– Written by Eagle Okoro, a public affairs analyst
Friday’s verdict by the Supreme Court affirming the judgments of the lower and Appeal Tribunals that Gov. Alex Chioma Otti validly won the March 18, 2023 Governorship Election in Abia was, first, a timely sweet New Year gift by the judiciary to Abia and its good people, home and abroad, as well as other Nigerians that have followed the political trajectory of the state from 2015 to date.
Secondly, the judgment, which was read by Justice Uwani Abba-Aji, further lends absolute credence to the age-old, popular quote from Alcuin of York – “vox populi vox Dei” (meaning the voice of the people (is) the voice of God).
Thirdly, it authoritatively signals PDP’s final journey into extinction from Abia political space – willy nilly!
…AS A NEW YEAR GIFT: The unassailable verdict by the country’s apex court was coming at a period Abia people, nay the global community, are still in a celebration mood, savouring the freshness of the New Year, with all the optimism and high hopes for a brighter future associated with it.
Therefore, the judgment, though expected by optimists and analysts, can literally be described as the icing on the cake for the New Year.
So, it is celebration galore for the Abia first family, the LP, government and people of good conscience in Abia – indigenes and non-indigenes alike – and lovers of justice, fairness and unadulterated democracy.
…AS A CONFIRMATION OF THE VOICE OF ABIA ELECTORATE/VOICE OF GOD
On Saturday, March 18, 2023, the Abia electorate joined their counterparts in other states of the federation to decide who would become their next governors, with the expiration of the erstwhile administration on May 29, 2023.
Following the robust political campaign that preceded the general elections and the extant provisions of the Electoral Act 2022, which provides for the use of technology, particularly the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machine, reinforced by the persistent promises by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for a more transparent and credible electoral process, particularly to display the election results in real time on the IRev, enthusiastic Nigerian electorate trooped out in such an incredible number to take advantage of the innovation that promised to make their votes count in the election of their choice political leaders for the next dispensation.
So, from the East to West, North to South, the general elections recorded an exceptionally impressive turnout of voters only compared to the 1993 Presidential Election that was adjudged the country’s fairest and most credible.
Indeed, the nation’s youths, women and men were all over the place anxious to cast their ballots and protect them to make sure they actually count in deciding the actual winners of the polls.
In Abia, the scenario was even more interesting as the people rooted for the Third Force in the 2023 political contest – the LP – and virtually all its candidates at all levels of the polls, with the Field Marshal, Dr Otti, leading the troops.
When it was time to vote, the people lined up behind the man (Otti) and political party they trusted and wished to lead them for the next four years in the first instance.
In their teeming numbers and at the various polling units across the 184 electoral wards in the state, they stood calm and patient for several hours to officially endorse Dr Otti, their favourite and most popular candidate of all the 18 Governorship Candidates.
And they took turn under the sun and watchful eyes of God Almighty and all the celestial forces to cast their ballots for him in an overwhelming endorsement of his candidacy as the most credible, tested and trusted.
Beyond casting their ballots for him, they stood back to defend them and ensured the votes were properly counted and entered into the result sheets by the INEC offficials. They persevered and painstakingly followed the ballots straight up to the wards, after ensuring their successful upload to the IRev portal.
At Obingwa LGA, God frustrated an unholy, desperate gang up to re-enact the old fashioned magic of mass producing votes with non-existent and dead voters’ particulars.
The plan by PDP to manipulate the 26,884 voters accredited via BVAS on the election day in the LGA to correspond with their clandestine evil mission got exposed and truncated.
Also, the plot to allocate a whopping 108,000 votes to PDP as against the 9,962 votes it legitimately garnered at the poll was checkmated by the vigilant and courageous Obingwa LGA Collation Officer.
And while all the shenanigans were unfolding in Obingwa, the State Returning Officer and Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Prof. Nnenna Oti, was also in her best element at the state Collation Centre on INEC premises in Umuahia, compounding the heat in PDP’s camp.
After all the delay and rigmarole by the roundly defeated and frustrated PDP riggers, led by a devastated Ikpeazu, INEC on March 22, declared the LP Governorship Candidate, Dr Alex Chioma Otti, the winner of the poll and returned him as the Governor-elect of Abia.
It was this epochal, earthshaking and landmark declararion that officially signalled the beginning of PDP’s long journey into oblivion from Abia’s political landscape.
The party also blew up the only chance it had after its embarrassing outing in the general elections to still hold its head up in the state, when some of the power-hungry persons, including it’s Governorship Candidate, Chief Okey Ahiwe, rebuffed Ikpeazu’s wise counsel that the party should not challenge the outcome of the poll but concede defeat to Dr Otti and LP.
This was to help preserve whatever image was left of the party.
Instead, they blindly and foolishly headed for the Elections Petitions Tribunal, then moved surreptitiously to a Kano High Court and later to the Appeal and Supreme Courts, respectively, brandishing stupid technical grounds with which they hoped to sneak back their filthy selves to Abia Government House.
They felt convinced that what they could not get by means of the ballot, they could grab with the aid of technicalities through the election courts.
It thus looked like a drama, watching the same shameless, mud-coated, dirty, stinking, rejected and discarded rag, called Abia PDP, attempting ferociously to smuggle itself back to power, obviously against the popular wish of the entire people and after its 24 long wasted, rapacious years in power.
It’s heavy reliance on profoundly injusticeable and indefensible technicalities fell flat before the five sound jurists of the apex court, who overwhelmingly held that the people of Abia have spoken and their voice, like the voice of God, remains sacrosanct.
Of course, that final and irreversible decision of the five wise jurists marked the end of the road for Abia PDP and its transactional political marauders, who held Abia down by the jugular and suffocated for more than two decades.
With the deliberate sustenance of the irrefutable developmental strides of the Otti-led administration, which has in less than seven months demonstrated genuine commitment to providing purposeful and visionary leadership, there is great hope in the horizon that a new Abia is imminent through good governance and enhanced dividend of democracy for the state and its citizenry.
It is mere truism, therefore, to say that by the time the governor had completed his eight-year tenure, God willing, finishing strongly and resoundingly, in terms of the infrastructure upgrade, human capital development, job creation and overall development of the critical sectors, such as health, education, agriculture, small and medium enterprises, foreign and local direct investment, a substantial uplift in industrialisation and the state’s overall GDP, among other development indices, Abia would have attained the enviable height and vision of its founding fathers to become the cynosure of other states of the federation.
It is safe to envision that both the 2027 and 2031 General Elections in Abia would be a work over for LP and the governor.
Already, it has become an anathema for any politician to parade himself on the streets of Abia openly identifying with PDP.
The few noise makers, who were hitherto ridiculing themselves with propaganda stunts in the online media, have finally gone under, having been permanently silenced by Gov. Otti’s sterling performance in all fronts.
No wonder it would not be an exaggeration to predict that by 2031, the PDP’s disastrous and irredeemable journey off the cliff into total extinction would have completed its full circle – gone for good as in good riddance to bad rubbish in God’s Own State.
– Eagle Okoro, a public affairs analyst, writes from Umuahia