*Threatens legal action
From Steve Oko ,Umuahia
The opposition All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, in Abia State has stoutly opposed the appointment of Professor Mkpa Agu Mkpa as the new Chairman of the Abia State Independent Commission, ABSIEC.
This is as the Abia State House of Assembly has approved the appointment of the former Vice Chancellor.
The lawmakers , had Tuesday confirmed Mkpa’s appointment after screening him on the floor of the House.
But APGA has called for the cancellation of Mkpa’s appointment and subsequent confirmation as ABSIEC boss, alleging that “he is a card-carrying member” of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The former Vice Chancellor, Abia State University , ABSU , has however denied being a PDP member, dismissing the allegation as a malicious falsehood.
APGA in a statement by its Chairman in the state, Hon. Nkem Okoro , described the appointment as a dangerous precedence that must not be allowed to stand.
The statement made available to our correspondent in Umuahia read in part: “The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Abia state, wishes to unequivocally condemn the recent appointment of Prof. Mkpa Agu Mkpa as the Chairman of the Abia State Independent Electoral Commission (ABSIEC)
“For the avoidance of doubt, our position has nothing to do with Professor Mkpa’s Personality, Competence, Qualification or Place of Origin, but on the basis of his conspicuous partisanship and unbidden alliance and loyalty to the PDP.
“It’s a globally forbidden practice in a democracy for an individual whose loyalty lies with a particular political party to head an electoral body which is supposed to be independent, as that would take away the principle of fairness which guides the conduct of an election.
“We have seen the swiftness with which Prof. Mkpa struggled to disconnect and distance himself from the PDP following the criticisms that trailed his nomination, yet it hasn’t erased the fact that during the last governorship election in Abia, Prof. Mkpa was not only a member of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu’s Campaign Advisory Council, but he openly campaigned for him and the PDP, while deploying the harshest of words against Ikpeazu’s major opponents in the election. We would want Prof. Mkpa to show bravery, character and honour by accepting this undisputed fact, rather than trying in futility to deny it in what appears like a desperation to occupy the position of ABSIEC Chairman. As an academic, we expect the highest level of integrity from him.
“We have had a former Vice Chancellor of ABSU, Professor S. O. Emejuiwe as ABSIEC Chairman, no one raised an eyebrow over his appointment, because he was not perceived as partisan. We also had Retired Justice Akomas who is the immediate past ABSIEC Chairman. In spite of the flaws that marred the election he conducted, no body called for his removal, because he wasn’t seen to be partisan, prior to his appointment, even though he was loyal to Ikpeazu while his tenure lasted.
“Therefore those who might want to trivialize the opposition against Mkpa’s appointment should know that the issue is not personal, but institutional, and that if it’s allowed to stand, those who celebrate the unhealthy precedent today, might be victims of its repeated practice tomorrow.
“Ikpeazu had appointed people in the past and has been making appointments recently without any opposition to such appointments, hence our expectation that the outrage, opposition and disapproval from millions of Abians which trailed Mkpa’s appointment would force him to reconsider the appointment in deference to best practices.
“It is also important to remind members of Abia State House of Assembly who have hurriedly confirmed the appointment in spite of widespread opposition, that Abians are taking note of their “stewardship” and connivance that seek to misrepresent their constituents at a time when their robust, and independent legislative engagements should have been impacting positively on the state.
“Finally, we want to restate our opposition to the appointment of Prof. Mkpa Agu Mkpa and request for his removal on the following grounds:
“1. He is a member of PDP and would be biased and partisan, because his loyalty would remain with his party and the government in power.
“2. He openly campaigned for Ikpeazu and the PDP during the last governorship election, while attacking and dismissing Ikpeazu’s opponents. For instance, while making a case for the re-election of Ikpeazu in 2019, he unjustly made reference to the Kidnap Kingpin (Osisi Ka Nkwu’s) era of terror, and called for Ikpeazu’s re-election as a way of avoiding the repeat of what happened then. This statement shows Professor Mkpa as a man who is ready to deploy the instrument of fear, threat and other pedestrian considerations to advance a cause, no matter how unpopular or unjustifiable.
“3. His attempt to deny his alliance and loyalty to the PDP has shown him as a man without integrity who would not be able to stand his ground and speak the truth in times of pressure even as an Electoral Boss.
4. Professor Mkpa was the Secretary to the State Government under the former PDP ignoble rule of T. A. Orji that gave birth to the present regime.
“Should the state government ignore our fair demand and proceed to have Prof. Mkpa as ABSIEC Chairman,we shall be left with no option than to institute legal action against the state government to force it to do the right thing.”