APC’s attempt to connect Southeast through Kalu suffers setback
Ohuabunwa wins Abia North rerun
Efforts by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to bring the Southeast geopolitical to its fold through Chief Orji Uzor Kalu hit a brick wall yesterday as the former governor of Abia State narrowly lost the North Senatorial rerun poll to Mao Ohuabunwa.
Ever since the party won the 2015 general election, and the outcome of the June 9, 2015 National Assembly election, some APC leaders have been making frantic efforts to ensure an inroad into the Southeast geopolitical zone.
It was gathered that party chieftain became worried about the absence of an effective political mobilizer for the party in Southeast immediately after the general election, when it became obvious that the Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, does not enjoy the confidence of the people.
A source disclosed how “the party began massive leg work, meeting with some reputable political actors. But apart from a few defections of individual players, we could not get an arrowhead. The party thought that Orji Uzor Kalu could do the magic and opened talks with him.”
The source, a minister from the North, explained that with Kalu’s closeness to President Muhammadu Buhari and other party leaders, including former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, and Bola Tinubu, “some of us saw him as a good link to reach out to the Southeast.”
He noted that though some party leaders from the Southwest expressed misgivings about Kalu’s rejection of overtures to join the party at inception, what the former Abia governor have done in recent times shows that “he is one of us.”
He revealed that the problem with Okorocha is that he appears ready to jump ship, adding that party leaders who visited Owerri during the labour crisis with the government did not approve of his tactics, which they said suggested indifference to the image of the APC.
Kalu had, shortly after the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lost the presidential election to APC, mobilized his mother and brothers to join the victorious party, with the hope of rejoining them after concluding his election petition against the return of Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, as winner of Abia North Senatorial poll.
Though the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia upheld the March 28, 2015 election, the Court of Appeal, Owerri Division, nullified the election on December 11, 2015 and ordered a rerun within 90 days.
Yesterday, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), returned Ohuabunwa of the PDP, who won four local government councils, as the winner of the rerun poll thereby beating Kalu, who won only in his Bende Local Government Council.
Again, while Ohuabunwa of PDP scored 26,009 votes, Kalu, the Peoples Progressive Alliance (PPA) candidate, garnered 25, 814 votes, with the bulk of the votes coming from Bende.
The other candidates in the senatorial election, Dr. David Onuoha-Bourdex of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and Professor Nnenna Nma Lancaster-Okoro of APC, trailed the two candidates with 13,633 and 916 votes respectively.
If Kalu goes ahead with the alleged plans to join the APC, the outcome of the senatorial contest has greatly reduced the force and political weight of the defection. Governor Okorocha has said he is not embattled with his party, APC, or the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), stressing that “opposition elements in Imo and their hirelings were behind the ill-motivated stories in the media.”
In a statement signed by the Special Assistant to the governor on Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Mr. I.K Ogbonna, the governor said the good people of Imo had given him a resounding vote of confidence through a second term in office, saying he remained focused on the task of making Imo better.
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