By Oko- Ume Nwamgbidi
Abia State Governor, Theodore Orji, has attributed the victory of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in last Saturday’s governorship supplementary election to the people’s acceptance of power rotation which he said was in the spirit of Abia charter of equity.
This is even as the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), in the state has protested the outcome of the poll, alleging widespread electoral malpractices.
Gov. Orji, while reacting to the result of the election which saw Dr. Ikpeazu emerging winner with 264,713 votes ahead of his closest rival, Dr. Alex Otti, who polled 180,882 votes out of the 472,124 total vote cast said Ukwa- Ngwa people deserved the right to produce the governor of the state like their kin from the other senatorial districts who had taken their slots on the seat of power.
While congratulating the Governor-elect, Gov. Orji expressed strong confidence that Dr. Ikpeazu would deliver on his electoral promises, describing him as an intellectual with a wealth of experience.
He advised him to be magnanimous in victory while appealing to losers to give him support in the interest of the state.
Reacting to the result as announced, the APGA agent in the election, Chief Ahamdi Nweke, said the party rejected the result, stressing further that APGA would challenge it at the tribunal.
He said his party had compelling evidence that the poll was massively rigged against its flag bearer, expressing hope that Otti would reclaim his mandate at the tribunal.
He accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), of “allowing itself to be used in furthering electoral crime.”
According to the election’s Returning Officer, Professor Benjamin Ozumba , the total valid votes was 462,684 while invalid votes were 9,440.
At the April 11 poll which was declared inconclusive, Ikpeazu had polled 248, 459 votes ahead of Otti who scored 165,406 votes but Ikpeazu added 16,254 votes to his tally at the re-run while Otti got 15,476 more.
Reacting to the party’s victory, PDP Chairman in the state, Senator Emma Nwaka, thanked Abians for keeping faith with PDP.
He described the victory as ” a new dawn that will bring positive changes” to the state, promising that “PDP will extend a hand of fellowship to the losers.”
He further said: “This is the time to heal our wounds. I recommend the Jonathan option to those who lost. They should concede defeat and pledge their support to the winner.”
Also reacting, Dr. Solomon Ogunji, attributed Ikpeazu’s victory to hard work and aggressive campaign by the party.
He said the long process involved in the contest and his eventual emergence were indications that democracy had come to stay in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the umbrella body of Ukwa Ngwa indigenes, the Ukwa Ngwa Professionals, has formally congratulated Ikpeazu on his ‘resounding victory’ at the just-concluded Abia re-run elections, Saturday, and subsequent emergence as the Governor of Abia State.
In a statement signed by Chief Theo Nkire, the group described Ikpeazu’ s victory as that ‘light over darkness; the victory of truth over falsehood, a victory for fairness, equity and justice.’
“We salute you, Dr. Ikpeazu, for your uncommon candour in the face of all provocation. We salute all Abia people for their ability to decipher the truth from falsehood and their decision to stand by the truth at all times. We salute you in particular, Chief Theodore Orji, the outgoing Governor of Abia State for keeping faith with the Ukwa Ngwa people and for standing by us to the end. We shall never forget.“We invite all Abia people and indeed, all friends of Abia State at home and in the Diaspora to join hands with Dr. Ikpeazu as he grapples with the gargantuan problem of moving Abia State to its pride of place as the number one State in Nigeria. We know that together, we can do it.It would be recalled that INEC, Sunday, declared incumbent Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha of the All Progressives Congress (APC); Dr. Ikpeazu of thePDP in Abia and Darius Ishaku of the PDP in Taraba, as winners of the re-run governorship elections which held Saturday in the affected states.While Okorocha defeated Emeka Ihedioha, of the PDP at the supplementary election conducted on Saturday polling 416,996 votes as against Ihedioha’s 320,705 votes, Dr. Ikpeazu of the PDP was declared winner by INEC having polled 264,173 votes ahead of Dr. Otti, the candidate of APGA who got 180,882 votes.
On his part, Ishaku polled 369,318 votes to beat his closest opponent and candidate of the APC, Sen. Aisha Alhassan, who polled 275,984 votes.