Residents of ‘Aba Ngwa’ community in Aba North/ South Federal Constituency of Abia have threatened to withdraw their support for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) if their grievances emanating from the just-concluded party primaries were not addressed.
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday, the President of Aba Ngwa Youth Congress, Mr Greg Obi, said that the community was ready to forfeit rents for tenants to ensure total withdrawal of support for the party.
Obi alleged that there was a case of over-voting at the primaries conducted for the House of Representatives seat in the constituency as the number of votes counted exceeded the number of accredited voters.
According to him, the election was rigged in favour of Mr Uzo Azubuike as against the interest of the people and preferred candidate, Dr Blessing Nwagba.
He said that they had been dominated by non-indigenes over the years as only people from neighbouring Local Government Areas occupied the seat.
The president said the community supported two of its indigenes to contest in the just-concluded PDP primary election but one died mysteriously after purchasing the form.
According to him, the community then threw its weight behind Nwagba, a serving member of the Abia State House of Assembly to clinch the ticket but that the primaries were rigged.
“Since 2009, no member of Aba-Ngwa community had been given the opportunity to represent the constituency either at the House of Reps or at the Senate.
“It is not that we have not been contesting but the results do not always favour us,” he said.
In a separate interview with NAN, Nwagba alleged that she was being marginalised by the party because she is a woman.
Nwagba said that she had reported the irregularities at the primaries to the appeal panel and to the party’s leadership.
She said that she had not been invited neither by the members of the appeal panel or party leadership and that the report of the panel had not been made public.
The aspirant said neither her grievances nor those of Aba-Ngwa community had been addressed by the party and that no explanation whatsoever had been given for the silence.
The aspirant said women were not meant for the kitchen alone as they were equally endowed to add value to society through good governance.
Nwagba said if due process was followed, she would have won the election because she worked hard and did all that was required to emerge victorious.
Responding, the PDP Chairman in Abia, Chief Johnson Onuigbo said he was aware of Nwagba’s complaint.
He said Nwagba submitted her complaint and had met with the appeal panel which was saddled with the responsibility to listen to aggrieved aspirants and resolve issues.
According to him, Nwagba was interviewed by the panel in the state office of the Deputy Chairman of the party.
He said that the report submitted by those who conducted the primary showed that the election “was free, fair, credible and verifiable.”
Onuigbo said unlike in other climes, “people in this part of the world” hardly accept defeat in any competition.
According to him, if Nwagba has won the election, she would not be protesting and challenging the process.
The chairman said that it would be very unfair for the residents of Aba-Ngwa community to withdraw their support for the party.
According to him, the PDP made Nwagba, and that she cannot win everyday.
He said that Nwagba losing this time did not mean she should turn against the party, “that is not the spirit of sportsmanship”.
Onuigbo described the plan by the community to forfeit rents for tenants to ensure maximum withdrawal of support for the party as a “strategy to sabotage PDP.”
Reacting to the issue of Aba-Ngwa indigenous representation at the National Assembly, the chairman said that power was not given based on asking but contested, struggled for and taken.
He said the PDP preaches free, fair, credible and verifiable primary elections and that the party does not allocate power to anybody or community.
According to him, while we agree on morals grounds that every community gets an indigenous rep, this is a struggle for power in line with the Constitution.
He said no law stops anybody from contesting for a seat at the National Assembly as many times as the people allowed him or her to do so.
“We cannot as a party say it is your turn since no law bars a lawmaker from seeking re-election just because we want power to go round.
“We have to look at the law, legally speaking, it is unfair to do so, we do not dash it, we cannot say it is your turn, take it.
“If they do not get it now, next time they may; there is always another chance,” the chairman added.