Posted by By BEIFOH OSEWELE on
Whenever the story of April 14, 2007 governorship election is told, one name would easily come to mind; Theodore Ahamefule Orji.
Whenever the story of April 14, 2007 governorship election is told, one name would easily come to mind; Theodore Ahamefule Orji. This is not just for the fact that the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) candidate defeated Chief Onyema Ugochukwu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by 265,289 to 136, 858 votes, which by any standard represents a landslide margin, but more so because he achieved the result while in detention on alleged spurious charges.
As soon as news of the result filtered out on Sunday morning, the streets of Umuahia, the state capital went up in orgy of wild jubilation.
Youths, in one accord hugged one another, chanting’ "Enyimba enyi". Women and men clasped their hands in praises to God. Okada riders and commercial motor drivers performed all kinds of stunts on the highways. For them, it was sweet victory.
The clampdown on the PPA’s candidates, observers have alleged, was necessitated by the need by the central government to clear the way for Ugochukwu, the former chairman of the NDDC and close ally of President Olusegun Obasanjo. It was also a ploy to get at the incumbent governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu. But all the machinations have proved abortive, to further reaffirm Kalu as superior political leader in the Southeast state of Abia.
Thus, Orji, a seasoned administrator who had held various positions in the civil service before his appointment as Chief of Staff to the Abia State government, by his victory has not only become governor-elect of the state fondly called "God’s own State", but has also joined the rare class of political gems who refused to be held down by the strong arm of the iron bars.
By clinching electoral victory while under lock and keys, he has joined the enviable hall of fame, which parades the legendary Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana. Also in the list is Otunba Iyiola Omisore, who while being held for alleged complicity in the dastardly murder of Chief Bola Ige, then minister of justice and attorney-general, clinched the Osun East (Ife/Ijesha) senatorial ticket on the platform of PDP in 2003, thereby earning for himself the tag, ‘strong man’ of Osun politics.
A source in Abia, in an attempt to situate Orji’s victory in context, told Daily Sun on phone; ‘This is a victory for democracy, justice and fair play. The people of Abia have spoken eloquently; what they have said with their votes is that they do not want a puppet who would be remote-controlled from either Aso Rock or Ota farm, as their governor. It is great lesson for today and tomorrow’s politicians who want to governor Abia". More than that, the source said it was also a vote of confidence on Kalu, the governor in the last eight years and presidential candidate of the PPA.
Indeed, political pundits have attributed Orji’s victory to Kalu’s political influence in the state. In fact, to a lot of people, the only reason Orji’s victory is seen as an issue is because he won while in detention. "If he was around the result would have been taken for granted. In fact, nobody should see the result as an upset because of the Kalu’s vice-like grip on Abia politics. That is why his candidate has won such a convincing victory."
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