By Stanley Okehie
Election for the new leadership of National Association of Imo State Students (NAISS) has held in Owerri, Imo State capital. NAISS is an umbrella body for all Imo State Students in Nigeria and diaspora. 32 schools participated in the Wednesday’s election. Each school had eight delegates including the Speaker who led the students to the election venue – Imo Youth Center, Owerri. Student Union Government (SUG) Presidents of the nine tertiary institutions in Imo State were also among those that participated in the voting.
Before the commencement of the election, the electoral committee chairman, Thaddeus Emejuru had informed the voters that only chapter presidents and senators would participate in the election. This stirred controversy as the students especially those mobilized as delegates revolted and rejected it bluntly.
Organizers of the election had no choice than to yield to the students’ demand.
Election was going on smoothly until one of the aspirants for the position of the president, Okpara Desmond raised the alarm over plot to shortchange him.
But for the presence of armed military men at the venue, what started as a peaceful and transparent process would have degenerated into a full blown battle among the students.
Following the intervention of the soldiers, normalcy was restored till the end of voting, sorting, counting and declaration of winners but Okpara Desmond, a student of Imo State University, Owerri rejected the outcome of the poll, citing fraud and irregularities.
According to him, his name was not on the ballot paper.
The name on the ballot paper was Nwosu Desmond whereas his name is Okpara Desmond C. and that has been the name he used in all the forms he filled and during campaigns, Nigerian Newsguide learnt.
He wondered how Nwosu was added to his name when he does not bear such name.
He said it was a deliberate act to shortchange him and therefore, described the whole process as a sham.
“It is quite unfortunate and appalling that after undergoing several screening and other things, my name was misplaced, there is something behind it”, angry Desmond told Nigerian Newsguide.
In a release signed by Okpara Desmond and copied to the Vice Chancellor of Imo State University, the DSS, Commissioner for Information and others but, exclusively obtained by Nigerian Newsguide, Desmond accused the Electoral Committee Chairman of harassing students from his institution (IMSU) and his other supporters but allowed the supporters of his opponents to campaign and share campaign materials at the election venue.
Desmond said he was disenfranchised at the election venue and was not allowed to cast his vote. He said, “the electoral committee chairman had a meeting with certain aspirants on Monday 20th July 2021 which they appealed to him to secure the votes at the venue for them by any means which includes disenfranchisement, rigging and harassment of voters of other camps even with security personnel.”
He therefore urged the electoral committee members to tell Imo state students why his name was missing in the ballot paper without any notification, just as he also demanded that the screening processes and election report be made public.
However, the Special Adviser to Governor Hope Uzodimma on Youth Affairs, Hon. Eric Uwakwe who was on ground to monitor the election, in an interview with newsmen, exonerated the state government from sponsoring any candidate to the election.
“We are not totally in charge of this election, all we did as a government is to accommodate them in our premises so that they can conduct their election properly.
“The government doesn’t have interest in any candidate, all we did is to assist them so that they can get it right.”
To the newly elected officers, Uwakwe said he would expect good leadership from them to lead Imo students in the right direction, adding that they could use the opportunity to showcase themselves as future leaders.
Winners in the election were Marvis Ugochukwu from Imo State Polytechnic, Umuagwo who polled 287 votes to emerge NAISS President after beating Nwosu Desmond (34 votes) and Osu Thaddeus (50 votes).
Alphred Jacinta from University of Uyo emerged Senate President with 14 votes against her rival from Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Okereke John-Precious who polled 13 votes.
For the post of Director of Socials, Njoku Kingsley scored 128 votes to win Amanze Emmanuel who polled 102 votes, whereas Emenyelu Sopuruchi emerged Treasurer with 128 votes against Mbadiwe Judith’s 126 votes.
Odor Austin emerged Financial Secretary with 145 votes against Asagwara’s 27 votes, while Okeahialam Clinton polled 150 votes to beat Obiano Sharon for the post of the Secretary.