The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Wednesday declared the Labour Party (LP) Governorship Candidate, Dr Alex Otti, winner of the Abia State governorship election.
Professor Nnenna Oti, Returning Officer for the election, said Otti scored 175,467 votes to beat his main challenger, Chief Okey Ahiwe of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who polled 88,529 votes.
The victory marked the first state the LP would win in the 2023 governorship election held across 28 states of the federation. Otti will take over from the ruling PDP in the state come May 29, 2023.
Daily Trust takes a look at some factors Otti latched on to defeat Ahiwe who was backed by the incumbent Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu.
The massive movement, especially in the South East, in support of Peter Obi, the LP Presidential Candidate in the February 25 election spelt doom for the PDP in the state. This led to the shocking defeat of Ikeazu himself in the senatorial election. LP won 8 House of Representatives seats and one Senate seat.
The LP’s good performance in the presidential and National Assembly elections in the state was capped during the last Saturday’s governorship and state House of Assembly elections, which eventually led to Otti’s victory.
Quest for change
Many also argued that the people of Abia State were tired of PDP who has ruled the state for over 18 years and wanted a fresh breath of governance. This is coupled with the fact that the some set of politicians have continued to recycle themselves in government either as local government chairmen, commissioners or any other appointees.
The incumbent governor has been criticised for a dearth of infrastructure in some parts of state, particularly in Aba, where the roads are usually flooded during the raining season.
The member representing Aba South state constituency in the Abia House of Assembly, Hon Obinna Ichita, once condemned what he described as lack of infrastructure in his constituency.
In a statement in September 2022, Ichita, the deputy governorship candidate of APGA in the just concluded election, said all the important roads in Aba, the heartbeat of Ngwa land are impassable.
He pointed out that the two local government areas of Ukwa had been cut off from the rest of the state as a result of bad roads.
“Presently, strategic and important roads in Aba, the heart beat of Ngwa land lay in ruins. The two local governments in Ukwa are literarily cut off from the rest of the state due to bad roads,” he had said.
Governor’s relationship with workers
Teachers in public primary and secondary schools in the state are owed salaries for several months which prompted the state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to go on strike a few days to the election.
Although Ikpeazu announced mass promotion for the workers about a week to the election, it was not enough to save him and his party from ignominious defeats at the polls.
Power rotation is a serious conversation in Abia. The people believe that former governors Orji Uzor came from Abia North; Theodore Orji from Abia Central Senatorial District and Ikpeazu from Abia South. They expected that in 2023, power must rotate back to Abia North.
However, the governor endorsed Ahiwe, who is from the same Ngwa tribe as him, as the PDP governorship candidate. It was believed that this singular action made many people to revolt and supported Otti who hails from Abia North.
Mass defections from PDP
In the buildup to the elections, key members of PDP, including Umeh Kalu (SAN), the immediate past Anthony General and Commissioner for Justice, defected to LP.
Also, the member representing Isiala Ngwa North state constituency, Ginger Onwusibe, joined LP and was elected as member representing Isiala Ngwa South/Isiala Ngwa North Federal Constituency.
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