The much talked about November 6 Anambra State governorship election has come and gone, winners and losers have also emerged from the results of the contest released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) amid suspense, writes CAJETAN MMUTA
At the moment, the atmosphere in Anambra State is still thick with celebrations. There are banters and clicking of glasses by both the subject and suspects, those who worked and onlookers. No doubt, the contest was a mixture of might and power, money and hard work, reality, and imagination.
It separated the chaff from the grains as well as boys from men. Also, it proved that the taste of the pudding is in the eating. There is no gainsaying that men of war are usually selected because such battle is not for the feeble-minded and it came with great challenge.
However, the dust has settled and the atmosphere is beaming with smiles of clemency. For the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) it has dawned on the opposition and a pure confirmation of Governor Willie Obiano’s popular stage song of ‘Ogaeme ha fiam n’anya’ (It will be like a film to them).
The entire people of Anambra state and governor-elect, Prof Charles Soludo, are the winners and those who may have to ignore the spirit of sportsmanship are the real losers.
Though, in all it is not yet Uhuru as there is still enormity of work to be done by the 18 political parties, the candidates and the electoral umpire, INEC, that participated in the November 6 election, the extended voting times; the Sunday dramatic episode to accommodate those who had obvious hitches and hours of delays due to all-round complaints of malfunctioned Bimodal Voters Accreditation System, (BVAS), late distribution and arrival both materials and ad-hoc staff for the poll and the Tuesday’s supplementary election in Ihiala local government area.
At the end of the seemed brouhaha and blame game, INEC’s Chief Returning officer for the election, Prof Florence Obi, who is the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Calabar at about 1:50 am on Wednesday declared the candidate of APGA, Prof Charles Soludo, as the winner of the election.
According to Prof. Obi, the votes scored by the political parties are as follows; APC- 43, 285, APGA- 112, 229, PDP -53, 807, among others. She stated, “That Charles Chukwuma Soludo of APGA, having satisfied the requirements of the law is hereby declared the winner of the election.”
She also stated the total number of valid votes cast in the election include; 241, 523, rejected votes stood at 8,108 while the total votes cast in the election was given as 249, 631.
In all, Soludo’s APGA clinched 19 local government areas, the PDP candidate, Chief Valentine Ozigbo came second with a win in Ogbaru LGA, while the Young Progressive Party (YPP) candidate, Chief Ifeanyi Ubah won only Nnewi North LGA. The APC candidate, Senator Andy Uba, did not win in any LGA at the end of the exercise.
With the INEC’s declaration, it had brought to an end the months of fear, tension, anxiety characterized by uncertainties following threats by members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to slam a week-long sit-at-at-home except Mazi Nnamdi Kanu was released from the detention camp of the Department of State Services, DSS. Interestingly, the timely intervention, courage, sense of maturity, wisdom, and knowledge exhibited by Igbo leaders, elders, National Assembly members from the southeast geo-political zone, organizations, and groups, especially, Ohanaeze Ndigbo worldwide, was exemplary as it brought positive impact to the peaceful, free, fair and credible conduct of the poll.
Not left out was the huge deployment of over 100, 000 security personnel that cut across the police, army, navy, men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Department of State Services (DSS), and others who put their lives in the line of duty towards ensuring a hitch-free exercise.
No life was lost, except for the minor skirmishes in Ihiala and nearby communities where police and IPOB members clashed. However, the entire process and outcome call for reappraisal ahead of the 2023 general elections. It becomes imperative now that INEC had rolled out the timetable for 2023 polls so that observed lapses in the Anambra election must be corrected expeditiously to meet future challenges.
Expectedly, one needs no further elucidation on why APGA cruised home with the victory despite the loud criticisms, attacks, and propaganda against the almost eight years of Governor Willie Obiano’s government and the not too rosy 16 years of the party’s hold to power in the Light of the nation-state.
It is instructive that APGA has established itself in the state and the people wholly embraced it, having built a solid structure that hangs on the spirit and courage of late Dim Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu, Ikemba Nnewi, as the founding father and it has continued to command large followership.
Understandably, too, the party parades firm footed soldiers such as Chief Victor Umeh (a senator and former national chairman of the party), Chief Victor Oye, incumbent national chairman, Dr Bianca Ojukwu, Chinedu Obidigwe, a member of the House of Representatives reputed for his political sagacity and Obiano’s right-hand man who also has the ears of the governor at all times as well as a dogged fighter, the Chief of Staff, Primus Odili and many others who make the party thick at every given time.
They all worked hard to ensure that the powerhouse was not disconnected. No doubt, it is always hard to penetrate the brick wall of any sitting governor and to dislodge the powerful arsenals of any incumbent. Such dexterity may have worked for Governor Obiano who is believed must have mopped up huge funds to prosecute the election and to sustain the tempo of continuity with Soludo as his successor.
Soludo is seen as a bride not to be denied the plum job having attempted to get the Agu Awka number one seat twice earlier before this last successful battle. The Isuofia born politician and University of Nigeria Nsukka’s first-class product is a child of necessity for APGA.
The towering pedigree of the renowned economist and ex-Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor to many is what the state needs to make a positive mark hence their strong belief that he will deliver on his mandate, promises, and people’s expectations. Prof. Soludo, de Solution’ for outgoing Governor Obiano, had worked as a consultant for several global and national firms.
He was the governorship candidate of the PDP in 2010 but lost during the second term of Mr Peter Obi. Also, in 2013, the gangling political czar was edged out in the APGA governorship primaries which saw Obiano’s first term. No doubt, prof. Soludo waited for good 12 years before destiny smiled at him as the first Professor to ascend the top seat in the state.
The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Valentine Ozigbo is a fledgling politician with a sincere and courageous aura of humane and patriotism to serve. Ozigbo is a first-timer in the race whose entry in the governorship race witnessed ferocious legal turfs that were saved by the Appeal Court at the last minute.
The party was bedevilled by an endless crisis over supremacy power tussle to control the party’s machinery. He refused to be distracted. He was the man of the moment during the governorship debate as exemplified in his calm disposition and courage and had the support of many elders, leaders, and Board of Trustees (BoT) members of the PDP.
Obi stood firmly behind him but the centre could not hold. It was learnt that the vow by APGA forces never to see Peter Obi’s influence override their dogged fight during the governorship contest, worked for them against the PDP’s loss despite running the most issues-based campaign.
Sadly, PDP presented three governorship candidates; Dr Godwin Maduka who later defected to the Accord (A) party, the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), Chief Obiora Okonkwo, and Ozigbo himself. The influence of popular businessman and politician, Chief Chris Uba, is said to have worked against Ozigbo’s chances. Chief Uba is believed to have seriously worked to see the emergence of his brother, Ugochukwu Uba before the court defined who got what.
Senator Andy Uba’s APC appeared to have given him more odds than opportunities to win the race. Anambra people and by extension Ndigbo are averse to the APC due to the alleged marginalisation of the geo-political zone. For instance, analysts are of the view that up to date, the southeast zone is pained over the side-lining of the area in key appointments in the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The zone has no key representative in the appointment of principal officers in the National Assembly, defence (security chiefs), APC hierarchy, and even in the ministerial cadres. The controversial open grazing programme of the Buhari government sank a deadly nail into the APC coffin during the poll. In addition, the prevailing harsh economic reality and poverty, as well as the massive unemployment rate, have further aggravation to add to the sceptics against the APC.
Again, Senator Andy Uba would have made a mark in the gubernatorial poll in his Aguata LGA where he is believed to have a stronghold, but the influence of two other sons of Ozigbo and Soludo, as well as that of the Boot Party candidates, further depleted his fortunes.
He was rated to have performed abysmally during the governorship debate that people got disenchanted. He also was hunted by his past political activities, part of which was the infamous crisis within the state chapter of the APC, a development that manifested during party governorship primaries in which he was said to have scored over 230, 000 votes.
The Minister of Labour and former governor of the state, Dr Chris Ngige was said to have been side-lined as a national leader of the party. Ngige to date may have forgiven but not forget the humiliation meted to him as governor for three years even against the constitutional one term of four years.
Again, the raging challenge of insecurity across the state and the country at large, to some may have put a wedge to not only Senator Andy Uba and other candidates but also to the majority of voters who were dazed by activities unknown gunmen. This no doubt led to the sudden deaths of Dr Chike Akunyili, husband of the late Prof Dora Akunyili, who was a Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration, NAFDAC. The ruler of
Mkpunando Aguleri in Anambra East local government area, Igwe Alex Edozieuno along the Ezu Bridge, Otuocha, and several others as well as the destruction of billions of naira worth of properties.
However, the momentum now is the glitz and glamour of celebration and congratulatory messages pouring in for Soludo’s victory. The ambience of relishing songs of victory is going down well with Senator Andy Uba who has refused to also show the spirit of sportsmanship by congratulating the Isuofia born governor-elect.
Uba is believed to be reeling in serious thought of taking a second look at the outcome of the poll and to possibly approach the court as against what other candidates, other leaders of the opposition parties, individuals, and groups in the election had done by dropping fame, ego, wealth, pride and coming together in courage and show of statesmanship to congratulate Soludo for showing class with his party, APGA in the whole contest.
Former National Chairman of APGA, Umeh, Chief Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu (Jnr), wife of the former warlord, Dr Bianca Ojukwu, former Governor of the state Mr Peter Obi. Ohanaeze worldwide, groups, captains of industry, the religious, eminent personalities, all have summed it up all in single and collective messages of hope and high expectations which were addressed to Soludo and expression of warm felicitations to Governor Obiano on the party’s victory.
Umeh said, “The election was transparent, and is the best election so far held in the state. We have again won the election in the state, even though some people boasted that they would win the state. This is to tell them that APGA is on the ground, and it is not just about boasting of winning but doing your homework well. I urge them to concede victory to our party and the candidate because the people made a clear choice.”