By Omeiza Ajayi & Chinonso Alozie
ABUJA—The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has presented Certificates of Return to newly elected federal lawmakers, urging them to expedite action on the electoral framework for the 2023 general elections.
However, Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha was not available following the decision of the commission not to present him with a certificate for allegedly coercing an electoral official to announce him winner of the February 23, Imo West senatorial poll.
Okorocha immediately fired back, accusing INEC of allowing itself to be used by partisans who are afraid of his future political ambition.
Speaking with journalists in Abuja shortly after the event, Okorocha accused some unnamed forces in the polity of trying to stop him from making an input into those who will become principal members of the National Assembly as well as the politics of 2023 presidency.
He said: “I am sure I was conspicuously absent from the certificates issuance ceremony. I was not there because INEC had removed my name from the list of senators having been declared the winner by the zonal returning officer. So, I am actually waiting to hear why INEC struck my name out.
“I am told from the grapevine that it was because of duress. In other words, somebody must have coerced the returning officer to do what he was not supposed to do but here again, I do not understand what that means because there was nothing of such. How can you put somebody under duress to declare you the winner of an election that you have already won? And look, they are not saying that we did not win. They are not saying that the other man won.
Imo REC playing funny, cruel script —Okorocha
“So, I do not understand why we should be the people forcing someone to do something wrong to claim victory. It is not true but I must let the world understand that this is a game that is being played. The Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, in Imo State is playing a script and the script is so funny, it is so cruel and crude actually and they are executing it in a funny way.
“I understand that people are beginning to fight a war of the future now when we are not even yet there and I am surprised that INEC is being used as an instrument for those who find it politically difficult to achieve what they want to do. The idea is, do not give Rochas a certificate; you must slow him down until after they have elected the presiding officers, then you can let him come in, so that he does not become anything and make sure that his candidate for governor does not win and then make sure that he is crippled politically before 2023. That is what is happening and it is very childish.”
We’re vindicated by Uzodinma’s loss —Okorocha
In a related development yesterday, Okorocha said his government has been vindicated by the defeat of APC governorship candidate in the state, Senator Hope Uzodinma, whom he claimed was favoured by national chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole instead of his preferred candidate, Uche Nwosu.
According to Okorocha, “We have been vindicated over our repeated claim that Chief Hope Uzodinma has remained a member of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, both in spirit and in body and that, it was not only wrong but totally unacceptable for Oshiomhole to have handed over the governorship ticket of the party in the state to him, no matter the deal.
“We had maintained that Uzodinma was just a mole in the APC. Today, the governorship election in the state and its outcome have obviously vindicated us. Aside, Chief Uzodinma worked for the PDP in the Presidential/National Assembly elections and also in the governorship/House of Assembly elections. He was one of the first set of people to celebrate with the PDP candidate, Chief Emeka Ihedioha the moment he was announced the winner of the election.”
Shun transactions with Imogovt, Ihedioha warns banks
Meanwhile, Imo State Governor-elect, Mr Emeka Ihedioha has advised financial institutions to stop new transactions with the state government or do so at their own peril.
Ihedioha, who spoke at a media interaction in Owerri, yesterday, said new transactions would increase chances of illegal activities and jeopardise the financial stability of the state.
He said his duty and responsibility would be to ensure that citizens and residents of the state remained united and work together for the common good of the state.
The governor-elect commended other contestants in the election for their “sportsmanship” and urged them to partner his administration to “restore the dignity of the state”.
He described his success at the poll as a “new path to progress which would signal an end to impunity and brazenness” in the state.
Ihedioha promised to ensure that the citizens were united for a common purpose and shun divisiveness.
Dedicating his success to the “common men,” he commended the people for buying into his vision of realising a dream state and promised to work hard to justify their faith in him.
He also commended the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and security agencies for their roles in ensuring that the election was credible.
He went on to outline plans to set up a transition committee to liaise with the outgoing government to ensure a smooth transition and chart a way forward for the state.
He also promised to work out programmes, which would engage the youth as a way to end drug abuse and curb vices, starting with the rehabilitation of the four technical colleges in the state.
Time of brazenness in Imo has gone —Ihedioha
The Imo state governor-elect, Emeka Ihedioha, yesterday said that the era of brazenness in governance has come to an end in Imo state.
He also said that, plans have been concluded to set up a transition team to liase with the outgoing government of Rochas Okorocha, and that the transition team would come up with an action plan, for infrastructure and human development.
Ihedioha made this statement while briefing newsmen in Owerri, on how he intended to address what he called “bad governance” in Imo State.
He also warned members of the public to be wary of doing business with the outgoing government.
On his plans to develop Imo, he said: “We will run an all-inclusive government and not a government of exclusion. Ours will be a government that will promote the unity of the state, rather than accentuate the fissures that have characterised our relationship with each other in recent times. As the popular saying goes, let us not listen to things that will divide us, let us rather listen to things that will unite us, for united we stand, divided we fall.
“We shall run an open, transparent and accountable government with due process as its hallmark. I believe strongly that those in positions of authority must render account of their stewardship to the people.”