Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Abia Governor-Elect, Dr Alex Otti; and former member representing Umunneochi state constituency in the Abia State House of Assembly, Hon. Ikedi Ezekwesiri, have sharply disagreed over the right of the out-going administration in the state to conduct the proposed local government election in the state.
The Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu-led Government had proposed to conduct a fresh council poll before the expiration of its tenure on May 29, but there is a court injunction restraining the out-going administration from pushing ahead with the proposal.
Hon. Ezekwesiri who is the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, chairmanship aspirant for Umunneochi Local Government Council spoke with newsmen at the PDP secretariat Umuahia where he came to pick his nomination form.
He insisted that Ikpeazu as long as he remained the incumbent Governor of the state, had the powers to exercise his constitutional authorities until the midnight of May 28.
The former lawmaker said that nobody should prevent the Governor from exercising the powers conferred on him by the constitution.
“The law is trite that the tenure of a sitting Governor will elapse on the midnight of the day preceding his tenure expiration.
“It suffices therefore, that all the authorities bestowed on him by the constitution subsist until he leaves office.
“So, a governor- elect that presents himself to be democratic and civil, cannot just wake up and dissolve a democratically elected Local Government Executive.
“It will be irresponsibility, and smacks of political rascality for Otti to wake up and dissolve a democratically elected Local Government Executive simply because it was not conducted by him.
“It’s only reasonable to be civil and descent in approaches to governance. When you go beyond civility and decency, you lose credibility .”
However, when contacted, Otti said any election held in violation of a subsisting court injunction would amount to exercise in futility.
The governor-elect who spoke through his Media Aide, Ferdinand Ekeoma, said there was already a court injunction restraining the out-going administration from conducting the proposed council poll.
He said that the court injunction must be respected otherwise anything done in the contrary would be voided.
“The position of the governor-elect is the position of the law. There is a court order restraining ABSIEC from conducting any council election. What that implies is that if ABSIEC flouts that order and goes ahead to conduct the election, it will amount to a nullity. It will amount to an act of illegality and, naturally, it stands nullified.
“Until the court order is vacated anything done will amount to waste of time and resources. It’s not for Ikedi Ezekwesiri to determine the powers of Otti. The law has defined the powers of the Governor.”
On why he is in the contest, the former lawmaker who survived a kidnap attempt on January 10 while driving back to Isuochi, said the quantum of love shown him by the people while he was at the hospital following deadly gun shot wounds inspired him to seek a platform to reciprocate the gesture.
The ex-lawmaker identified insecurity bedeviling Umunneochi as one of the major challenges he would tackle if elected into power.
He described the menacing activities of bandits believed to be herders in the area, and vowed to make the area safe again for the people.
“My decision to join the race is more or less a reciprocative gesture. When kidnappers shot me on January 10, the quantum of love my people showed me while I was in the hospital was unprecedented. So, I development great debt of gratitude for them. I’m seeking a platform to return gratitude for the love Umunneochi people showed me.”
He also promised to give a facelift to rural roads in the council, provide health centres and promote agriculture.
“I want to restore security to Umunneochi so that our people should start returning home without fear of being kidnapped again.”
On his chances at the poll considering the abysmal performance of the PDP at the just-concluded general election, the former lawmaker said ‘Obi tsunami’ that affected the fortunes of the ruling party in the previous elections would have no effect in the forthcoming council poll, which, according to him is local.
He further said that the quality, capacity, acceptability and antecedents of the individual candidate and not the party would determine ones success at the poll.
“This is a local election. It wouldn’t be affected by the Obi wave. My acceptability and pedigree speak for me. People paid for my nomination form and 70% of them are from outside the PDP.”
He also said he was favoured by the prevailing local zoning arrangement at the Council, insisting that it is the turn of his Mbato clan in Zone 1 to produce the elected Council Chairman at this time.
“By our local political arrangement, it’s the turn of Zone 1 where I come from to produce elected Chairman this time. In Zone 1, we have Amorie and Mbato. Amorie had produced elected Chairmen in the Late Chidiebere Ude, and Ugochukwu Egbu. They also have the current Commissioner, so, Mbato clan should produce the chairman.”
Hon. Ezekwesiri identified the N4.5 billion Ubahu/Nneato/Aku/ Ihube road project; the N1.3 billion Nkwoagu Isuochi erosion control; N93 million Imo River Bridge, among others, as some of his key achievements while in the House.
He promised to do more for the people if given the opportunity.