From Okey Sampson, Umuahia

Abia State Governor Okezie Ikpeazu made an attempt to win over voters in the face of an imminent defeat for his party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), during the governorship election.

After the PDP’s failure to win the presidential election and Ikpeazu’s inability to win his senatorial race on February 25th, it became clear that the PDP may not win the governorship election.

To try to appeal to voters, Ikpeazu held meetings with various interest groups, including market union executives, to market the PDP’s governorship candidate, Okey Ahiwe.

In addition to the strategic meetings, the government suspended payment of levies and taxes in markets in the state. A few days before the governorship election, Ikpeazu held meetings with workers in the state and urged them to vote for PDP.

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At the end of the meetings, Ikpeazu announced a command promotion for all workers in the state, which meant that every worker in the state was automatically promoted to the next grade level, regardless of whether they were due for a promotion or not. The government also promised to pay workers’ leave allowance, which some had not received for many years.

However, the member representing Aba South state constituency in the Abia State House of Assembly, Hon Obinna Ichita, described the promotion as fake and questioned the government’s motives. Ichita claimed that the move was an attempt to influence civil servants to vote for the ruling party’s candidates in the governorship and house of assembly elections and urged Abia workers not to fall for the trick.

Despite the government’s efforts, PDP failed to win the polls as Labour Party’s Alex Otti defeated the PDP candidate, ending the PDP’s 24-year rule in Abia State.

After a five-day delay as a result of the ‘Obingwa Magic’ debacle, Otti was announced as the winner of the election, and there were wild jubilations across the state. In Umuahia, the state capital, some youths were seen carrying coffins, claiming they were going to bury the PDP, which they claimed had ruled the state for 24 years with little or nothing to show for it.