By Clifford Ndujihe, Steve Oko, Ugbochukwu Alaribe & Dickson Omobola
AFTER four days of political logjam and anxiety, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, at exactly 5.24 pm, yesterday, declared the Labour Party, LP Candidate, Dr Alex Otti, as the winner of the March 18 governorship poll in Abia State and threw the state into wild jubilation.
Otti polled 175, 467 votes to defeat his closest rival, Chief Okey Ahiwe of the ruling People’s Democratic Party, who scored 88,529 votes.
Chief Enyinnaya Nwafor of the Young Progressives Party, YPP, came third with 28,972 votes.
Returning Officer and Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology Owerri, FUTO, Professor Nnenna Oti, subsequently declared Otti the Governor-elect having polled the highest number of votes and satisfied all necessary conditions.
Otti won in 10 of the 17 LGAs, PDP got six and YPP one.
Otti had almost won the governorship election in 2015 when he contested against the incumbent Governor Okezie Ikpeazu but his ambition was stopped by the same Obingwa ‘mystery’ votes.
In 2015, Otti who then contested on the platform of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, had swept 16 LGAs when suddenly Obingwa brought in over 80,000 votes in favour of Ikpeazu, thus forcing the Returning Officer, to declare the poll inconclusive.
During a supplementary poll, Obingwa produced more than 80,000 to send the ex-banker parking.
With Otti’s emergence, it is the second time LP will be producing a governor, the first being Dr Segun Mimiko in Ondo State.
Otti’s election threw supporters of the LP and Abians into wide jubilation as the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Abia kicked, rejected the results and accused the LP of electoral brigandage and violence.
Abia State’s out-going Governor, Dr Okezie was one of the first to congratulate Otti on his victory, yesterday, saying: “Since we have come to the logical end of this battle, it is appropriate to congratulate the winner, Dr Alex Otti on his hard-fought victory. In every battle, there will always be a winner and in the spirit of sportsmanship and love for our state, the Governor-elect must see his victory as a higher call to service to the people of Abia State.”
Meanwhile, Otti, who thanked Abians for electing him, said the 24 years of siege in Abia and the journey to rebuild God’s own state had started. He extended a hand of fellowship to his opponents in the election saying that all their good plans that are consistent with building a virile Abia will be accommodated.
How Mbah floored Edeoga in Enugu
In Enugu, Mr Peter Mbah of the PDP won the very tough battle against Chief Chijioke Edeoga of the LP. Mbah garnered 160,895 votes while Edeoga got 157,552 votes. Mr Frank Nweke of the APGA polled 17,983 votes to come third while Uche Nnaji of the APC was fourth with 14,575 votes. Mbah was declared governor-elect at exactly 10:46 pm
With the announcement of the Abia and Enugu states governorship election results, 26 of the 28 states where polls were held on March 18 have been announced with the APC winning 15; PDP has 9; LP-1; and NNPP-1.
The elections in Adamawa, Kebbi have been declared inconclusive and the INEC is yet to fix a date to conclude the elections.
Ikpeazu congratulates Otti
Governor Ikpeazu, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Onyebuchi Ememanka, noted that Otti fought a long battle over a very long period of time and deserves commendation for his staying power and resilience.
“Since we have come to the logical end of this battle, it is appropriate to congratulate the winner, Dr Alex Otti on his hard-fought victory. In every battle, there will always be a winner and in the spirit of sportsmanship and love for our state, the Governor-elect must see his victory as a higher call to service to the people of Abia State,” he said.
The Governor further saluted the other governorship candidates who took part in the election, especially the PDP candidate, Sir Okey Ahiwe, for their doggedness.
Ikpeazu stated that the Governor-Elect should be given an enabling environment to run the affairs of the state from May 29, 2023, and urged the candidates not to distract the incoming Governor with court cases.
He said: “Having, myself, spent about three and half years in different courts and having experienced firsthand the distraction such cases can cause a leader, I appeal to every candidate in this election not to distract the incoming administration with court cases so that they will settle down and deal with the very demanding business of governance. Let us break this negative trend of subjecting our Governors to endless litigations and allow them to concentrate on providing good governance.”
He assured Otti that he will put in place every necessary measure to ensure a seamless transition from his administration to his.
Emenike’s campaign rejects result
Speaking on the declaration of Alex Otti as the winner of the Abia State governorship election, Prince Tony Eze, director of Media of Ikechi Emenike Campaign Organisation, said the APC is rejecting the result in its entirety.
Eze who spoke from the collation centre in Umuahia, said: “The Labour Party engaged in the worst form of electoral brigandage and violence. APC rejects the results in its entirety. We urge Abians to remain calm. We will articulate a response to the electoral heist in due course.”
The siege is over — Otti
In his acceptance speech shortly, Otti said: “With deep humility and a profound sense of responsibility, I wholeheartedly accept your mandate to be your chief servant for the next four years. Before I go on, I must first dedicate the victory to God the Father, the Almighty who makes everything beautiful in his own time.
“I also dedicate it to the millions of Abia citizens who have been the unfortunate victims of bad governance this past decade. As I acknowledge this victory, I am fully conscious of the huge expectations of millions of the good people of Abia State, who have been denied the dividends of democracy and good governance for such a long time.
“I want to sincerely thank every Abian and non-indigenes alike who participated in this election. As you are all aware, this was my third attempt at contesting for this office in my quest to implement my long-held vision of rebuilding Abia State as truly God’s own state. This third time, it pleased God to give us victory.
“In the words of one Labour Party stalwart, the siege is over. With your votes and the collective will of the people, we have broken the gates of hell and …as recorded in the holy book, the kingdom of hell shall not prevail against us.
“I will like to quickly compliment my colleagues in the just concluded elections and this would include Chief Okechukwu Ahiwe, Engr Enyinnaya Nwafor, High Chief Ikechi Emenike, Professor Gregory Ibe and the host of other equally qualified governorship candidates. It has been a hard-fought contest, and each of you gave his or her best in the quest to serve our beloved state.
“There is no doubt that all of us have very robust ideas as to how to move our dear state forward. I want to assure you that your ideas and dreams that are consistent with building a virile Abia State shall come to fruition under my watch.
“I, therefore, invite all of you to join hands with our administration in order to serve Abians, who have been victims of several years of maladministration and state capture. I have no doubt that you will be available to use the same energy and intellect to help rebuild our state and develop our people.
“Indeed, I see this victory as a call to service even as I come out of a bruising and long-run campaign, I know that this is just the beginning of the journey. There is a lot of work to be done and we must get all hands on deck to ensure that we take back out state and bring the much sought-after dividends of democracy.”
Wild jubilation erupted across the state as soon as Otti was declared winner of the contest.
Tricycle operators and car owners were doing all manner of acrobatic displays on major roads to the admiration of residents.
Some people were pouring powder on their bodies as is the case when a man’s wife gives birth to a newborn
Despite the late evening heavy downpour some residents especially youths and children were singing and dancing around the streets.
Some others were raining abuses on the outgoing PDP -led Government in the state for allegedly under-developing the state.
Yet others were chanting pro-Peter Obi and LP songs, dancing and praising God for emancipating Abia State from the shackles of political bondage.
Heavy gunshots were also heard from different parts of the state.
Former member of the House of Representatives representing the Ikwuano/Umuahia federal constituency, Mr Iheanacho Obioma, described the emergence of Otti as the beginning of a new Abia.
Obioma who was the Labour Party State Collation Agent said the struggles that led to Otti’s victory were between the forces of light and darkness.
He thanked Abians and the ‘Obidient family’ for standing firm behind Otti despite the stiff opposition by the ruling party and its agents.
The ex-lawmaker described the INEC as the hero of the election particularly the Returning Officer, Professor Nnenna Oti, who insisted on the rules of the game.
He said that it took a woman of courage in the mould of the returning officer to withstand pressures to compromise the poll.
The Methodist Archbishop of Umuahia Diocese, Archbishop Raphael Chibuzor Opoko, said he was excited about Otti’s election.
“I’m excited; we need a change. We prayed for it and it has happened. We have a state where workers are owed for years. When you come to church you will know how poor people are.
“The PDP has been in power for 24 years and there is no running water in Umuahia the state capital. Can you see any meaningful development here? So, Abians need a change to move forward,” he said.
Archbishop Opoko who said he had a revelation of Otti’s emergence about two years ago, said the ex-banker had no option but to deliver and vowed to personally lead a campaign against Otti, if he failed to perform.”
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