6 Day to Anambra Poll: The five-way contest

Ngige – APC; Obiano – APGA; Nwoye – PDP; Uba –
Labour

Come Saturday, November 16, 2013, exactly six
days from today, the 1,784,536 registered voters in
Anambra State will line up in 4,608 polling units in
the state to elect a new governor that will succeed
Governor Peter Obi on March 17 next year. The
figure was arrived at after INEC sifted unqualified
voters, mainly double registrants, from the 2011
voters’ registration exercise, which had tentative
registered voters of 2, 011,746. About 93000 people
were said to be involved in double registration in the
state and INEC has since said those involved will be
prosecuted for violating a section of the Electoral
Act.
Feelers from the state headquarters of the
Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC,
indicate that the National Chairman of INEC,
Professor Attahiru Jega, would visit Anambra State
any time from now to assess the situation on
ground, while many national commissioners of INEC
from its headquarters in Abuja and some state
Resident Electoral Commissioners, REC, across the
country, would be drafted to the state to conduct
and supervise the exercise. It is still not clear if
Anambra REC, Prof Chukwuemeka Onukaogu, would
be part of the team to conduct the exercise in view
of several allegations leveled against him by some
politicians in the state to the effect that his body
language shows some elements of bias. Onukaogu
has since denied the allegation, saying that it is the
usual behaviour of some politicians to fly such kites
during elections, especially if they have not
prepared and mobilized properly for the polls.
Altogether, 23 political parties are involved in the
governorship election and their candidates have
been traversing the nooks and crannies of Anambra
State selling their manifestoes to the electorate.
Though many political parties were faced with the
usual problems associated with party primaries,
which had to be resolved in courts in few cases,
everything appears set for a successful poll.
Parties such as the PDP, APGA, APC, PPN, among
others, initially had issues concerning their
candidates, but they were able to resolve the
problem. The battle for the PDP ticket got to the
Supreme Court before it was finally resolved in
favour of Chief Tony Nwoye only last week.
Shema panel
Analysts said the apex court’s ruling was a
vindication of the PDP panel that conducted the
primaries which produced Nwoye. Ahead of the
primaries, according to the analysts, the PDP
national leadership needed a tactician, somebody
well- grounded in party matters, an objective and
impartial arbiter; to lead the team to conduct the
exercise against the backdrop of the crisis the
jostle for the party’s ticket had created. There was
bad blood in the state chapter to an extent that
there were two excos. The lot fell on Governor
Ibrahim Shehu Shema of Katsina State to lead the
team . The party leadership was said to have
trusted Shema to deliver rancour- free primaries
and come up with an acceptable candidate. He did
not disappoint. A source close to Wadata Plaza
national secretariat of the PDP said the party knew
how delicate the Anambra situation was given the
factional crisis on ground and needed a party leader
with the capacity to carry all the aspirants along.
“Governor Shema fitted into the kind of party leader
the PDP required to conduct the Anambra primaries
because he had so many things going for him. Yes,
he is one of the governors who have conducted the
affairs of their states very well in the last six years.

This is a thing of pride to the PDP leadership that
we have a governor that is doing well on the home –
front. But don’t also forget that before Alhaji Shema
took the mantle of leadership in Katsina, he
operated at the highest level of the party as a
Deputy National Chairman in charge of North-west”,
the source said. The source continued: “When
Governor Shema was the PDP Deputy National
Chairman, it is on record that he discharged the
responsibility of that office with diligence and
loyalty. It makes sense therefore that if there was
any assignment like the Anambra primaries which
the party found delicate and needed tact to deliver,
the party leadership will not hesitate to use him.
”Even before the Supreme Court verdict which
upheld Nwoye as the Anambra election candidate,
the party leadership in Abuja was happy with the
conduct of the PDP primaries in one of the most
volatile states.”
Indeed, the PDP national leadership had cause to be
satisfied about the Anambra primaries. Safe for the
little distraction caused by Oguebego, the factional
leader, who organised parallel primaries, the
Anambra PDP primaries, under Shema’s watchful
eyes, went absolutely well. Most of the party’s 22
gubernatorial aspirants were fully involved in the
Shema organised primaries to underscore their faith
in the exercise and the person in charge to do a
thorough job. A source at the Abuja secretariat of
the party said the quality of job done by the
governor on the Anambra primaries recommends
him for more responsibilities as we progress to the
2015 general elections. He noted that Shema is due
to finish his second term by 2015 but pointed out
that his conduct as a governor committed to the
welfare of his people and his absolute loyalty to the
PDP are factors to pave the way for him for bigger
roles in the polity after 2015.
*For APGA, one of the aspirants, Dr. Chike Obidigbo,
disqualified by the party’s screening committee,
was presented to INEC as the candidate of the party
by the former interim National Chairman, Chief Maxi
Okwu, but the electoral umpire has since dismissed
his claim. Also, Mr. Godwin Ezeemo, who tried to vie
on the platform of APC, had to leave the party and
later picked the ticket of PPA after he felt
shortchanged in APC. Mr. Basil Iwoba had to chase
Prince Isaac Onuka out of PPN to be able to get the
party’s ticket. Onuka had to move to KOWA Party
as the state chairman. At the last count, only UPP,
the political party floated by Chief Chekwas Okorie,
still has its problem unresolved as two persons are
laying claim to the party’s ticket. They are
Professor Ben Akanegbu who is listed in INEC as
the party’s candidate and who also participated in
the political debate organized for governorship
candidates in Awka recently, and Dr. Jide Emordi,
who is claiming to be the authentic candidate of
UPP, having paid the required N5 million as
stipulated by the party.
Emordi has gone to the Federal High Court, Abuja
where he is seeking an exparte order to stop
Akanebgu from parading himself as the candidate of
the party. Emordi’s argument was that Okorie and
some officials of the party have perfected plans to
trade away the structure he built from the inception
of UPP by trying to impose Akanegbu as the
candidate. He also argued that Akanegbu is not
aregistered voter in Anambra State and therefore
cannot stand for the election because he cannot
vote during the election.
As the campaigns got off the ground, the major
contenders in the race began to emerge. Unless the
unexpected happens, it is believed that the battle for
Obi’s successor will be fought among the
candidates of APGA (Willie Obiano), APC (Senator
Chris Ngige), PDP (Chief Tony Nwoye), LP (Chief
Ifeanyi Ubah) and PPA (Mr. Godwin Ezeemo).
Election monitors
The Transition Monitoring Group, TMG, a coalition of
over 400 civil society groups whose main objective
is to promote the development and practice of
democratic values and monitoring democratic
institutions and electoral processes, is to deploy
about 600 observers in all the 21 local government
areas of the state during the governorship election.
The group’s chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Zikirullahi, who
recently visited the Anambra REC, Onukaogu, said
the observers would be trained on how to transmit
their information to the TMG headquarters in Abuja
from the field for prompt collation on election day,
saying that a situation whereby reports of election
observers came weeks after the election when
somebody would have been declared winner was
unacceptable.
Tension
Though INEC assembled the political parties and
gave them the dos and don’ts for the election, there
is still tension as the date for the exercise draws
near. There are signs of desperation among some
candidates and this is caused mainly by their
overzealous agents who, apart from engaging in
internet battles, also descend on the campaign
materials of their opponents. In fact, most of the
information churned out from the campaign offices
of the candidates turn out to be hoax. For instance,
when a group of people came up with the alleged
double registration of the APGA candidate, Obiano,
they were already speculating that the man had
been disqualified and went ahead to name his
replacement, but it turned out to be false as INEC
and a High Court in Anambra State have since
absolved the man of engaging in any double
registration
Adoration tragedy
Also, APC and APGA have been accusing each other
of being responsible for the destruction of bill
boards of their candidates such that the entire
landscape of Anambra State is now filled with
defaced and torn bill boards. Areas mostly affected
in the bill board war are Awka, Onitsha, Nkpor,
Agulu, Governor Obi’s town, Nnewi and Ekwulobia,
among other areas. In fact, it is part of the
desperation to win at all cost that was said to be
responsible for the death of 25 persons at the Holy
Ghost Adoration ground at Uke in Idemili North local
government area as it was alleged that the activities
of agents of politicians led to the stampede.
Issues
The candidate of APC, Ngige, hinges his campaign
on the ground that 70 percent of the blueprint he
prepared before he was removed by the court in
2006 were yet to be implemented, claiming that
Anambra had become worse under Governor Obi.
He cited the stadium in Awka which, he said, was
30 percent completed before he left office, adding
that the project has remained untouched since he
left office. He also claimed that he diligently paid
counterpart funds that enabled donor agencies to
come to the state and regretted that despite the
efforts he made to resuscitate health institutions in
the state; most of them have remained moribund.
He has also been telling the people that voting for
him would ensure good quality of life for the people
and stated that it was to make them happy again
that he is contesting the election.
His PPA counterpart, Ezeemo, who released his
five-cardinal programmes of security, health,
agriculture, power and education in the commercial
city of Anambra argued that once these five
programmes are properly put in place, the economy
of the state would transform in terms of job
creation, industrialization, security of lives and
property, qualitative free education at primary and
secondary levels, qualitative health care delivery,
among others.
For the APGA candidate, Obiano, perhaps what he
has going for him is the performance of the
incumbent Governor Obi whose infrastructural
development has been acclaimed both locally,
nationally and internationally. Before the APGA
government took over in 2006, the state was
virtually a dead zone, with collapsed school
buildings and unequipped libraries and laboratories,
unaccredited programmes in various health and
educational institutions, demoralized work force,
bad road network, unpaid arrears of pensions and
gratuities, among others, but all that have changed.
Obiano, in his campaign, has been saying that he
would continue from where Obi stops and also
claimed that he is the only candidate that has the
capacity to continue to attract international funding
for the state, considering his background as a
renown financial manager. The PDP candidate,
Nwoye, had some set back after winning the
party’s ticket, but having finally settled down for
campaign, has promised to turn the state around for
the better if elected. Popular among the youths,
Nwoye is supported by many prominent politicians
and wealthy people in the state and, in view of the
power of money, there are
indications that he will surprise other political
parties.
Ifeanyi Ubah of LP has the support of the business
community. His promise to drastically reduce
unemployment in the state through his job creation
measures is exciting the unemployed people in the
state.
Agreement
The parties presenting candidates for the election
have already signed an agreement to abide by the
rules of the game, even as they urged the INEC and
security operatives to provide a level –playing field
for all the political parties.
In a communiqué issued at a one- day sensitization
workshop for the political parties and stakeholders
for the election organized by the office of the
special adviser to the president on inter party
affairs,
the political parties, through their chairmen who
appended their signatures on the document,
observed that contestants perform better when the
rules were made very clear.
According to the communiqué, the will of the
electorate must be respected by INEC, while
security
operatives should not only be seen to be neutral, but
must be neutral in all actions. It also urged the
Presidency to avoid manipulating the electoral
process, while the judiciary should play its rightful
role by delivering timely judgment to avoid hiccups
in transiting from one regime to the other.
The communiqué states further: “The gubernatorial
candidates and their political parties should play a
leading role in providing a rancour and violence
free, smooth, fair and credible election;
“The use of inciting and violent language before,
during and after the election must be eschewed;
“No acts of intimidation of the electorate by the
political parties, candidates and their supporters
should be tolerated, and that the stakeholders
should abide by the revised Code of Conduct signed
by all political parties and INEC.”

Posted By Kevin Jasper (@KevinJasper3)

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