Posted by Agwu Okojogho, Umuahia | 24 March 2015 | 4,211 times
Governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Abia State, Dr. Alex Otti, emerged from an hour-long meeting with the state’s Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Prof. Selina Oko, yesterday to declare that he was satisfied with preparations for Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly polls, which he pleaded should be devoid of bloodshed.
Though newsmen were barred from the meeting, it was learnt that Otti used the opportunity to raise salient issues to which the REC gave him and the management of his campaign organisation satisfactory explanations.
Otti later told newsmen that he embarked on the visit because he sees INEC as a stakeholder. His words: “We have elections coming up on Saturday and I needed to come and assess the level of preparedness of INEC to be sure that things are going okay and I can say I am satisfied.
“We had engaged the Resident Electoral Commissioner, asked a lot of questions and I can confirm that she is ready for the elections. The sensitive and non-sensitive materials, according to her, are here; they will start distribution within the week and she has made adequate plans, so I am satisfied that things are going okay.”
Otti further explained that the visit in an election week was most auspicious because it afforded him the opportunity to get first-hand information about preparations for the polls.
“I am coming here for the first time because we have elections coming up and I am an interested party and this is a public place and that is why I came. I came to observe. If I had come earlier, I am not too sure that I will get the kind of first-hand reports that I am getting now. I needed to get current information about the level of preparedness of INEC. So, I am not forbidden from coming here. I am a stakeholder, I am from this state, I am a candidate and I need to be interested in what is happening here,” he stated.
The APGA flag bearer dismissed insinuations that the visit may have been used to strike a deal with INEC. He said he expected those making such allegations “to be smarter than that,” adding: “If I want to have a deal, I shouldn’t be coming here.”
Otti expressed worry that despite the peace pact signed by the political parties in Abia, violence has continued to trail campaigns in the state. He enjoined Abians to eschew violence and the shedding of blood during the elections.
According to Otti, “We signed a peace accord and we expected that our opponents will respect the peace accord but alas! they do not intend to respect the peace accord. We have continued to conduct our affairs peacefully. We have avoided any violence because we don’t believe that any blood should be shed for these elections, particularly when we know that we are coming for the interest of the people, so we shouldn’t be interested in their dying before the elections.”
Expressing disgust at the increasing rate of violence and attacks on his campaign train, Otti said: “We have been attacked severally. There are wars and rumours of wars from all over the place but we are not perturbed because we believe that this state belongs to all of us and we are not going to be intimidated. When people start running scared, that is when you get things like this.”
Otti said last week, his proposed town hall meeting at Mbawsi in Isiala Ngwa South was disrupted by thugs believed to be working for the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who locked up a venue they had paid for and got police clearance.
Otti said: “Our people wanted to fight back but I called them and I said, ‘please, retreat because there is no point fighting’ and we went to an alternative place to hold our town hall meeting. And as we were going there, we saw that we had been ambushed by the same people; we still tried to avoid them because I really strongly believe that it is not sensible to have any bloodshed for these elections, I don’t think it is worth it. So I am pleading with the opposition right now to give peace a chance so that these elections could be fair, free and transparent.”
•Photo shows APGA Abia guber candidate, Alex Otti.
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