Inspite of the heightened tension prior to yesterday’s ward congress, the Abia State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) took place under an atmosphere observers described as one of the most peaceful nationwide, with impressive turnout across the 184 wards of the state.
The exercise which sailed smoothly in all the wards was generally participatory with the outcome indicating that loyalists of a prominent chieftain of the Party, Chief Ikechi Emenike are leading in most of the wards where leaders and delegates have emerged from the congress.
Speaking on the outcome, the Chairman of the Ward Congress Committee for Abia State, Hon. Israel Sonny Goli commended the exercise. Hon. Goli who spoke to newsmen in Umuahia at the end of the exercise described it as peaceful and worthy of emulation by other states, even as it was characterized by long queues of party faithful.
“The turnout was quite impressive and commendable; and the attitude of members of the party towards the congress is also commendable,” he added.
Hon Goli had led the other six members of the committee, including the secretary, Hon Muktar Bajeh, to go round and monitor the congress in a number of wards to ensure that the exercise was conducted according to laid down procedures.
At every ward visited he emphasised the importance of the congress and urged the electoral officers of the party “to ensure that the right things are done” as the ward congress is the foundation of the party.
The congress committee chairman dismissed insinuations that a parallel congress was held in Abia, saying that the exercise was “all inclusive”.
However, a group loyal to the Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu was said to have boycotted the congress, alleging that a parallel congress was also taking place.
However, there was noticeable mass participation of party members in the ward congress and no violence or untoward conduct was reported in any of the wards across the state during the exercise.
But Hon Goli said that it was not unusual for people to attempt to discredit a competitive process if they failed to have it go their way, adding that the committee did not exclude anybody from participating in the congress.
“In events like this, definitely those not favoured by the outcome would come out with such allegations. But we cannot accept that as a true reflection of what happened today (Saturday). It was an all inclusive exercise,” he said.
Hon Goli, who represents Brass/Nembe federal constituency of Bayelsa State, stated that his committee was not interested in anybody that decided not to participate in the congress having made it clear, ab initio, that no member of the party was excluded.
“The committee is not here to sideline anybody. All we did was to give every member of the party the opportunity to participate in the congress,” he said.
In his remarks, the secretary of the congress committee, Hon Bajeh equally expressed satisfaction at the smooth conduct of the ward congress in Abia, noting that the party faithful have expressed their desire to build a party capable of taking control of Abia.
The Deputy Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Hon Nkiruka Onyejeocha, who voted at her Ezingodo ward in Isuochi said that the exercise was peaceful and democratic.