The campaign team of Alex Otti, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Abia State, has denied widespread media reports that their candidate’s agents and volunteers were purchasing voters’ cards ahead of the February polls.
In a strong reaction, Mr. Otti’s campaign organization described the reports as “malicious, puerile and in bad taste,” especially as the reports were emanating from the government-run Broadcasting Corporation of Abia (BCA) State.
Mr. Otti, a well-known banker and former chief executive of Diamond Bank, is widely regarded as one of the top candidates in the governorship race.
“In our goal to reach voters and campaign on the ground as widely as is possible and permissible, our campaign organization has been embarking on door-to-door initiatives across the state since Otti emerged as the authentic APGA flag bearer for the elections,” his staff declared in a statement rebutting the allegations of vote buying. The campaign added: “Our volunteers and agents undertake this task daily in the scorching sun because we believe in the power and supremacy of the voters who will decide the outcome of elections. We were therefore taken aback to hear on the state-run BCA that our campaign team has been on a mission to purchase voters’ cards. We consider this allegation not only befuddling but [also] malicious and in bad taste.”
The Otti campaign organization said it would make no sense for anybody to purchase voters’ cards in an era when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has tightened security and technological measures around its portal and cards, thus making it doubly difficult if not near impossible to clone voting materials.
“We are amazed that the PDP will even bandy this allegation on air given that it sounds puerile, ludicrous and hollow to the discerning mind. How do we even begin to purchase cards when the ‘INEC reader’ will be used to authenticate all cards? Why should we even be purchasing cards in broad daylight and in the full glare of the public? While we campaign and win over new voters through our novel door-to-door initiative, the PDP and its candidate sit in a corner of Abia to cook up stories in a bid to cast aspersions on our efforts because they are scared stiff and because all they want to do is rig the votes on Election Day—an act they have perfected over the years. This is beyond the pale and distasteful,” the campaign added.
Mr. Otti’s group stated that it was understandable that the “PDP which has run Abia State aground all these years” was now ashamed of hitting the streets to campaign for its governorship candidate, adding that prospective voters would not even listen to the PDP’s campaign pitch.
“They are jittery and we are not unmindful of that; especially after all the incalculable damage they have wrought in the state all these years,” Mr. Otti’s staff said. Their statement added that the PDP was aware that “the game has changed with Otti’s entrance into the contest and they are quite aware that their candidate is a hard sell and a bad product who is derided on the streets of Abia and who had to duck from torrents of sachet water hurled at him during a recent public outing. But the PDP and its agents can do better than mudslinging and campaigns of calumnies before they are handed a shellacking at the ballot next month.”