Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
The Abia State Independent Electoral Commission (ABSIEC) failed to get its acts right as the local government elections held yesterday was left floundering due to late arrival and in some cases non-arrival of electoral materials at the polling units. The poll which was supposed to commence at 8a.m. commenced between 1p.m. and 4p.m. in most polling units.
In areas where voting eventually commenced, the turn out of voters was very low.
By 5p.m. electoral materials were yet to arrive at three of the wards in Bende Local Government, namely, Itu Mbauzo, Umuimenyi and Uzuakoli spewing allegations by the opposition that there was grand design to starve their strongholds of voting materials.
“The ruling party Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state is trying to play some pranks,” said Mrs. Joyce Nwabuisi, a councillorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) for Ogbodiukwu ward after waiting endlessly for electoral materials that failed to arrive in all the five polling units of her ward. Nwabuisi, who is a journalist, lamented that her supporters were being denied the opportunity to express their support for her after mounting a vigorous campaign.
But when contacted on phone, the Chairman of ABSIEC, Justice Igbozuruike Akomas (rtd), dismissed the allegation of starving opposition strongholds of electoral materials, saying that the opposition was fond of criticism.
He insisted that the electoral body printed enough materials and distributed them to all the local governments and if the materials did not get to the intended polling units he was not in a position to know since he was not in the field.
“If the opposition has their facts let them go to court and ask for annulment. For me, I cannot cancel any election,” he asserted, adding that the tribunal has already been set up to handle issues arising from the poll. At Apumiri, the headquarters of Umuahia South Local Government Area, ad hoc electoral officers were massed outside the gate waiting endlessly for the electoral materials meant for their various areas of assignment.
It was a chaotic scene as a crowd of people jostled to get entry into the premises of the council headquarters where supervisors were said to be sorting out the materials.
The situation was slightly different at the polling unit located at Williams Memorial Grammar School, Afugiri Ohuhu in Umuahia North Local Government as electoral materials arrived at about 11a.m. with a number of voters, including elderly men who waited enthusiastically for voting to commence.
Chairmanship candidate of PDP for Umuahia North, Chidiebere Nwachukwu, said it was a refreshing development as the state governor; Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, has kept his word to hold the council poll as promised.
But the deputy chairmanship candidate of APGA for Umuahia South Local Government, said the governor was aware of the plan to starve opposition strongholds of electoral materials, adding that it was an unfortunate development.
“My fear is PDP has ulterior motive,” he said, adding that non-arrival of electoral materials in all the five poling units of Ogbodiukwu ward was not a mere happenstance.
However, the state Publicity Secretary of PDP, Chief Don Ubani, denied any involvement in the alleged starving opposition strongholds of electoral materials.
He stated that if there was any issue of non-arrival or late arrival of electoral materials, it could be due to logistics problem and the electoral body should take responsibility.