo and Ondo elections; we participated and we saw it and it was an indication of good things to come,’’ he said.
Agbo said INEC had stated its level of preparedness on how it would monitor the financial aspects of the elections. ``The Anambra people are known for what they can do with money; there is ceiling to the amount of money that can be spent during elections.
``The money bags should exercise restraints and the people should be careful in picking governorship candidate that can deliver,’’ he said.
The Coalition call for a rerun primary election in APC in a statement made available to newsmen in Awka yesterday and signed by the National Coordinator, Northern Patriotic Forum, Chief Dominic Alfred and the Executive Secretary, Society for Good Governance and Transparency, Mr. Friday Maduka respectively.
It will be recalled that Senator Chris Ngige garnered 63, 255 votes to defeat Mr. Godwin Ezeemo, who polled 9, 564 votes at the primary conducted in the 326 electoral wards.
The statement among other things noted that a team of the group, which monitored the election observed unavailability of security officials at the various polling units and snatching of ballot boxes and ballot papers by some political thugs in some of the polling units.
“We also noticed late or non-arrival of voting materials at some of the polling units which have also frustrated peoples franchise to vote freely, some of the snatched result sheets were recovered by the officials and was still used as the official result of the polling unit it was stolen with the result clearly manipulated or tempered,” they alleged.
According to the statement, in view of the above, the coalition cannot endorse the credibility and fairness of the election held on September 2 and hereby call for a rerun, while also suggested that INEC should fully participate and deploy monitoring team and accredited observer for future governorship primaries.
The group noted that If open primaries should be held without delegates, as observed in the September 2 APC governorship primaries, INEC should ensure deployment of security officials in all polling units to ensure protection of lives of electorate and checkmate the snatching of ballot and result sheets.
In reaction, however, the state chairman of the APC, Chief Chuks Chinwuba, described the statement of the group as worthless, saying that APC conducted impeccable primaries.
“Everyone who monitored the primaries would attest that it was free and fair. The process used in the election was option A4 where you don’t use ballot box or papers.
“They are talking of a phantom election and must be biased.
“Recall that at the time the result was announced, the local government returning officers stated the wards with issues and elections were cancelled in those areas, including Nteje ward five and Omor wards one and two.” He urged members of the public to disregard the statement.