Nta Orji Uduma writes that the rerun poll this Saturday in Abia North Senatorial District is a battle that will separate the boys from the men
Ahead of the March 5 rerun for Abia North senatorial zone of Abia State, political activities in the zone have heightened with political parties and candidates fine-tuning their strategies for victory at the poll.
Visibly, four political parties have fielded candidates for the election and they include the All Progressives Congress (APC) with Nnenna Nma Lancaster-Okoro as candidate; Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Hon Mao Ohuanunwa; All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief David Ogba and  Chief  Orji Uzor Kalu of the Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA).
The Court of Appeal sitting in Owerri had last year sacked Senator Mao Ohuabunwa of the PDP and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a fresh election for the senatorial zone.
The PDP candidate Ohuabunwa was declared winner of the election which was conducted by INEC in April 11 and the tribunal which sat in Umuahia upheld the election in which Orji Uzor Kalu of the PPA challenged the outcome of the exercise.
But delivering judgment on the Appeal filed by the PPA candidate, Justice I.G. Mbaba noted that the senatorial poll which produced Ohuabunwa of the PDP was marred by high level irregularities and that the results were mutilated.
The judges therefore ruled that “it was better for a fresh election which would be transparent and credible because the previous poll was marred by fraud and the results were mutilated”. The judgment of the Appeal Court was described victory for democracy as there was proven evidence that the mandate of the people was subverted in that election.
But as the political parties and their candidates return to the status quo ahead of this Saturday’s rerun, the electorate in the zone expects that INEC performs a credible election that would reflect the wishes of the people in the zone. The election is poised to be a battle between the giants, political ‘Irokos’ and the biblical David, who are rated underdogs that might pull surprises in the poll.
Political analysts opine that the zone has suffered underdevelopment, poverty and neglect since the advent of the present political dispensation and that despite the caliber of politicians from the zone, who had represented the people, there is nothing on the ground to show for it.
Political observers and opinion polls conducted within the zone show that the people are desirous of change. They want to try new hands and new names as old faces, who have dominated the political scene of the zone had failed the expectations of the people.
A non-governmental organisation under the aegis of Mandate for Good Governance in Abia North (MAGGN) which conducted an opinion poll in the zone came up with a result that the people of the zone want change.
MAGGN said “Over 80 per cent of the respondents from the zone have become disenchanted and disillusioned by the failure of the so called big names in the zone since 1999 and want a change, which they believe would up-turn their political fortunes for better.
Briefing journalists after their exercise recently in Umuahia, the leader of MAGGN, Orji Eke Udensi, said “Abia North people yearn for change and they see the candidate of the APC, Nnenna Nma Lancaster-Okoro as a better candidate that is outstanding in all ramifications and stands a better chance of effective representation of the zone. He said a majority of the electorate in the zone see him as the symbol of change that would transform and connect the zone to the center politics.
According to him, the electorate in the zone had decried what they have suffered under the hands of inept politicians, whose only achievements have been to enrich their pockets while the zone continued to wallow in abject poverty and under development.
“The people said they had a governor from the zone, who was at the saddle for eight years and many others, who had represented the zone at the federal level and the National Assembly but the question is: what have they attracted to the zone in the past sixteen years?”  The organisation observed.
MAGGN noted that there is no federal presence in the zone. All the federal roads in the zone are death traps, the hospitals even the only one from the state located at Ohafia has been overgrown by weeds and rodents under the watchful eyes of a former governor from the zone.
“We don’t want our people to be deceived again by this money bags, whose stock in trade is to come out during elections and give the people peanuts from their ill-gotten wealth after which the people are abandoned in penury.
“We have critically assessed all the candidates currently jostling to represent the zone in the senate and we have come to the conclusion that the APC candidate Lancaster-Okoro has an impeccable character and pedigree and possesses the best credentials with the interest of the people at heart and would make a better senator for our people”.
Udensi, therefore, called on the people of the zone to be vigilant and vote for the APC candidate for a better Abia North that would be linked to the centre for the positive development of the people of the zone and appealed to INEC not to compromise the wishes of the people of the zone as well as avoid a repetition of flaws that characterised the   cancelled exercise.
But the APC candidate enjoys the overwhelming support of the people as they root for a change especially considering the pedigree of the contestant and her intimidating qualifications and experience.
Lancaster-Okoro is from Ugwuavo Village in Arochukwu Local Government Area of Abia State. She is a Telecommunications Engineer and a Lawyer. She combines several years of legal and business experiences, communication expertise and professional consulting to create insightful, motivating and highly customised executives services to public and private sector clients.
She is an experienced international lawyer, who understands the unique challenges faced by lawyers handling cross border issues. She is a graduate of English/philosophy combined Hons, from the University of Lagos and trained as a network and Telecommunications Engineer in the United Kingdom before She later qualified as a lawyer.
She gained a post-graduate diploma in law at Middlesex University London and completed her law school at the College of Law, Sore Street, London before she went back to Middlesex University for a Master’s Degree in International Economics Law (LLM) in which she achieved a distinction in her dissertation on intellectual property rights and an overall merit in 2004.
She also attended BPP in London for a professional Skills Course and passed the relevant business Finance exams in 2009. She was awarded a scholarship from Harvard University (Herchel Smith) in 2006 for a PhD Course in Intellectual Property Rights. She presently consults for major International firms and also runs an NGO that helps to resettle women affected by Violence – REWOVINA.
Speaking with journalists recently at Ohafia, Lancaster-Okoro dismissed her opponents as lacking the intellectual prowess for the effective representation that would turn around for the best, the political development of the people of the zone.
“What I have, my opponents don’t have. I have compassion but they don’t have it because if they have it Abia North Senatorial zone wouldn’t have remained underdeveloped as it is today after their many years of governance in the state and country.
“Some of them come out without knowing what the Senate entails, just because they have cornered wealth meant for the people, they move around giving people peanuts. We need human development and these people have not given it to our people in the past years,” she said.
Lancaster-Okoro stated in her manifesto to perform the roles of a parliamentarian, which are lawmaking, holding government to account (oversight duties),  solving constituency problems and promoting the interests and economy of her constituency, supporting her political party policy and working with civil society organisation.
Many residents of Abia State see the APC candidate as a gem for the zone and the country and despite the fact that she is new on the turf; she has the confidence and possesses what would turn the political expectations of her people into reality. But while she is riding on a high profile acceptance and overwhelming endorsement across the zone, her opponents are not faring better.
-Uduma wrote from Umuahia
As the political parties and their candidates return to the status quo ahead of this Saturday’s rerun, the electorate in the zone expects that INEC performs a credible election that would reflect the wishes of the people in the zone. The election is poised to be a battle between the giants, political ‘Irokos’ and the biblical David, who are rated underdogs that might pull surprises in the poll