Abia 2019: Why Ogah, Otti should Jettison Legal Battle


The 2019 general election has come and gone, while the winners are popping champagne, the losers are licking their wound given that Nigeria politics is winner takes all affair.
I had the rare privilege of covering the transition programme in 1999 as a young reporter in the ancient city of Kano. We were at the INEC office when Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the PDP was declared winner of the governorship poll. Also at the premises of INEC at that moment were some restive Kano youth who were on standby to cause mayhem should INEC dare to tamper with the results of that election.
It is quite instructive to note that Kwankwanso lost his reelection bid in 2003 to Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau of the APP, only to stage a comeback after eight years to reclaim the seat. That’s the dynamics of Kano politics. Today, before our eyes Dr. Umar Ganduje the incumbent governor of Kano state is at his wits end in the battle to win a second term. The ‘Gandollar’ incident did enough damage to his image that he lost the election at first ballot but for the runoff election decided by INEC. At any rate, about five incumbent governors are billed for runoff especially in the north were the votes probably count.
Now in Abia state, the self styled God’s Own State, things could be said to fall apart with the turn out of political events in this dispensation. First, in 2007 during the transition from civilian to civilian administration, chief T.A Orji then chief of staff to governor Orji Uzor Kalu was tapped on to become governor. He won the election while still at the prison custody over EFCC case bothering on money laundering. The circumstances of his emergence while facing charges of corruption was first of its kind in Nigeria’s political history. But his opponent, chief Onyema Ugochukwu pursued what he regarded as stolen mandate all the way to the supreme court. In fact, in an interview with this reporter during his first tenure, Orji attributed the slow pace of governance at that time to the plethora of court cases facing him.
The emergence of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu in 2015 was on its own controversial, given that the popular choice was Dr. Alex Otti of APGA. Otti won at the Court of Appeal, but the supreme court held otherwise. Also, the federal high court ruled that Dr. Uche Ogah should be sworn in as governor since Ikpeazu was not qualified to stand for election ab initio. At the end Ikpeazu was able to reclaim his mandate.
As the 2019 polls got closer, pundits predicted the fall of Ikpeazu for obvious reasons. Heavy odds were against him due to seeming lacklustre performance, yet he was returned. The governorship election itself was characterized by massive vote buying. In my community in Umuahia North where I monitored the election, I felt terribly ashamed on the way and manner party members used money to buy votes at polling units without recourse to the electoral guidelines. I also saw that some of the APC leaders at the grassroots abandoned Ogah to his fate, and were after their pockets.
I admire Ogah’s humility and charm, I also like Otti’s cerebral nature. 2015 was Otti’s, while 2019 was Ogah’s election to lose and we have seen the outcome, so INEC has spoken. At a joint press conference they rejected the results and called for its cancellation. They have only set the stage for the imminent legal fight.
If I were Ogah and Otti, I will forget about it though it might be painful, but in the overriding interest of Abia. The judiciary is said to be the last hope of the common man, but we have seen the Nigeria judiciary and how some of them have become merchants and overnight billionaires. It is Abia people that will suffer it at the end, and we pray that God should touch the PDP government to do the right thing.

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