By Johnson Ikechukwu
It is not a surprise to those familiar with the politics of the Senate that the struggle for who takes what at the red and green chambers has started even as the 9th National Assembly would be inaugurated in June, 2019. It is not out of place to seek for leadership seats at the National Assembly but it becomes worrisome when some politicians who are unaware of legislative business goes around peddling rumours that President Muhammadu Buhari is asking them to take a shot and lead the Senate. President Buhari will never ask any Senator to seek the position or foist an inexperienced man on the Senate. The office of the Senate President is not a place for neophytes neither is it a place for inexperienced people considering the fact that 1999 to 2019 is really a long road traveled.
Despite the several upheavals that beleaguered both chambers of the National Assembly, what it does not need now is an unsettling bickering or bringing in a man who may unsettle the perceived smooth ride of transition from the 8thNational Assembly to the 9th Assembly
Indeed, there are many ranking Senators who will seriously oppose a lone wolf whose zone could only produce two APC Senator to dream of the position of being the President of the Senate.
The manner INEC managed some of the Senatorial contests also calls for concern. A good example here is the Abia North senatorial election. This poll was obviously inconclusive. The result announced for Abia North is strange. While the total number of cancelled votes was over 38,000, the margin of win was only 10,400.
The position of the law concerning elections where the total number of cancelled votes is more than the margin of win is not ambiguous. According to the Electoral Act, a re-run ought to have been rescheduled in the affected polling units. Fully aware of the provisions of the law, the Returning Officer still went ahead to announce the figures scored by the various political parties.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, should, as a matter of urgency, arrange for a re-run in the district to determine the winner of the contest. It only amounts to broad -day robbery of the people’s mandate and mockery of democracy for that result to be allowed and for any man to lay claims to a mandate that was never conferred on him by the people. Any attempt to circumvent the will of the people should be vigorously resisted by the relevant institutions in the interest of our democracy.
The Senator Mao Ohuabunwa Campaign Organization informed the general public that INEC operatives, in their haste to arrive at a pre-determined conclusion, manipulated the electoral process in the Abia North Senatorial elections to the shock of all well-meaning patriots who believe in democracy.
Ohuabunwa Campaign Organization said: “In this respect, it is tragic that INEC could conduct an election without the issuance of form EC40G, a form used to capture cancelled votes and places where there was no voting. Furthermore, there was no Ward collation in the entire Bende Local Council Area and this is not acceptable in any way.”
Ohuabunwa has demanded that the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Abia State should direct the Returning Officer of the Abia North Senatorial Election to make the requisite declaration in accordance with the dictates of Rule 17E(e) of the guidelines for the conduct of elections issued by INEC by cancelling the elections completely.
Ohuabunwa of the PDP stated: “There was massive and arbitrary purported cancellation of valid votes in 72 of the 149 polling units in the 11 Wards of Arochukwu, 32 in two Wards of Nkporo (17 in Ndi Agbo and 15 in Ndi Elu), and so many other units across the Abia North Senatorial District. This is in conflict with the results earlier announced and pasted at the various units in accordance with the Electoral Act; besides the hijacking of the unit results in Bende LGA, INEC cohorts connived to manipulate figures at will and had a field day allotting scores across the 13 Wards, over 30,000 registered voters and 10,000 potential votes were disenfranchised as a result of the orchestrated and predetermined fraudulent act
“Much as it is painful and going to be a herculean task to try to redress the grave injustice, it is tantamount to fraud to declare the result of Abia North Senatorial Zone after cancelling 72 units in Arochukwu and over 21,000 votes in Nkporo.
“According to the declared results of the five local governments in their different headquarters by the Returning Officers, Isuikwuato recorded 8317 votes for the APC followed by the PDP with 4,609 votes.
“In Ohafia, APC recorded 5521 votes while PDP had 4861 votes. In Bende, APC had 10,701 votes while the PDP recorded 4,875 votes. In Arochukwu, APC recorded 1166 votes while the PDP had 843 votes.
“Meanwhile in their bid to confuse and hastily rush to conclusion, they were hasty to jump into conclusion by announcing that Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa lost the Abia Senatorial elections. For the avoidance of doubt, Mazi Sam, a renowned pharmacist, Chairman of Neimith Pharmaceuticals has never contested any election into any political post but Distinguished Senator Mao Ohuabunwa of the PDP.”
Little wonder the APC-led federal government has constantly been bashed over alleged bias and selective justice in its anti-graft war. While the opposition is curiously persecuted and prosecuted even without credible evidence most times, suspected corrupt individuals in the party are rather shielded.
Back to the issue of the race for Senate Presidency, it is only those who live in the world of fantasy that will expect a fresher with little or no legislative knowledge to be elected President of the senate that has many ranking members, some serving their fifth tenures.
It is not a bad thing or idea to build Igbo coalition for the plum job of Senate President but it will certainly cause disaffection within the APC, since the party is yet to take a position on the zone that will produce the senate president. Whatever decision the APC leadership takes will abide by the existing tradition of the red chamber on how its President is selected.