Ike Nnachi, Abakaliki
The decision by Ebonyi State Government to impose a N5m payment on political parties wishing to use schools and other public arenas of government to hold rallies ahead of next year’s election has attracted condemnations from opposition parties in the state.
Two leading opposition parties in the state, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have described the decision as undemocratic and backward.
Governor Umahi had signed an executive order last week which stipulates that parties must write to and get permission from the Education Commissioner before being allowed to use any school premises for campaign.
The order also stipulates that a N5m down payment must be made before the approval, which will be used to repair any damages that may occur during the rally.
Reacting to the order, a chieftain of the PDP, Abia Onyike, in a statement said, Governor Umahi is making a mockery of democracy.
Onyike, who is the Spokesperson of Anyichuks Grassroots Support Organisation, a support organisation of the PDP governorship candidate, Ifeanyi Odii said the ruling APC wants to stop other parties from campaigning so as to have the upper hand during the election.
“Governor Umahi is making a mockery of Nigeria’s democracy because he is a stranger to fortune. He wants to stop other political parties from campaigning so as to be returned unopposed alongside other candidates of his party.
“His attitude to politics is strange and backward. But I tell you, he is going to fail woefully. Now Umahi has resorted to crude tactics to make up for his atrocities. But he will be disgraced,” he said.
Also reacting, spokesperson of APGA in the State, Chibuike Nwanchor, said the order is against the tenets of democracy.
He noted that his party will not allow the order to stand.
He said: “Such an order is against the tenets of democracy and the government’s plan not to allow a level playing ground for other political parties to operate in the state is evil, undemocratic and unacceptable to us.
“We are against such an order and will not allow that in a state that’s owned by everyone. Everyone is aware of government’s effort to ensure that no other party exists in the state.
“APGA gubernatorial candidate’s billboards are attacked and destroyed almost everyday in the state because of their selfish interest, we paid all the money required to ROCANA that is in charge of billboard advertisements in the state and ROCANA settles the state capital territory that is in charge of the law they enforced yet they chose war.
“Last time we went to Iboko in Izzi LGA to commission our party office, they instructed their men of “Ebubeagu Security Network” to attack us.
“We are tired of being caged by the illegal policies of the State Government. We want the world to know that Umahi is not providing a level playing ground for other political parties in the state to thrive.
“But our joy and strength is that Ebonyians have taken the steps to ensure all hands join APGA to deliver Prof. Bernard Ifeanyichukwu Odoh, a man who has mapped out plans to redefine Ebonyi and bring back the lost glory of the state,” Mr Nwachor said.
Governorship candidate of PDP, Ifeanyi Odii, described the restriction as undemocratic and unconstitutional.
Odii vowed that the party will resist the action of the government which according to him was against the electoral act.
“The new electoral act supersedes every other laws which made it very clear that public places should be allowed for campaigns.
“I know that we will not allow this because it is unconstitutional and anything you are doing that is not the constitution is unconstitutional,” he stated.