By Leonard Okachie
Umuahia, March 18, 2019
President Muhammadu Buhari has been called upon to give his assent to the amended Electoral Act to make the use of the smart card reader a law in the nation’s future electoral process.
Dr. Blessing Nwagba, the Governorship Candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Abia, made the call on Monday during a news conference in Umuahia at the end of the party’s post-election meeting in her campaign office in Umuahia.
She said that the use of electronic voting would help in no small measure to curb electoral malpractice in the country.
Nwagba alleged that the general elections in Abia were marred by massive electoral fraud.
She said that the ugly trend would be drastically checked, when the use of the card reader in elections had been made law.
The SDP flag bearer, however, said that her unimpressive performance in the election might not be unconnected with the last minute sabotage by the chieftains of the party.
She specifically alleged that the chairmen of the 17 local government areas (LGAs) and some party leaders betrayed her, a few days to the poll.
She said, “While I thank all those that genuinely supported me, I however, note that it was fraught with betrayal by the LGA party chairmen and some party leaders, five days to the gubernatorial election.”
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the LG chairmen ditched Nwagba, a few days to the March 9 poll, in preference for Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
They also urged her to step down for Ikpeazu, saying that she lacked the capacity to make any meaningful impact in the contest.
Speaking further on the party’s abysmal outing at the polls, Nwagba cited the “lack of support from the party’s national headquarters” and crisis that arose over the party’s authentic presidential candidate, as additional constraints.
She expressed gratitude to God that she was able to restrategise and drive the election to a logical conclusion, contrary to the widespread speculation that she had withdrawn from the race.
She called on the national leadership of the party to take steps to strengthen the party and make it “the credible alternative and third force that Nigerians are yearning for.”
She also admonished the president and governors-elect across the federation to study the manifestos of their opponents “and adopt ideas that could add value to development and governance.”
Nwagba, who is the only woman legislator in the Abia house of assembly, expressed disappointment that no woman won election to the house during the poll.
She said, “I feel embarrassed and disappointed that no woman won election into the house.”
She paid tribute to Rep. Nkeiru Onyejocha, who contested on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Isuikwuato/Umunneochi Fexeral Constituency and won.
“I want to use this medium to call on political parties to ensure conscious efforts at achieving women’s inclusion in governance in Nigeria and Abia in particular.”
She said that the 35 per cent affirmative should be pursued vigorously in order to ensure that women were not completely shoved aside in the nation’s political space.
In his brief remark, the state Chairman of SDP, Chief Chidi Nwosu, gave assurance that the party would continue to provide credible opposition to the ruling-Peoples Democratic Party through constructive criticism of any government’s unpopular policies and programmes. NAN reports that SDP polled 2,919 votes to trail behind PDP (261,127 votes), APC (99,574 votes) and All Progressives Grand Alliance (64,366 votes) in the governorship poll.