The tussle for the House of Representatives seat in Ogbaru Federal Constituency in Anambra State is becoming more fierce and intriguing, as the April 15, 2023 date, scheduled for the re-run of the earlier election in February that was declared inconclusive, draws near.
The increasing apprehension and tension in Ogbaru over the rescheduled election, may be attributed to the manifest dark political drama, subtle and outright intimidation, and glaring acts of coercion and inducements – by some political interests – designed to cow the people and compromise the process.
The latest is the recent invitation of chairmen of landlord association of different communities in Ogbaru to a meeting in the Government House in Awka, capital of Anambra, by the state Government.
The meeting was said to have been chaired by the Special Adviser to Governor Chukwuma Soludo on Political Matters, Alex Obiogbolu. While Obiogbolu set out the broad outlines of the “Operation Capture Ogbaru” agenda, the day-to-day co-ordination was left for the trio of Collins Nwabunwanne, Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Paul Nwosu, Commissioner for Information and Culture, and Sly Ezeokenwa, Commissioner for Special Duties.
The singular agenda of the meeting was the rescheduled election and the need for the landlord representatives to ensure that their members work for the ruling party in Anambra State, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), with a subtle warning that working against the interest of the government, always comes with consequences.
As earlier reported, before February 25, 2023, the House of Representatives election was declared inconclusive, the Labour Party, which also won both the senatorial and presidential elections in the constituency, was leading comfortably with over 1500 votes, while APGA and the People’s Democratic Party, which produced the incumbent representative, were trailing in second and third place respectively.
The Anambra State Government has exhibited inexplicable obsession for the Ogbaru seat and hasn’t hidden its displeasure over how the Labour Party trounced APGA in both the National Assembly and presidential elections in the local government.
Some of the landlords who attended the Awka meeting, who spoke anonymously, apparently because of fear of government agents, said that the meeting was not only awkward, as the atmosphere didn’t support free speech, as it was laced with intimidation and talks about loyalty to the ruling government, irrespective of their individual choices as free citizens in a democratic setting that provides for fundamental human rights and freedom of choice and association.
It was also learnt that to ensure that APGA carries the day, provisions have been made to grant free access to thugs and other anti-democratic elements by the party to suppress votes from those who may be willing to cast their votes for other parties apart from APGA, especially those sympathetic to the Labour Party.
At different meetings, including the recent one in Awka, where such dark plans were being promoted, the Lagos example in the last governorship election, which witnessed massive voter suppression and intimidation of voters, were referenced as the adopted model for the rescheduled election in Ogbaru.
Some of those summoned to the meeting include Chief Ngerem, chairman East Niger Community, Sir Agozie Okoye, President-General, Iyiowa, Sir W. Iweama, PG, Ossomala community, and Iloene Ikechukwu Stone, a top political stalwart in the Iyiowa area of Ogbaru.
Others included David Ezike, PG, Nkpikpa community, Kenneth Akwuobi, popularly as Okwulora, Chief Louis Ipere, and Frank Okorie, a Councillor in the Okpoko area of Ogbaru.
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