(OPINION) ABIA 2019: NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER – By Kazie Uko

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Okezie Ikpeazu must know that it is still early days to celebrate. Many may have seen the comical display of dance and gyrations by the governor to celebrate the victory awarded to him by his partners in conspiracy, INEC and Professor Benjamin Ozurumba of University of Nigeria Nsukka.

It’s amazing that with such landslide ‘victory’ the governor is the only one singing and dancing. The streets of Obingwa, Ohafia, Isiala Ngwa, Ukwa, Ugwunagbo, Osisioma, Umuahia, Aba and Ikwuano where the governor received his outrageously high votes are all filled with distraught Abians while the governor locks himself inside the government house and gets high on his favourite beverage, Hennessey Paradis.

Conversely, images from Ebonyi, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Cross Rivers and even Rivers State, where INEC has suspended the election, speak volumes of deserved victory. We have seen jubilant citizens and residents alike pour into the streets in these states, celebrating true victory on one hand and the other, protesting unwarranted meddling by men in military and other security agencies uniforms.

The governorship and state assembly elections held in Abia State a couple of days ago, is exactly what Dr. Alex Otti, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate, called it, a sham! And I add, a very big sham! Pray, is it possible for Okezie Ikpeazu and his party, PDP, to have won that election? Indeed, it might have been possible, but definitely not in a free and fair contest and not with his abysmal score card in the last four years as a governor.

In a credible election Okezie Ikpeazu and PDP will lose woefully, for very obvious reasons and they know it. That perhaps informed the reason they implemented the only strategy they know and have perfected over the years – rig the election. So, while serious candidate like Alex Otti traversed the nooks and crannies of Abia State engaging the people on issues that will impact positively on their welfare, well-being and development of the state, Ikpeazu indulged in sowing the seeds of discord and division among the people of Abia State, with his warped definition of equity.

Looking at the results of the 2019 gubernatorial election, as written by INEC in Abia State in favour of Okezie Ikpeazu, one would not but sympathise with the majority of Abia people who had voted for change of leadership in the government house, Umuahia, but whose votes were fraudulently discarded and distorted to reward and undeserved victor.

The figures released by INEC from the various local government areas in Abia State, especially, from Arochukwu, Ohafia, Obingwa, Ugwunagbo, Osisioma, the Isiala Ngwas, the Ukwas and the two Abas are most ridiculous. I have a very strong feeling that those results were written to demoralise and discourage the person of Dr. Alex Otti, who had been the only viable opposition to the PDP and Okezie Ikpeazu in Abia State and throughout the campaigns.

Ikpeazu, ordinarily, may have won in his enclave, Obingwa, but definitely not with that exaggerated figure of 78,803 votes. This figure looks like a script pulled out of the 2015 badly manufactured number in the same Obingwa. Same goes for Osisioma, Ugwunagbo and the others. It was not possible for Ikpeazu to have won Isiala Ngwa North and South with the kind of margin – 19,209 for North and 19,672 for South – at least Isiala Ngwa South is Alex Otti’s local government.

What I sense in this whole charade is that the governor and his collaborators only succeeded in lavishly enhancing their votes in locations they considered their strongholds, not political but ethnic stronghold, while at the same time whittling their opponents, particularly Alex Otti’s votes, in their own strongholds.

But if Ikpeazu’s plan is to break Alex Otti’s will to salvage Abia State from the stranglehold of PDP marauders, he is deluded, for this has made Otti even much stronger and determined to pursue the mandate of redeeming Abia State from the vampires.

Listen to Alex Otti speak: “It’s important to remind you that though my decision to step in and contribute to the development of Abia state from the leadership perspective has opened the political space and massively raised the political consciousness of our people, this effort would amount to nothing if we fail to change the mediocre status quo that presently exists in Abia.

“Very sadly, the government in power and its army of sychophants, who have proven that they are a committed bunch of selfish, desperate power grabbers, ignorantly think that we are on a similar mission, hence their penchant for dismissing with insult those fact-filled criticisms and suggestions that come from us that seek to raise the bar in governance and advance the economic well-being of our people.

“In some parts of the country, some people who thought they had built invincible political empires have seen such empires crumble before their very eyes. Make no mistakes about it, no victory has ever been achieved without some setbacks, and no freedom has ever been achieved on a platter of gold, hence my appeal to the very faithful and patient ones not to surrender to political slavery. We shall also not be cowed to surrender nor retreat.

“We have been taking the Okezie Ikpeazu led government to task since after the 2015 election because we want the government to move away from the mediocre old order, raise the status of governance and meet the democratic demands of our people, unfortunately, due to acute poverty of ideas, the government rather than sit up, decided to embrace the looting of our commonwealth and using same to buy its way, against the interest of our people.

“As we review all the atrocities that took place in the election, and make the necessary consultations with our associates and supporters to decide the next line of action, I urge all our supporters to remain calm, peaceful and law abiding in the interest of our state and people.

“With every sense of modesty, I want to assure you that since my aspiration ab initio wasn’t propelled by the quest for material wealth, comfort or luxury, which God had since graciously bestowed on me, it would be naive for anyone to think that this Abia people’s project would be abandoned midway.

“To the thousands of suffering workers, hapless pensioners, unemployed youths, exploited business men and women and others who came out to cast their votes, rest assured that this banditry put up as election would not make us break our resolve to stand by the people. The triumph of evil over good can only be temporary”.

Okezie Ikpeazu and his party PDP should be very afraid, for it is not yet uhuru for them. They should be very afraid for Abia people are not with them in this stolen victory. They should be very afraid because judgement day may just have been postponed. They should be very afraid because the people’s mandate will some day, soon, be retrieved and thereafter, judgement.

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