By the time news filtered into Arochukwu on Wednesday, 3 February 2016 that the Supreme Court of Nigeria was going to deliver judgment in the case filed by the People’s Democratic Party and the party’s governorship candidate (Dr Okezie Ikpeazu) on the 11 April, 2015 election, and the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, Dr Alex Otti, the people became apprehensive and had shifted attention to what the verdict of the court would be.
While APGA members were optimistically hoping that their candidate, Dr Alex Otti, would win and be sworn in as had been ordered by the Appeal Court sitting in Owerri in its judgment on Thursday, 31 December, 2015, PDP members in the town (obviously smaller in number than APGA members) had hoped their candidate, Dr Okezie Victor Ikpeazu, would be declared the winner as previously done on Tuesday, 3 November, 2015 in Umuahia. The town was, therefore, tensed up – with the two camps hoping to carry the day.
In the hope that Dr Alex Otti would win as he had done on 31 December, 2015 at Owerri, many of the APGA members in Arochukwu had swung into drinking sprees throughout the town – from Amuvi to Ugwuakuma. As they were ‘declaring’ and ordering cartons of beer for people to drink at various shops and ‘beer parlours,’ some members of the PDP were also seen in some other ‘beer parlours’ discussing the issue on ‘top of beer.’
In Obinkita, two staunch members of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, who had put all their hope that their governorship candidate would win, had ordered the closure of a joint in the village, and told all those who were there to drink out all the beers in the joint – and eat one plate each of pepper-soup, nkwobi, isi ewu, okazi or kanda (whatever was the choice of such persons) on their account! So, all those who were there then seized the chance and ate and drank to their satisfaction.
One of the two benefactors, a maverick politician, had told those there that by the next day (Thursday), he would have been appointed ‘into a big position. Dr Otti is my man. He had promised me a big position on Arochukwu LGA, or in the state, whichever I choose.’ The drinking lasted into the night while the various groups had glued their eyes onto the television screens while others were having their radios on, either in their listening appliances of through their World Receiver sets.
When it was getting late into the night, the correspondent had to tell those around him he had to turn in, to see them the next morning. So, he left, and had hardly reached Isimkpu when he heard, through Channels Television, that the Supreme Court of Nigeria had retreated after delivering judgment on a suit; and would soon resume to deliver judgment on the appeal filed by the PDP and its gubernatorial candidate in Abia State against the Appeal Court judgment that had delivered its verdict in favour of APGA and Dr Alex Otti, promising to give its viewers the latest on the issue.
At that, the reporter decided not to retire again. Instead, he went to the nearest viewing centre in the village (Isimkpu), ordered a bottle of Guinness Stout and starting sipping same with a view to watching for the reading of the verdict.
And lo, without waiting for long, the long-awaited verdict was pronounced – and it soon became a bombshell! Dr Okezie Ikpeazu of the PDP had been declared the winner instead of Dr Alex Otti. Immediately the declaration was made, the immediate vicinity became as quiet as the grave! No one muttered any word. Instead, those who were drinking alongside the reporter or doing some other thing rushed whatever they were doing and left. Even the proprietor of the joint had told those around to hurry up, and leave the place as ‘I want to close down,’ following which the reporter rushed his Stout and left.
A few moments after the pronouncement, countable number of shouts of ‘PDP – Power to the People’ were heard in some distant places that were followed by other countable bouts of ‘knock-outs,’ and similar fire-works, and the sound of those fireworks finally died down with the approach of the dawn.
The next morning, many of those whom the reporter had approached for comments on the Supreme Court verdict wore long faces and looked sad. Except a few of those members of PDP, APGA members were so sad that none of them agreed to talk to the reporter.
At Obinkita Square, one of them even warned the reporter to ‘leave me alone or I will injure him with this bottle (of Heineken)’ he was drinking ‘out of annoyance.’