The presence of officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, at the June 23rd, 2021 primary of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), held at Professor Dora Akuyilli Women Development Centre, Awka and the clarification made between INEC and Senator Victor Umeh, during an interview with Channels Television, Lagos, seems to have put to rest, stories in some quarters that the Commission might not honour the outcome of the primary election.
Various media houses had earlier reported that INEC had responded to the APGA’s preparation for the conduct of its primary to produce its standard-bearer expected to hold today.
INEC in a statement signed by Barrister Festus Okoye admitted that the Commission was notified by the political party, but insisted that its processes and preparations fell short of certain provisions of the Electoral Act.
Okoye was reacting to a statement attributed to the Chairman of APGA Caretaker Committee in Imo State, Honourable John Iwuala, who said it was not the business of the electoral body on how a political party arrived at its list of delegates for its primary.
Okoye, in a statement made available to newsmen on Friday in Abuja, said Honourable Iwuala was ignorant of Section 85 of the Electoral Act which he noted, made it mandatory for political parties to notify INEC of the date of its congress where its ad-hoc delegates would be elected.
Okoye further argued that the outcome of Wednesday’s primary conducted by APGA could be subject to litigations by aggrieved aspirants since it fell short of provisions of the Electoral Act.
An investigation by Tribune Online and chats withs some stakeholders indicated that officials of INEC commenced monitoring the process from Dr Alex Ekwueme Square, where the accreditation took place to the Women Development Centre, where the final election and result were announced by the party electoral Panel, headed APGA Vice-Chairman South-West, Deacon Sampson Olarere.
The officials were five in number: two from the INEC headquarters in Abuja and three from Anambra office.
The INEC officials included Musa Husunu, Priscilla Ezeigwe, Ibe U. Ibe, Nkeiru Gibson and Millicent Izuegbu.
Airing his view on the purported INEC letter making rounds on the social media that the party’s delegate list was not approved by the Commission Senator Victor Umeh, revealed that APGA list was duly received and approved by INEC, just as the State Chairman of APGA, Sir Norbert Obi, described the act as orchestrated by some people he described as wishful thinkers.
The duo advised members of the party to stay together this time as being obedient to party principle making sacrifices, patience and perseverance always pay off.
The Member representing Anaocha, Dunukofia and Njikoka Federal Constituency at the National Assembly Chief Dozie Nwankwo, in his reaction, said that many party delegates believed in Professor Soludo’s capacity, as a result of which the victory was resounding, just as he expressed confidence in the ability of the party hierarchy to address some daunting challenges of the party before the November 6, 2021 guber poll.
The Speaker of Anambra State House of Assembly, Right Honourable Uche Okafor, and the member representing Njikoka Constituency Two at the Anambra House of Assembly, Sir Pete Ibida, described APGA as one family that believes in leadership and not by disobeying the 2010 Electoral Act, (Amended).
Also speaking, a member of the Board of Trustees of APGA, Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka, said that the world is in a challenging period that needs ingenious and creative leaders to turn around the fortunes of the followers, stressing that such qualities and more are not lacking in Professor Soludo.
He advised the aggrieved aspirants to support Soludo, and spiritual leaders and founders of the party to ensure victory for November 6.
Ezeonwuka warned INEC not to cause division among APGA family members that have been in unity since its inception in 2002.
Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr C-Don Adinuba, also advised political gladiators in the state to make the November 6 governorship election campaign, issue-based and rancour-free.
Mr Adinuba who described the APGA candidate as an internationally recognised economist and reformer said that the State government expects the forthcoming campaign to be issue-based and rancour free, as it had been in the last two previous governorship elections in the State.
The commissioner advised media practitioners, especially journalists from conventional and social media to display a high sense of professionalism in discharging their duties in order not to overhit the polity.
He maintained that it is part of the mass media social responsibility not to dance to the antics of disgruntled oppositions, otherwise, unsuspecting citizens who rely on the media for information and more importantly, education and guidance will be misled gravely.
The Information and Public Enlightenment Commissioner, reminded the Mass Media of journalism of conscience and national commitment, as Ndi Anambra prepared for the November governorship election.
In the same vein, the member representing Anambra West Constituency in the State House of Assembly, Patrick Obalim-Udoba, has praised the All Progressives Grand Alliance for the fair and transparent conduct of the party’s primary election in Anambra State.
Honourable Udoba who spoke to newsmen immediately after the election described the exercise as free, fair and transparent and thanked Governor Willie Obiano, who is the Board of Trustees Chairman of the Party, for providing an enabling environment for the successful conduct of the election.
The Lawmaker equally thanked the Independent National Electoral Commission’s observers that monitored the exercise and called on all other aspirants to join hands with the winner to ensure that the party emerges victorious in the November sixth Governorship poll in the State.
Udoba maintained that Professor Chukwuma Soludo remains the only candidate that could effectively consolidate on what Governor Obiano had already achieved, and also move the state to the next level.
He called on APGA faithful in all the political wards in Anambra State to support the policies of the current administration in the State led by a greater Anambra.
But on Friday Channels interview between Senator Victor Umeh, the former National Chairman of APGA and Barrister Festus Okoye (INEC national commissioner for Information and voters Education, on Sunrise daily, Barr Festus said that INEC had never at any time said that APGA would not participate on Nov 6 Anambra states guber election and it was not stated in their letter, besides, INEC recognizes Victor Oye and Labaran Maku as National Chairman and Secretary respectively.
“We did not say APGA will not participate in the election but what we are saying is that we were not notified”, Okoye said.
“INEC said APGA will participate in the election but it should not end there. We deal with the public and we are concerned about Public perception so we demand INEC withdraws that mysterious and misconstrued letter and re-write it,” Umeh argued.
Umeh, in his argument, said “INEC is a public Institution and APGA published her intention to conduct delegates election on June 15 on two national dailies on 21st April according to the electoral law. We issued a public notice on two national dailies”.
According to the former senator, representing Anambra Central Senatorial District, “INEC is overshooting what they intend to do as a regulatory body by laying a foundation for mischief. None of the four aspirants from APGA approached INEC so I wonder why the commission wrote such a letter. I don’t believe the secretary of the Commission consulted the legal department of INEC for if he did, the legal department should not have allowed that misleading letter to go viral and create panic to the public, especial in the minds of Ndi-Anambra”.
“Supreme court judgement on 8th Jan 2016 on Shinkafi vs Yari says that political parties must not write to INEC before conducting delegates election. INEC can never run away from this. Putting heavy energy on NOTICE means there is something else INEC wants to achieve. Supreme court has interpreted section 85 and says that a notice to INEC is not mandatory, why now? Umeh asked.
“INEC should withdraw that letter and re-write it and as we approach Nov 6 Anambra guber, they should not at any time take sides with any party and stop creating panic and confusion to the electorates that have made up their minds that Soludo is the solution to the people of Anambra State,” Umeh warned.
Credit: Nigerian Tribune