KALU EZIYI, UMUAHIA
The battle for the soul of the Abia North Senatorial District seat in Abia State has been rekindled. The seat became vacant following the nullification of the election of Senator Mao Ohuabunwa of the Peoples Democratic Party by the Court of Appeal, Owerri Division, late last year. His victory in the March 28, 2015 poll had earlier been upheld by the Election Petitions Tribunal, which sat in Umuahia, the Abia State capital.
THE RERUN CONTESTANTS
Those jostling for the Red Chamber seat include Ohuabunwa himself, former Governor of the State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu of the Progressive Peoples Alliance; Chief David Ogba Onuoha-Bourdex of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, and Mrs. Nma Lancaster-Okoro of the All Progressives Congress.
Since the pronouncement of the appellate court, the combatants have been holding meetings with both their supporters and stakeholders at various locations, just as their posters have once again begun to appear in every strategic location across the district. They have also been appearing at social functions, events and parties, to identify with such fora and also indirectly woo voters.
As the people are waiting for the Independent National Electoral Commission to announce the date for the poll, political observers and stakeholders in the district, and by extension the entire state, have been wondering about the factors that will work for and against the gladiators.
Beginning with Ohuabunwa, whose presence in the Red Chamber lasted for six months, he is from Arochukwu Local Government area, but grew up in Rivers State where he had his education. His foray into partisan politics dates to General Sani Abacha’s transition programme era of Representatives on the platform of the defunct United Nigeria Congress Party.
That Assembly was never inaugurated as it died with its initiator. With the coming of the present political dispensation in 1998, he joined the PDP and contested for the seat twice, both in 1999 and 2003, and won. He set his eyes on the Senate twice in 2007 and 2011 respectively, but failed to secure the party’s ticket.
Factors that will count for him include the experience he gathered at the Green Chamber as leader of the South-East caucus of the party. He was speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, which will be an added advantage to him. Outside the political field, he is very likeable and accessible. The Onunekwuru Oha (the people’s mouthpiece) as he is commonly called, enjoys keeping friends and has large youth followership. His political structure, Follow Better Organization, is very strong. He is also a philanthropist.
However, his first challenge on the minus side is the belief in some quarters that he failed to use his stay in the Lower Chamber of the National Assembly to ensure the reconstruction of the age-long dilapidated Umuahia-Bende-Ohafia-Arochukwu road.
The second factor is that his party seems to be losing its grip on the district. Its performance in the district in the last governorship election was but encouraging. Surprisingly, it lost four out of the seven House of Assembly seats in the district to APGA. Another factor that may dim his fate is Dr. Alex Otti’s victory against Governor Okezie Ikpeazu at the Court of Appeal.
For Orji Uzor Kalu, who is from Igbere in Bende Local Government area, his political career started during the Second Republic in 1983 when he won the election into the House of Representatives on the platform of the defunct National Party of Nigeria.
After that Republic was botched by the military, he went back to his private business from where he joined the PDP in 1998. In 1999, he was elected as the governor of the state and won reelection in 2003. To his advantage is the fact that he has always known how to pursue his dreams by making the required contacts and friends ahead
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