Thursday, 23 November 2017

How Obiano won Anambra gubernatorial poll through stomach infrastructure

Image result for governor Obiano
By Okechukwu Onuegbu

Last Saturday November 18, 2017 Anambra State voters reelected their governor, Chief Willie Obiano of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) for another four year term. Obiano pulled 234,071 to defeat Tony Nwoye of All Progressive Congress (APC), who garnered 98,752 votes. 37 political parties filed gubernatorial candidates for the poll. The candidates of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), United Progressive Party (UPP) and Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA) emerged third, fourth and fifth positions with 70,293; 7,903 and 2,787.  

The INEC Returning Officer (RO) and Vice Chancellor, University of Calabar (UNICAL), Prof. Zana Akpagu, while declaring Obiano as winner of the poll, noted that he won in the whole of 21 local government areas of the state.

Akpagu gave scores of other political parties that participated on the election as follow; AA – 66; AGAP-1036; ACD – 232; ACPN – 346; ADC – 477; APP – 603; APDA - 2,111; APP – 661; DNPP – 70; DA – 97; DPC – 145; GPN – 41; HDP – 31; ID – 37; KOWA – 49; LP – 963; MNN -79; MPPP – 39; MCP -74; NDLP – 33; NEPP – 84; NNPP – 68; NPC – 136; NUP – 69; PDC – 381; PPN – 55; PPP – 87; PRP – 59; SDP – 20; UDP – 222; YDP – 72 and YPP – 65.

He explained that a total number of votes cast was 448771, 422314 was valid votes cast, 26457 total number of votes rejected, 457311 voters were accredited, even though Anambra has a total of 2064134 registered voters. The VC noted that the rejected votes were due to violation of electoral laws ranging from over voting, ballot snatching and others at some polling units across the state.

Few days to the election, the political terrain was heated with hate speeches from contenders and their supporters, and palpable fear following the deployment of uncountable numbers of the military and the Department of State Services (DSS), 26, 000 Police officers and 14, 000 members of Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corp (NSCDC). That could be as a result of tension caused by some members of proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) which continuously insisted that nobody would conduct election in the Southeastern part of the country without first granting referendum to Biafra.

From social media to traditional media and offline/house to campaign, political gladiators run down their opponents while presenting their respective agenda if elected. At campaign rallies, money, souvenirs, food stuff, among other things were usually shared to mammoth crowd of supporters. Also, there were reports of endorsements of the candidates flying about from renowned and unknown groups, statesmen, religious leaders/seers, etc. 

The APGA government in the state, which eventually won the poll, went a bit further in its campaign by flagging off new road and other infrastructural projects, distributing 326 campaign buses to 326 electoral ward chairmen of APGA, reviewing and promotion of civil servants, prompt payment of workers and pensioners, appointments of new special assistants and senior special assistants, to mention a few.  

Election day

On Election Day, vote buying and selling as well as partial voter apathy characterised the poll across the 4,608 polling units and voting centres in the state as most party chieftains, especially APGA, PDP and APC were spotted inducing voters financially and publicly sharing money.

In Anambra north where the governorship candidates of PDP, Oseloka Obaze, Governor Willie Obiano of APGA and APC candidate, Tony Nwoye hail from, Prince Chinedu Idigo, PDP chieftains, who voted at 007, Otuocha in Anambra East Council area, lamented that the election was marred with voter apathy and monetary inducement.

Similarly, the same case was reported in several polling units in Anambra South where the governorship candidate of Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA), Godwin Ezeemo, and deputy governorship candidates of PDP, APC and UPP, Chidi Onyemelukwe, Dozie Ikedife Jnr. and Marcel Okeke hail from. Marcel Okeke in an interview with newsmen after voting, accused some parties of buying votes with money at his community Ogbunka ward 1 & 2.

In Anambra Central Senatorial zone, where Nkem Okeke, deputy governorship candidate of APGA and other unpopular governorship candidates, and political heavyweights like Engr. Arthur Eze, Peter Obi and others come from, Chief Sylvester Nwa-Obualor after voting in his polling booth in Agulu acknowledged that vote buying was in process but exonerated his party.

As the electorates suddenly became a beautiful bride and sold their votes to the highest bidder while sacrificing integrity and merit for mere filthy lucre, the security men deployed for the election which range from 10 to 20 per a polling unit and comprises of the police, Directorate of State Security (DSS), and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and INEC officers equally parted with some cash from the political power buyers. Amounts shared to these people and voters were between N1000 to N15,000.

With these, some eligible voters either smiled to the bank or the closest beer parlor on presentation of their voters cards. For instance some voters were found telling some public figures from their communities (at polling units) that they would not vote if they dare “pocket” what were provided to pay them “after all neither my parents nor my sibling is contesting for this election”.

Collaborating this fact, the Centre for Law Enforcement Education in Nigeria (CLEEN) Foundation, while presenting its finding after the election noted that its observers sent to monitor it reported brazen cases of vote buying and voter inducement involving the major political parties in most of the polling units.

The Assistant Programme Manager, Public Safety and Security CLEEN, Mrs. Chigozirim Okoro, who disclosed this while presenting the reports of the group findings on conduct of security agents during the November 18, 2017, governorship poll, bemoaned that the “Illegal acts took place often in the full glare of security agent who appeared unable or unwilling to deter such electoral offences.”

According to her, “In most cases, security agents appeared uninterested in the act. In some cases, they made feeble attempt to drive the party agents behind the vote buying away from polling station. In few cases where they mustered courage to arrest the suspects, they usually let them go following interventions by community leaders or youth”.

Apart from monetary inducement, it was observed that some political cooked and served sumptuous meals for electorates at Awka ward 8, Njikoka ward 1, Dunukofia and other notable places. The election also witnessed apathy as most shops and kiosks especially those trading on food stuffs, provisions, airtime vendors (recharge cards), restaurants, pure water (sachet water sellers), wheelbarrow food vendors, fast food, ‘beer parlours’ and even transporters like motorcyclists and taxi drivers were seen receiving patronize even at the various polling booths.

Again, it was discovered that about 95% pay-per viewing football viewing centres opened for business as youths and adults were seen watching their favourite European premier league at the places. Thus, the apathy may not be as a result of the threats by Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to boycott the election because the state witnessed it in the 2013 governorship election. The registered voters for the election 1,770,127 but 465,891 were accredited numbers of voters, and 442,242 was total votes cast (26.3% turnout). The same thing also occurred in the 2006 population census.

Generally, it was gathered that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) failed woefully to strictly adhere to its earlier scheduled time of commencement of accreditation and proper voting due to their late arrival at the various polling units, absent of political parties’ agents, incidents of malfunctioned card readers, voters’ deliberate delays to vote and other exigencies.

The electoral umpire earlier promised that its staff, polling materials and security personals would be available at the respective polling units on Friday night (a day to the election) in order to enable the eligible voters exercise their franchise on or before the 2pm closing hour. However, most of them were found trying to locate those places on Saturday morning and as a result, accreditation and voting began at most polling units between and 1pm instead of scheduled 8am.

Some of the INEC ad-hoc staff, who spoke to our reporter even claimed that the exercise began late because they were sent directly from the local government collation centres not the community collation centres as earlier planned by INEC. 

Also, there were reports that malfunctioning of card readers in most polling units constituted technical hitches during the November 18 governorship election in the state which INEC technical team ratified in some local government areas while incident form was filled by such voters in other polling units. In some voting centres, it was observed that card reader recognised voters Permanent voters cards but failed to capture their finger prints. This affected the governorship candidate of Felix Obi-Okafor, who was found lamenting in his polling unit at St. Gabriel Catholic Church Okpuno as at 10.30 am.

Other voters who said they gathered at the centre as early as 7:30 am were seen going home on the protest that they can’t continue to wait for the card reader to start function while those who registered in other neighbouring pulling units had all voted and have gone home to attend to other matters.

But despite this, the Anambra State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr Nkwachukwu Orji, thanked Anambra voters for coming out en masse to exercise their franchise, which he said the INEC had fulfilled its promise of giving them a free, fair credible poll.

The Anambra State Chairman, Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) and State Chairman of Accord party, Hon. Batho Igwedibia was among those first to commend the INEC and other relevant authorities for their conduct during the just concluded poll.

Igwedibia, who expressed happiness over the outcome, however, asked the INEC to double its effort towards ensuring that issues of card readers malfunction and other hitches would not affect it again.

The Inspector General of Police, IGP Ibrahim K. Idris also expressed utmost satisfaction over the poll, even as he commended the entire Police Personnel, Officers and Men of other Security and Safety Agencies, CSOs and other observers deployed for Election Security for their professional conduct during the election.

While accepting the outcome of the election, Tony Nwoye of APC, Oseloka Obaze of PDP, Osita Chidoka of UPP and Godwin Ezeemo of PPA, said they would not go to court even though it was a show of the highest bidder.

Addressing a gathering comprising APGA stalwarts and opposition, Governor Willie Obiano, after receiving his certificate of return at INEC headquarters in Awka, thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for allowing free, fair and credible election in the state, and promised to fulfill his mandate in the next four years.

The winner

A breakdown of the results per local government area show that in Orumba South, APGA pulled 8125 votes, APC (3808), PDP (2412), PPA (150), UPP (10).

In Ekwusigo, council area of Sir Emeka Offor and other decreme la crème of PDP, APGA got 8, 595; APC (5412); PDP (3856); UPP (320), PPA (38). Similarly, in Njikoka APGA won with 16944; APC (5756); PPA (60); UPP (13).

Also, in Dunukofia, the council area of Engr. Arthur Eze, APGA got 8575; APC (7016); PDP (1530); UPP (106); while in Awka South, the results show that APGA garnered 18, 957; APC (6167); PDP (5354); UPP (150) and PPA (99).

Likewise, in Ayamelum, APGA got 14593; APC (5412); PDP (2,323); UPP (77); PPA (12); while in Aguata, APGA pulled 13167; APC (5807); PDP (1289); UPP (2847) and PPA (1289).

In Onitsha north, APGA scored 10, 138; APC (3808); PDP (4143); UPP (435); PPA (42); and in Anaocha, former Governor Peter Obia’s home, APGA garnered 11237; PDP (6554); APC (5297); UPP (146) and PPA (68).

Similarly, in Ogbaru where Obaze hails from, APGA pulled 6615; PDP (4416); APC (3415); PPA (75) and UPP (59); while in Idemili South, the results projected APGA as having scored 5742; APC (4063); PDP (2629); UPP (600) and PPA (55).

In Oyi, APGA got 11840; APC (5085); PDP (1296); UPP (111); PPA (24); and in Orumba north, APGA garnered 8766; APC (3551); PDP (3865); UPP (190); PPA (132); while in Awka north, APGA pulled 7161; APC (3727); PDP (3347); PPA (107) and UPP (92).

In Onitsha South, APGA had 7082; PDP (3423); APC (2012); UPP (471); PPA (94); and in Ihiala, APGA garnered 14379; APC (7894); PDP (4776); APDA (149); UPP (128); PPA (58); in Anambra East, APGA got 20510; APC (5248); PDP (1132); UPP (53) and PPA (34).

In Nnewi South, APGA pulled 10465; PDP (3255); APC (2765); UPP (596); PPA (174); while in Nnewi North, where PDP and APC deputy governorship candidates come from,  APGA had 10845; PDP (4157); APC (3616); UPP (462); APDA (107) and PPA (56).

In Anambra West, APGA won with 8152; APC (4261); PDP (1578); PPA (99); UPP (3); in Idemili north, APGA had 12180; APC (4634); UPP (2847); PDP (2767); PPA (109); and APDA (71). 

In Idemili North House of Assembly election, the wife of demised Honourable, Francis Mmegbuanaeze, and a candidate of APGA on the poll, got a total of 11526 votes to defeat her opponents of APC (5677), UPP (2940) and PDP (2758).



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