*Jubilation as APGA hails news
By Olajide Meseko
Caught in multiple web of litigations against the candidates of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Senator Andy Uba and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Valentine Ozigbo, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday excluded them from the new list it just published.
The commission, however, enlisted candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Professor Chukwuma Soludo in the new list.
Not unexpectedly, the news was well received by the leadership of APGA, whichcommended the INEC for listing Soludo and his running mate, Dr. Onyekachikwu Gilbert Ibezim, for the November 6, 2021 Ananmbra State Governorship Election.
This is as there was jubilation in some parts of Anambra State, yesterday, especially, among government officials, over the renewed hope for Soludo as the APGA candidate.
But the governorship candidate of the Jude Okeke-led faction of APGA, Hon. Chukwuma Umeoji, has rejected the list released by INEC, declaring Soludo as the party’s authentic candidate.
Justifying its action, National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC, Festus Okoye, said the “Commission was served with the judgement of the Court of Appeal (Kano Division), which set aside the judgement of the High Court of Jigawa State on the leadership of APGA and the nomination of its candidates for the Anambra Governorship election”.
The court of appeal had quashed the order of the Jigawa State High Court that earlier excluded Solidly as the APGA candidate.
Okoye, however, explained that the published list was not the final list as the final list of candidates would be published on October 7, 2021 as provided in the timetable and schedule of activities for the election.
According to the statement, “The timetable and Schedule of Activities approved by the Commission on 18th January 2021, provides for the withdrawal/substitution of candidates in line with Section 35 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).
“Accordingly, by the deadline of 30th July 2021, fixed by the Commission, seven (7) governorship and eleven (11) deputy governorship candidates were substituted by eleven (11) out of the eighteen (18) political parties.”
In the new list, INEC published the names of eleven out of the 18 political parties contesting the governorship election on Saturday, November 6 2021.
Meanwhile, APGA, in a statement issued in Abuja and signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Tex Okechukwu, expressed joy that after several weeks of suspense and confusion, INEC had brought some respite by obeying the Kano Court of Appeal judgment.
The party, however, regretted that INEC almost destroyed the nation’s democracy by publishing the name of somebody, who had no business being there in the first place, thanking God for his mercy and love.
It also used the opportunity to congratulate millions of its supporters for their steadfastness, courage and loyalty to APGA.
“We thank our numerous supporters, well-wishers and friends across party lines for standing by us throughout the trying period,” the release stated, and congratulated Soludo and his deputy on this feat, praying God to bless and keep them.
“Together, we will work to repeat the 21/21 record we set in 2017, because our government in Anambra State has performed creditably,” the statement concluded.
However, there was jubilation in Anambra, especially among government officials, over the enlisting of Soludo APGA’s candidate for the Anambra governorship election.
At Aroma Junction in Awka, some appointees of the Anambra State governor were seen jubilating.
A special assistant to the governor on media, Mr Chidiebele Obika, described the news as the best news of the year. He said it was a good omen for the party, coming just a day to the inauguration of the campaign council of the APGA.
“This is to show that God’s hand is in this project. Tommorow (Friday), the APGA campaign council to be headed by the governor, Chief Willie Obiano, will be inaugurated. This is a very heartwarming news.”
THISDAY gathered that the Anambra State government has concluded plans to make the inauguration of the campaign council of the APGA a big show.
A message sent to all government appointees, which was sighted by THISDAY read: “His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Anambra, Chief Dr. Willie Obiano has directed that all Political Appointees attend the Inauguration of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) Gubernatorial Campaign Committees (National, State and Local Government).”
The event has been slated to hold at the Dr. Alex Ekwueme Square, while all government officials and appointees were expected to attend in their APGA Uniforms.
But the governorship candidate of the Okeke-led faction of APGA, Umeoji, while rejectingthe new INEC list, in a statement, insisted that he would go ahead with his campaignregardless.
The statement read: “The attention of the Ag. National Chairman of APGA, High Chief Jude Okeke, has been drawn to a Press Release by the Independent National Electoral Commission titled: ‘Candidates For Anambra Governorship Election’ dated 19th August, 2021,” saying by the provisions of both the Electoral Act and the INEC time table, INEC ought not to make any other publications of candidates until October, which would be the final publication.
“This publication by INEC is unknown to law and should be discountenanced as we would not be party to aiding INEC in violating the laws of our land. APGA will consider an action in contempt against the Commission as it has not gone down well with Ndi Anambra to have a neutral electoral umpire succumb to the whims and caprices of a section of the political class.
“The launch of the campaign, which will lead to Umeoji winning the November 6 governorship election and becoming the next governor of the state will hold next week. The authentic Chairman of APGA, High Chief Jude Okeke, will be presenting the flag of the party to Umeoji at the launch of the campaign that will be attended by party leaders, members and loyalists across the state and the country, who have been yearning for the comforting touch of Hon. Umeoji as Governor of Anambra State.
“We are confident that the Supreme Court will correct the wrong done by the appellate court,hence, we shall not be distracted from our plans to campaign in all parts of the state to make our programmes and plans for the state known to the people. We entertain no iota of doubt that our victory both at the apex court and at the polls is certain.”