Complaints of late arrival of electoral officials and late commencement trailed Friday’s councillorship primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abia State ahead of the December 17 council poll in the state.
The exercise which was scheduled for 8 am in the over 800 political wards in the state was yet to commence by 4 pm in some of the wards visited by our correspondent.
However, there were no incidents of violence as the exercise was generally peaceful even though some members alleged that the late commencement could be a plot to manipulate the results.
The state chairman of the party, Chief Johnson Onuigbo, had announced that the party would use Option A4 for the primaries to avoid rigging and boost transparency.
However, party members were observed in queues without the election officials in most of the wards visited by our correspondent.
At Ajatanigu ward in Ikwuano Local Government Area, members of the party turned out in their large numbers for the exercise but expressed disappointment that the election officials were not handy.
Speaking with newsmen, chairman of the ward, Chief Godwin Nwosu said the officials were still being expected from the council headquarters with the electoral materials.
He said that the over 5000 members of the party in the ward were ready to wait for them, adding that they would respect zoning arrangement in the exercise as the only two contestants in the race are from one zone.
When our correspondent visited Ubakala ward A in Umuahia South LGA around 2 pm, the exercise was also yet to start while party members who looked dejected were seen expressing anger over the delay.
The arena was also rancorous but a former council boss, Deacon Charles Ekwueme, attributed it to the misunderstanding by some party members that the directive for them to file outside the gate and be checked, using the party’s register was for ulterior motive.
He noted that the exercise would begin as soon as genuine members of the party were identified and cleared into the premises, adding that the seat had already been zoned to the Avodim Ubakala clan.
Later in an interview, the only two female aspirants for the post, Mrs. Helen Okechukwu and Mrs. Ekwutosi Emenike, expressed faith in the exercise despite the delays in its commencement.
However, at Umuosu Umunsulu ward 2 in Isialangwa North LGA, where the exercise was yet to commence as at 4 pm when our correspondent visited the venue, one of the contestants, Mr. Guinea Onumaegbu, alleged that the delay was “ because they want to stay somewhere and write the result”.
He expressed sadness that the over 2700 members of the party in the ward who enthusiastically trooped out since morning for the exercise had been milling around without hope.
He warned the leadership of the party against any act capable of portraying PDP in the bad light, stressing that the party needs to work hard to regain the people’s confidence as a truly democratic party.
His opponent, however, said the people were calm and would patiently wait until any time the election officials and materials arrived for the exercise.
At Umuahia Urban ward 1, the ward chairman, Mr. Ndubuisi Kanu said the exercise was successful, and that Mr. Obinna Ukaekwe had emerged as the party’s flag bearer.
Kanu who stated this in an interview around 5 pm said the exercise was peaceful and orderly.