From PETER OKORE, Umuahia

The race to determine which political party that will capture and control the Aba-North and South Federal Constituencies has taken the centre stage in Abia state. This is also coming as preparations are now in top gear for the conduct of a credible bye-election for the Aba North and South Federal constituency of Abia state, into the Federal House of Representative, scheduled for the 27th of March, 2021.

The bye-election is as a result of the vacant seat in the green chamber of the National Assembly created by the death of the incumbent representative of the constituency in the House, Chief Ossy Prestige, earlier this year.
For the moment, the electoral umpire, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties and contestants for the vacant seat are neck-deep with arrangements to ensure successful election, come next Saturday (March 27, 2021).

Political pundits say election to see who now controls the Aba-North and- South Federal Constituency is very critical to all the contesting political parties in Abia. It is worthy of note that since the advent of democratic dispensation in 1999, the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Abia has only had one shut at that seat.

All along, it had been under the control of the defunct Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA) and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). This time, it appears both the PDP and All Progressives Congress (APC) are hell-bent to grab the seat and control the area.

But from all indications, it is not going to be easy for any party; more so as the incumbent of the seat, Ossy Prestige, was said to be very dear to the constituents, vide his numerous achievements, while he lived.

On the whole only six out of the existing 21 political parties have completed all formalities including filing all the necessary papers, required by both the Parties and INEC to enable them to contest the Aba-North and South bye-election next Saturday (27th March).

The political Parties and their candidates are Mr. Chiamaobi Ebisike for the PDP; Mascot Uzor Kalu for the APC; Chima Uwandu for the National Rescue Mission (NRM) and Destiny Nwagwu for the APGA (the current holder of the seat. The rest are Apostle Abrahim Akagbue of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), and Dr Longinus Chijioke Ehirodo Prestige of the Action Alliance Party.

At a long-hour accord meeting on Tuesday the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Abia state Dr. Joseph Illoh held with stakeholders from all the contesting political parties and Inter-party Advisory Committee (IPAC) in his office, all the parties agreed that the election would be free, fair and credible, devoid of rancour and acrimony.

They also agreed to control their youths and members before, during and after the election. All the party stakeholders and contestants signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) reached at the meeting.

Speaking to newsmen after the meeting, the Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Illoh promised to deliver a credible election. But, implored politicians in the state to ensure they have proper control of their youths during the election, just as he appealed to the Abia state Government to restrict movements on the election day to make for smooth movements of election materials from Umuahia to poling centres promptly.

”All sensitive election materials would reach the 609 Polling Units in the two (2) affected Local Government Areas by 7 O’clock in the morning, while accreditations and voting start by 8 O’clock in the morning. A total of 3,297 Ad hoc staff have been trained for the election-proper.
Apart from the preparations already on ground, Town Hall meetings will he organised for stakeholders in the two LGAs affected by the bye-election to ensure peaceful, free and credible election on Saturday.” On their own part, political parties have stormed all the crannies of Aba metropolis campaigning for supports.

Last Monday March 15, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) held its mega rally at Etche Road Field, Aba, with the Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, the Deputy Governor, Sir Ude Oko Chukwu, Speaker of Abia State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji, the State party chairman, Allwell Asiforo among other party leaders, stalwarts, stakeholders, members and supporters where at the venue to campaign for the party’s candidate, Chimaobi Ebisike.

While handing the party’s flag over to Ebisike, Governor Ikpeazu recalled the several achievements of his government in Aba . He mentioned some of the roads and other projects completed by his administration. Ikpeazu used the occasion to highlight some of the roads he has rehabilitated in Aba Metropolis with the N27 billion World Bank funds.

He, however, appreciated the people for attending the rally in their numbers and asserted that PDP has proven to be the only Party with the genuine interest of the people at heart. He urged them to reciprocate the good gesture by turning-out en masse on March 27 to cast their votes for the party as well as remain vigilant by protecting their votes from the point of voting to the collating and announcement of the results.

“Let everyone come out on that day and vote. Don’t sit at home and if we do come out to vote the way we have come out for this rally, I assure you PDP will win”, the governor stated .
Other speakers extolled the quality antecedence of their candidate for the election and pleaded that he be voted for.

The Speaker of Abia State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji described Ebisike as “a young man who will not disappoint the youths but carry them along. He will not abandon you”.

Raising the hand of the Party’s flag bearer, the Speaker said, “Today, you have entered an agreement with the people that you will not abandon them and that you will take care of them”, to which Ebisike answered in the affirmative while the crowd erupted in jubilation shouting “Agreement is agreement!”

In their own remarks the Deputy Governor, Sir Ude Oko Chukwu, the State PDP chairman, Allwell Asiforo, Deputy Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly Ifeanyi Uchendu, Majority Leader, Solomon Akpulonu, Member representing Aba North State Constituency, Aaron Uzodike, among others, urged the people to come out on the day of election and deliver the PDP as an appreciation for what has been done in the Aba city.

In his speech, Chimaobi Ebisike promised to provide quality representation for the people of his constituency if elected into the House of Representatives. Meanwhile, other parties have taken to house-to-house contacts for votes., rather than staging open air campaigns.

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