• It was a sham, say Okechukwu, Nwoye
By Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
The Enugu State Independent Electoral Commission (ENSIEC) has declared candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the winners of the November 4 local government council elections in the state.
Chairman of the commission, Chief Mike Ajogwu (SAN), who announced the results at the commission’s headquarters in the state, said the ruling party cleared the 14 chairmanship seats so far declared.
Ajogwu said PDP won the three seats in Udi, Awgu and Enugu North councils.
The party also cleared the councillorship seats in the three councils bringing the total councillorship seats won by the ruling party to 258 out of the total 260 seats.
He, however, declared that election did not take place in Eke and Obioma wards in Udi local government.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeamah and Director General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr. Osita Okechukwu, hail from Eke ward.
Ajogwu said he would have withheld the results for the chairmanship seat from Udi on account of the non-conduct of election in the two wards but because the total registered voters in the two wards would not be enough to affect the total results of the chairmanship position.
The PDP candidate in Udi, Ochi Nelson polled 54,331 votes while the APC candidate polled 4,731 votes.
But the opposition party, All Progressives Congress (APC), through the Director General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu, had dismissed the election as a sham, insisting that the officials of ENSIEC were card-carrying members of the PDP handpicked to do the bidding of the ruling party.
The APC state Chairman, Ben Nwoye, also expressed dismay over the conduct of the election in the state.
Okechukwu and Nwoye were reacting to the outcome of the elections which they alleged were marred by late arrival of electoral materials among other irregularities.
In his reaction, Okechukwu, a chieftain of APC, said: “The shambolic nature of local government council elections nationwide exhibited on November 4 in Enugu State, remains a paradox to the quest for devolution of powers from the federal to state tier of government.”
He expressed worry that since the country’s return to the fourth Republic, most state governments had debased democracy by conducting shambolic local government council elections.
The VON DG alleged that the same shambolic election took place in Enugu last Saturday.
Asked about the danger posed by such elections which pervaded all the states governments and all political parties, Okechukwu retorted: “It makes popular participation at the local government level impossible, hence debasing democracy. To compound matters, all state governments run a rubberstamp state House of Assemblies. Therefore no oversight functions at the state level.
“Consequently, the devolution of powers from the federal to the second tier of government seems a paradox; paradox in the sense that democracy cannot grow or survive without free and fair elections at the local government level.
“Imagine what could have happened to the opposition if there is state police, we could have been chased out of the polling precincts. To be honest, we patriots have to review our support for the devolution of powers.”
Reminded that APC governors also conduct “shambolic” local government council elections, Okechukwu said his concern was about the growth and survival of democracy in the country.
Nwoye on his part, said the election was characterised by wild spread violence in almost all the council areas of the state.
He alleged that reports reaching him had it that two people lost their lives at Oji River Local Government Area while several others sustained various degrees of injuries in other council areas, including Igboeze South.
According to Nwoye, the APC gubernatorial candidate in 2015 general election, Okey Ezeah, who hails from Igboeze South, was violently attacked and seriously injured by suspected thugs working for the PDP in his area, adding that “as I speak to you now, he is currently receiving treatment in the hospital.”
The APC state chairman said: “Like I predicted yesterday during a press conference, the ENSIEC Chairman, Ajogwu, has rubbished himself with this sham he put together in the name of election just to satisfy his pay masters, the PDP.
“It is quite unfortunate that there was wild spread of violence and bloodbath in Enugu on Saturday, just simply because ENSIEC wants to please the PDP.
Nwoye, who appealed to APC supporters to remain calm irrespective of the provocation, said the party does not believe in violence, but would seek redress in court at the appropriate time.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has congratulated the people and Government of Enugu State on the successful conduct of the November 4, 2017 local government elections in the state, describing it as the best council election in Nigeria’s recent history.
Ekweremadu, who commended the state government for its policy of non-interference in the electoral process, also congratulated the PDP on its outstanding victory, noting that it was just the beginning of payback to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for his developmental strides in the state in the time of financial crunch and the political peace he restored to the state.
He said: “The poor conduct of local government elections has been of grave concern to Nigerians in the constitution amendment process, but theSaturday council election conducted by ENSIEC is unarguably the best in recent years.
He add: “It is one of those rare occasions state electoral umpires have inspired confidence in the nation’s electoral process and it adds to the democratic credentials of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and the PDP.
“I commend the Ugwuanyi-led administration for ensuring that ENSIEC enjoyed total independence and the necessary resources, while also making it possible for the people to troupe out en masse to exercise their franchise in a secure, free, fair, and credible democratic process.”
On PDP’s landslide victory, Ekweremadu said: “This is just a prelude to 2019 when the people of Enugu will fully appreciate the Ugwuanyi administration for the equitable socio-economic development in the state, workers welfare, and political peace in the state.”
He enjoined the council chairmen and councilors-elect to key into the development agenda of the PDP administration in the state to ensure that the blessings of democracy trickled down to the people at the grassroots.