*Victory was well deserved – Ekweremmadu
*APC rejects result
*Observers commend Ugwuanyi, security agencies
*Election was free, fair – NANS
From Enugu, CHHUKS EZE, who covered last Saturday’s Enugu council election, reports that it was an exercise remarkable for its peaceful and orderly conduct, save for a few hiccups here and there.
Results of the just-concluded local government election in Enugu State, as officially announced by the State Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Michael Ajogwu, SAN, appears to have reaffirmed the firm control of Enugu State politics by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). PDP recorded a landslide victory in the exercise, sweeping all the 17 Chairmanship positions as well as 260 councillorship seats.
Announcing the results Sunday, barely 24 hours after the election, Ajogwu, said he was satisfied with the performance of ENSIEC throughout the process. He also expressed gratitude to God that no life was lost during and after the election, in spite of threats from some leaders of a named major opposition party, in the state, which had threatened fire and brimstone a few days before the election.
While entertaining questions from journalists at a press conference, midway into the announcement of official results of the election, the Chairman denied any knowledge of serious irregularities during the conduct of the election and scored the performance of his commission, security agencies and other support agencies during the exercise high.
“My rating of the election is that it was highly free, fair and credible. I am not aware of any irregularities or fake election materials, as you have asked. I personally went round to monitor both accreditation and voting processes and my observation was that all went well peacefully. Nobody has reported any case of fake thing to me,” the Senior Advocate of Nigeria said.
“Fake things have no space in my life and I can assure you that the election exercise was genuine and credible.”
On the allegation of late arrival of election materials at several polling stations, Ajogwu expressed doubt about its veracity, pointing out that all materials, with accompanying security agencies were duly released from the commission’s secretariat before 10:am. Moreover, he further claimed that, “I am not aware of such incidences because nobody has brought such complaints to me or the commission.”
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria was appointed by the State governor in March this year to head the commission. And eight months on, he has successfully delivered a council election in the state.
However, beyond the success of the election, it is largely believed that aside God, greatest victory went to the state governor, Rt. Hon. IfeanyiUgwuanyi, who, in spite of all odds, stuck to his earlier promise and reassurances that the council election would be conducted before the end of 2017.
Apart from that, it is believed in several quarters that the governor allowed the state electoral umpire and his team ample free hand, devoid of any form of interference, throughout the process.
As the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremmadu put it, while congratulating the government and people of Enugu State on the success of the election, “poor conduct of local government elections has been of grave concern to Nigerians in the constitution amendment process, but the Saturday council election conducted by the Enugu State Independent Electoral Commission (ENSIEC), is unarguably the best in recent years.”
Ekweremmadu, who was unavoidably away on national parliamentary assignment abroad, on the election day, and who spoke through his media aid, UcheAnichukwu, also commended Ugwuanyi for his policy of non-interference in the electoral process, and hailed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for its victory, which he described as well deserved.
The council election was not devoid of intrigues, controversies and altercations. Barely a week to the election, a coalition of 25 political parties participating in the election, whose candidates had been allegedly, disqualified by ENSIEC, attempted to scuttle the process. They even went as far as demanding the immediate removal of the Commission’s Chairman, Michael Ajogwu over what they described as, “frivolous disqualification” by the commission.
However, ENSIEC swiftly reacted to the allegation, through its administrative secretary, TagboNnamah, explaining that the disqualifications were “tentative”, adding that the affected candidates were unable to comply with the commission’s guidelines, including possession of valid voters’ cards, among others. The Oracle Today gathered over 74 candidates were affected in the disqualification saga.
The APC had earlier accused ENSIEC of breach of guidelines and plan to disqualify its candidates ahead of the polls. Addressing a press conference on the matter, State Chairman of APC, Ben Nwoye, declared that, “We are warning the ENSIEC not to try anything funny because we are not going to take it. We fielded candidates in all the 17 local government areas, and all our candidates in the election are going to run. Nobody will stop them,” he had warned.
ENSIEC backtracks, clears suspended candidates:
Following hours of heated ENSIEC meeting with stakeholders of various political parties on October 25, the commission cleared all the hitherto suspended candidates for the November 4 council election, citing sections 106 and 107 of the 1999 constitution as its basis.
According to the commission’s chairman, Michael Ajogwu, the quoted sections contain the standards for disqualification of candidates, adding that their earlier disqualifications were based on non-possession of permanent voters cards (PVC) and tax clearance certificates, among others.
Ajogwu, who assured of ENSIEC’s preparedness to create a level playing ground for all candidates, irrespective of party affiliation, pointed out that the affected APC candidates were disqualified for non-possession of true copies of tax clearance certificates, and that the commission had duly alerted the state secretariat of the party about the development.