CONTROVERSIES, THREATS AS EBONYI HOLDS COUNCIL POLLS TOMORROW
As political parties in Ebonyi State square up for tomorrow's local government elections, the state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dave Umahi, has said that his party is sure of winning all the seats at all levels in the 13 council areas.
Umahi is optimistic that his party will get the necessary support because of what Governor Martin Elechi has achieved in terms of infrastructural developement. Arguing that the party has all it takes to solve the problems of Nigeria , he said 'we have the capacity and capability and therefore, people should continue to have faith in PDP. We are sure to take them to the 'Promised Land'.
They should come out en-masse to vote for PDP'. The chairman, who expressed confidence that his party will overrun other political parties, has mobilized all the party agents, educated the masses and provided all the logistics for the election and he is not expecting any hitches.
Perhaps, his confidence is based on the fact that other political parties have expressed their intentions to boycott the polls over alleged flaws. They are accusing the State Independent Electoral Commission(SIEC) of conniving with the ruling party.
The chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Jerry Obasi, while announcing their intention to withdraw, said: 'We were earlier prepared for the election, but when we found out that the State Independent Electoral Commission (EBSIEC) has compromised all the statutes for free and fair elections, we had to withdraw from the entire exercise. We were earlier involved in the exercise when some of our candidates got their tax clearance and paid the mandatory N200, 000 and N50, 000 including myself. But when you are in a football match, and enter the pitch, and you find out that the referee is wearing the jersey of your opponent, it will be foolish to continue in the game.
On the money we paid, it is to be one of the sacrifices to ensure that democracy stands. But if not, then, we are at a loss over such a precarious situation, because the electoral body which is supposed to be refereeing is partisan. One of the members of the commission is a card-carrying member of PDP. So, it is difficult, and many of them also are believed to be politicians. 'The commission has not completed the voters register, and you cannot do election without reviewing the register. There are people who are not qualified for that election, due to age. They are now qualified. In fact, democracy has been murdered in Ebonyi State by the electoral commission in connivance with the PDP. It is difficult for us; we are pained by all these difficulties.
'Already, whether we get involved or not, the electoral body has made it clear that it is PDP, because the election is for sale, what do you expect, when you have to bring money to qualify for the election. We are thinking a lot of actions, like to use the court to nullify it, to boycott the election like we intended to do, and others.'
However, the chairman of Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA), Cyril Obazi, holds a different view as the party seems determined to give PDP the fight it deserves at the polls, insisting that PPA is prepared, having fielded candidates in all the 215 wards, and 13 local governments, he expressed worries that the House of Assembly is putting a wedge against his candidates from receiving the desired votes, with the introduction of Option A4 which is against the electoral law, just to manipulate the elections. The chairman told Daily Sun, 'There are lots of problems along the way, orchestrated by government and PDP, where the House of Assembly has changed the laws of the election twice.
The most recent one is the bill that was passed introducing Option A4. The objective is to use it to scare away members of the public and civil servants, who are for our candidates. It is only in Ebonyi State that they change such laws and it is undemocratic to change the rule of the game when it has started. The processes of this election started in February, and they never deemed it fit to change the law or amend it from 2007, 2008, 2009 and even from January 2010. It was in the midnight of July 1, 2010 that the House of Assembly amended the law.
Why? And this is the first time. So, democracy as far as I am concerned, is in trouble. However, that won't prevent us from participating in the elections. We are saying that democracy is in trouble in Ebonyi State. If Mr. President is saying 'one man, one vote,' and each vote counts and that voting should be by open secret ballot, one would alert the entire nation and the whole world of the danger of scuttling democracy by the state government by introducing Option A4, eight days to the election, changing the rule of the game while action is on.
'I will say that a quitter doesn't win and a winner doesn't quit. We will be in the system and fight certain anomalies. Boycott of the election is not the best option, because even if you boycott the election, it will still go on. So, we are law abiding Nigerians. We don't want to do anything on the contrary, and like I am briefing you now; it is the duty of the Press to enlighten the world on what is happening. I am happy that Mr. President and his lieutenants will know, so that those in authority will call the Ebonyi State government, PDP and House of Assembly to order that they are trying to truncate democracy in Ebonyi State. That is why, we are not boycotting the elections'.
The Action Congress(AC) is fielding some candidates even when most members have returned to PDP with former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar. The party seems to be dead in the state, and as a result, has not made any impression so far. Other political parties are not contesting in the election, not because of the observed flaws, but that they exist only in name and for government patronage.
The only exception is the All Nigeria Peoples Party(ANPP), which is reeling under internal crises and has lost focus.