Ike Nnachi, Abakaliki
Mr Ifeanyi Eleje has picked the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) ticket for the Ebonyi South Senatorial Seat bye-run election slated for February 3, 2024.
At the primary election of the party, which held at the Amuro Mgbo Town Hall in the Afikpo Local Government Area, Ebonyi State, on Tuesday, Sir Eleje was returned unopposed through a popular Voice Vote by accredited 250 delegates and party members.
Declaring Eleje winner in the primaries, Chairman of the Electoral Committee, who also doubled as the Returning Officer of the party, Chukwudi Nwankwo, said the process was credible and devoid of any form of irregularities.
According to him, the Electoral Committee comprised five members namely Nwankwo, Chairman; Hon. Ken Okeh, Secretary; and Mr. Einstein Ogbonnaya; Bikisu Aliyu Bondinga; and Comrade Caleb Akingbade as members.
He said the committee duly followed the party and INEC guidelines and returned the candidate through a Voice Vote since he was the only aspirant in the contest.
He said: “We are here at Amuro Mgbo Hall to do our ward Congress and primaries to elect the person that will fly our flag in the forthcoming senatorial re-run in the Ebonyi South Zone, and this has been done successfully.
“We have returned Ifeanyi Eleje as the flag-bearer of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, as he was the only aspirant who showed interest to run and he has just emerged as a winner in the primaries.
“It was on the basis of Voice Votes since there was no other aspirant. We accredited our members and delegates.
“About 250 delegates were accredited and they all gave him their support through a Voice Vote, because there was no counter-view and opposition.
“This is allowed since there was no other aspirant contesting the ticket with Ifeanyi Eleje. Officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission were here from Abuja and Ebony State. So, it was a credible process and we followed the party guidelines and that of the INEC.
In his acceptance speech, the APGA candidate, Sir Ifeanyi Eleje said the outcome of the primaries was a testament that the Ebonyi South constituents needed him to represent them in the Senate.
Reiterating that the state was running a privatised form of political system, he stressed he was poised to serve his people in other to be part of the solution geared towards emancipating them from intimidation.
He said, “I feel happy about the outcome of today’s primaries, and it simply strengthens my belief that my people love and need me to represent them. I feel delighted that we are through with the primaries and I’m aware that this is a-100 metre race and we will see how it pans out.
“I would rather say that it should be a level playing ground for all the participants. I can’t guarantee it and I’m not in a position to say it’s going to be an equal opportunity for everybody.
“And I do believe that as we progress in the election process, and as we mature in the electioneering process, some of the things that will work against the smooth running will naturally fall away.
“I am hopeful that when the people speak clearly it’s more difficult to alter the outcome and I’m hoping that people will speak clearly.
“This is because we cannot have a state that’s privatised. We have to open up the space for people to bring what they have to offer; and if you don’t, people won’t bring what they have to offer.
“People are politically intimidated in this state, I can tell you that. I have always said I want to be part of the solutions, I don’t want to be complaining. I’m offering myself to be part of the solutions. I have a chance, and you could see it at the venue.”
Sir Eleje maintained that the Independent National Electoral Commission should conduct a free and fair bye-election on February 3rd, 2024 in the zone adding that he was not in a position to condemn the electoral umpire.
He, however, observed that the election presented another opportunity for INEC to redeem its image considering the myriads of criticisms that allegedly greeted the last general election.
“I want to give INEC the benefit of the doubts, because I won’t sit here and condemn an institution like INEC. I will not. In every organisation, there are bad and good eggs.
“But we will hope that having gone through the criticisms of the past elections that INEC will see it as its duty to launder its image in this re-run election.”
Meanwhile, The Ebonyi State Chairman of APGA, Ricky Okorouka, has disowned the congress saying the party has no candidate for the Senatorial bye election.
The Chairman stated this while interacting with Journalists in Abakaliki, the State Capital.
Okorouka said the party was yet to know who is going for Senatorial position for the party.
He said: “Up till today, 9th of January, 2024 , no candidate has approached the party that he wants to contest for Senatorial Seat for Ebonyi South Senatorial Seat, therefore anybody who is having illegal primary anywhere is nul and void.
“We are the leadership of the party in the State and there’s no reason for anyone to conduct and primary without our consent.
“No one has shown us any form to that effect.
“There has not been any Congress that has changed the leadership, the Congress ought to have held in May, 2023 but up till now even Independent National Electoral Commission INEC said it is not aware of any new leadership of the party,” Okorouka explained.
He urged the Members and supporters of APGA to come together and put the house in order so as to take over the leadership of the State.
The Financial Secretary of the party, Mr Ifeanyi Kizito, said no one would do anything without the leadership of the party at the state level.