APC, PDP bank on run-off, Obi, party allege vote buying, others

The All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party have expressed optimism about upturning the expected victory of the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, in the Anambra State governorship poll held on Saturday.

The two parties said if certain anomalies in the poll were corrected, they would emerge victorious in the end.

They also said the supplementary election in the Ihiala Local Government on Tuesday (today) would brighten their chances of winning the poll.

Soludo had been declared the winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission in 18 local government areas where the results had been declared before the collation of results was suspended to give room for the supplementary poll in Ihiala.

Ihiala has about 148,000 registered voters. Soludo had got about 103,000 votes, while his closest challenger, Valentine Ozigbo, polled about 51,000 votes.

The state Chairman of the APC, Basil Ejidike, said the party was short-changed in most of the results announced.

He said in the Idemili North Local Government Area, where APC scored over 10,000 votes, INEC cancelled the result.

Ejidike denied rumours that he slumped after he heard about the seemingly poor performance of his party at the poll.

He said, “I didn’t collapse after hearing the result of the poll. My polling unit is 006 Bridgehead Ward 2 in Onitsha South. I had 95 per cent there. How can I collapse in such a situation? “We didn’t call for the cancellation of an election that is ongoing. We didn’t threaten court action. All those were fake news.

“We all expected INEC to do well in the election, but we were surprised about the malfunctioning of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation system. It took me 15 minutes to be cleared. Because of the malfunction of the machine, I visited the INEC office in Onitsha eight times.”

He called on the electoral umpire to cross check the results of the Orumba North Local Government Area and effect the necessary corrections.

“In Idemili North, results were collated and the APC scored 10,480, but surprisingly, INEC cancelled the results of that area,” Ejidike added.

For the governorship candidate of the PDP, the battle is not over yet.

Ozigbo expressed optimism that the PDP would emerge victorious at the end, stating that Ihiala was not the only place where the election failed to hold.

“We have the statistics and know the areas where INEC could not conduct the election on Saturday and we call on INEC to ensure that it conducts the election in those places,” he said.

According to him, with over 248,000 votes at stake in Ihiala and other places, where election did not take place, the party still has the hope of producing the next governor of the state.

He regretted the impact of vote-buying, which he described as a major issue in the nation’s political development.

Ozigbo stated, “After Ihiala, other places where election did not take place will follow, and the Independent National Electoral Commission must obey the electoral law and conduct election where it did not hold.

“The party has all areas where the election did not hold and will be happy if the election is held there.”

On his next move, Ozigbo said the PDP was only concerned about the supplementary election for now and would decide on the next line of action after Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the state government has assured the people of the Ihiala area of adequate security during the poll.

A statement by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof Soludo Chukwulobelu, read in part, “This is to inform the public, particularly residents and voters in the Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State that the Independent National Electoral Commission has fixed Tuesday, November 9, 2021 as the date for the 2021 Anambra gubernatorial supplementary election for the Ihiala Local Government Area only.

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“The Anambra State Government, working with relevant security agencies, hereby assures Ndi Ihiala that adequate security arrangements have been made to protect lives and property during the election.

“All are encouraged to come out and vote for the candidates of their choice. As Ndi Ihiala may have observed, the election was successfully and peacefully held in the other 20 local government areas of Anambra State and INEC has duly announced the results.”

Meanwhile, INEC has announced a slight adjustment to the timing of the supplementary election.

According to the commission, voting will commence by 10am and end by 4pm.

The National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, INEC, Festus Okoye, made the announcement in a statement on Monday titled: ‘Anambra State governorship election 2021: Adjustment in voting timeline for Ihiala LGA’.

He said, “Following the suspension of collation of results in respect of the 2021 Anambra State governorship election as announced yesterday (Sunday) by the State Collation/Returning Officer and the decision of the commission to hold election in the Ihiala Local Government Area on Tuesday, November 9, the commission, in line with extant rules and regulations, has made a slight adjustment to the commencement and closing time for the said election.

“Accordingly, polling in respect of the supplementary election for the Ihiala Local Government Area will commence tomorrow (today) at 10am and end at 4pm.

“This decision, which will be strictly complied with, has been taken following a careful review of the prevailing situation in Anambra State and is being widely shared with the stakeholders, including security agencies.”

Meanwhile, a former governor of the state, Mr Peter Obi, has condemned the Saturday election, alleging that the exercise was characterised by voting buying.

Obi said this in a statement made available to one of our correspondents in Awka, the state capital on Monday.

He said, “There is no hope in this country. I vehemently and consistently insist on not being part of sharing money even if my household will vote against me because of that.

 “I have travelled all over the world and studied development, no successful and fruitful democracy elects her leaders based on money shared. Such crude practice makes nonsense of character, leaders and their manifestos.

“Let me give you an example with Ayamelum Local Government Area of the state. The only road infrastructure in that local government, as well as their headquarters, were built by me, for which I spent over N7bn.  How would they expect me to give them N10,000 to N20,000 each to vote? Is it not absurd?”

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