BY GIDEON AGBALAMA
With the conclusion of primaries by two leading political parties in the State, the All Progressive Congress, APC and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to elect or select candidates for Ngor Okpala State Assembly bye election, both parties will test their political might and strength at the February 26, 2022 bye elections.
The PDP at its primary elected Jeff Emeka Nwachukwu as its candidate, while the APC will field Mr. Blyden Amajirionwu, as its candidate for the polls.
Analysts contend that the Ngor Okpala State Constituency Assembly bye election, will serve as a mirror to asses the capacity and strength of the two leading political parties in the State ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Ngor Okpala LGA has for long time remained a PDP controlled local government and the opposition party in the State will remain bent on retaining its stronghold to show its readiness for the titanic electoral contest in the State in 2023/24.
Known for its large voting strength, the PDP had jealously guarded Ngor Okpala Local Government which remains one of its strongholds in Owerri zone.
For 20 years, the LGA has been represented at the House of Representatives by representatives of PDP extraction.
Hon Emeka Ihedioha had represented the LGA at the green chambers alongside Aboh Mbaise LGA for 12 years, closely followed by Hon Bede Eke, also of the PDP, who is currently representing the LGA in the green chambers.
From 2015 till date, the PDP has produced members of the House of Assembly for the LGA.
The House member who absconded from his seat at the State Assembly, Tochi Okereke is of the PDP. He had stayed away from House sittings several times which compelled the Speaker of the House, Rt Hon Kennedy Ibe to declare his seat vacant.
Hon Johnson Duru (APC, Ideato South) in his motion seeking the declaration of Okere’s seat as vacant, noted that the Ngor Okpala lawmaker had been absent from the House proceedings for more than one-third of the total number of days the state Assembly sat since its inauguration in 2019.
A breakdown of the record showed that he attended proceedings 29 times in 2019, 14 times in 2020, and had zero attendance this year.
Ruling on the motion, the Speaker, Hon Ibe declared the seat vacant, saying that the lawmaker had failed to meet the requirements of his office. He also directed that a bye-election be conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) within 90 days to elect a new representative for the constituency.
The forthcoming bye election has however opened a window of opportunity for the APC, which is leaving no stone un-turned considering its determination and resilience to change the narrative by snatching the LGA from the grip of the PDP.
In the 2019 governorship election, the APC never made an in- road in Owerri zone, failing to win a single local government in the zone.
However, some members of the State Assembly from the zone who were elected on the platform of the PDP later decamped to the APC.
And if it has to change this narrative and make an impressive impact in the 2023/24 general elections, it has to win Ngor Okpala State Constituency bye election, to signal its readiness to take over the zone and ultimately win the governorship election in 2023/24.
Governor Hope Uzodimma, who leads the party in the state, is expected to take advantage of the bye election, to begin the process of entrenching the APC in the zone, whose acceptance rating in Owerrri zone has not been impressive.