This weekend all roads lead to Okigwe (Imo North) zone and other zones throughout the country where elections would be conducted to fill up unoccupied seats in the national assembly. The urgent need for a successful conduct of the election lies in the fact that the areas affected have lacked a spokes person which has short-changed them.
In Imo, the people of Okigwe Senatorial zone will file out to replace the late Benjamin Uwajumogu who was buried early this year after his sudden transition. About 14 contestants are jostling for the position. The emergence of the various calibres of politicians in the contest is attracting various shades of interpretations.
So far those jostling for the position include the serious and the unserious, the young, old and retiring or tired politicians. While some view the number of the gladiators as the heightened desperation of politicians for power, others see it as an increased consciousness to express political rights.
So far, those identified to be in the race include past political heavy weights that may have either served as legislators at national or local levels, or top civil servants etc. It is therefore expected that these categories of contestants will bring so much maturity to the game to allow for a free and fair election. Unfortunately, this simple but correct assumption has often been misplaced in the light of the desperation of politicians to grab power by hook or crook.
Our concern is predicated on the fact that shortly after the demise of the office holder but before his burial movements were already in top gear among politicians expressing their interest indirectly. Allegedly, the death of one prominent Senatorial candidate, Emenike Ndubuisi, the Action Alliance candidate in the 2019 election have been linked to perceived opponents who may have seen him as a threat.
The number of candidates not only stands to increase the chances of heating up the polity but also increasing the risk level of incidents experienced in an election as the candidates seek to assert their chances.
We have not forgotten that in the 2019 election three persons were killed at Isiala Mbano during the governorship and state legislature election. Such unsavoury situation which is clearly avoidable spells the need that everything possible should be done to avoid a repeat. There is no political position that is worth the life of any human being.
We are aware too that the contest for the position transcends individual strength and party affiliations but also extends to geographical locations for the balancing of power equation within the zone. Given the above scenario it becomes absolutely very imperative that the regulatory authorities should put their best foot forward in the effort to ensure a free and non-violent election.
News Echo maintains that achieving this is the best manner the politicians would have honoured their departed colleague. Besides, the politicians would have demonstrated that lessons have been learnt from the short comings of previous exercises and as a result build more confidence among the stakeholders in the electoral process.
We therefore call on the gladiators to be guided in their utterances and urge them to play by the rules. It must not be a do or die affair. There is always another chance to try again. Okigwe zone is one of the areas in the state that is blessed with abundant human and natural resources. It would be recalled that the first civilian governor of this state, Dee Sam Mbakwe, whose sterling transformative effort remains a reference point yet to be equalled hailed from that zone.
Imo North today is touted as one of the least developed zone in spite of all its potentials. The election therefore provides another opportunity to elect a representative with the right qualities to give the zone quality representation that will enhance its well being.
News Echo will like to caution the politicians and their foot soldiers to cease from doing anything that will attract court actions which have the tendency to delay enthroning a representative. This is in the light of the current realities where politicians have always contested and challenged electoral victories. This will work against the interest of the people who will continue to miss out as issues concerning them are determined in their absence.
It should be borne in mind that while their cases pend in the courts the activities of the national assembly does not stop for anyone nor would they be rewarded with an extended tenure.
We call on all the stakeholders to play by the rules to ensure that there is a free and fair election and that the wishes of the people were respected. We have had more than enough issues in the conduct of elections. It is time to demonstrate that lessons have been learnt and works towards advancing our democracy.