Gov. Theodore Orji of Abia State
By Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
Abia State Governor, Chief Theodore Orji Thursday walked out of a
gubernatorial debate citing hostile environment thereby taking the
shine off the event organised by the Catholic Church to enable the
governorship candidates sell their programmes to the voting public.
Orji was provoked to the level of abandoning the debate forum when he
was booed by a section of the audience immediately he was introduced
by the master of ceremony. Following the hostile reception, the
governor asked for the microphone and complained bitterly over the
manner he was heckled by a section of the audience.
He said he had expected that the church should provide a neutral
ground for a gubernatorial debate only for the venue to be populated
by “a partisan crowd” which he identified as supporters of the rival
Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA).
He therefore concluded that the venue was not conducive for him to
participate in the debate as according to him, there was no level
playing ground for all candidates and if it the debate must go on the
organisers should pick a neutral place. Efforts by the Catholic Bishop
of Umuahia, Most Rev. Lucius Ugorji, to placate Governor Orji and make
him change his mind failed as the Abia chief executive stormed out of
the conference hall of the Catholic secretariat.
As the governor was storming out the venue his supporters were surging
into the venue but turned back as their principal was already storming
out the forum.
Despite the absence of the governor, the forum organised by the
Justice, Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) in conjunction with
the Kolping Society of Nigeria still went ahead.
Of all the 15 gubernatorial candidates running the race, only five
attended the forum with the theme “Free, Fair and Credible Election
2011: Why do I want your vote? Those that came to explain why they
want to govern Abia include Prince Paul Ikonne of Action Congress
(AC), Rev Obioma Onyeaghara of Community Party of Nigeria (CPN),
Stanley Ohajuruka of Labour Party (LP), Comrade Chris Akomas of PPA
and Barr Emenike Owanta of Democratic Front of Peoples Federation
The gubernatorial candidates all spoke on the poor state of
infrastructure, education, moral and social issues but hey differed on
how they would turn things around for the good of Abians.