ON SATURDAY, November
18, 2017, the good people of
Anambra will elect the person
who will govern the state for
the next four years.
All eyes will be on the state
not only because this is a
standalone election but also
because of the antecedents
of the political gladiators.
General elections are more
than a year away from
now. The reason why this
governorship election is
holding on Saturday rather
than the first quarter of 2019
is ensconced in the womb of
Anambra politics.
For those who may
have forgotten, in 2003,
the then ruling Peoples
Democratic Party (PDP)
and political godfathers
with former President
Olusegun Obasanjo as their
patron saint orchestrated
an unprecedented electoral
heist that denied Peter Obi,
who ran on the platform of
the Chekwas Okorie-led All
Progressives Grand Alliance
(APGA), victory. Dr. Chris
Ngige, the PDP candidate, was
handed the political diadem.
It was a brazen affront on the
inalienable right of the people
to elect their leaders.
It took Obi’s doggedness,
the schism in the relationship
between Ngige and his
godfathers and a steadfast
judiciary to restore Obi’s
mandate. But it took almost
three years to achieve that
victory. Ngige was sacked by
the Court of Appeal on March
15, 2006 and Obi was sworn in
two days later on March 17.
It equally took a resolute
Supreme Court in its definitive
and historic judgement on
June 14, 2007, which cut short
the 16-day regime of Senator
Andy Uba, to give Obi his full
four-year tenure.
Justice Iorgyer Katsina-
Alu, who delivered the lead
judgment, held that section 180
(2) (a) of the 1999 Constitution
on which Obi anchored his
case for the extension of his
tenure of office provided that
he shall vacate office at the
expiration of a period of four
years commencing from when
he took the oath of office.
That is the history of
staggered elections in this
dispensation.
What is most interesting today
is that almost all the dramatis
personae in the 2003 saga are
once again in the trenches,
squaring up against each other,
some by proxy.
Governor Willy Obiano is
flying APGA’s flag. Okorie, who
was forced out of APGA in the
heat of the political brouhaha,
is also in the fray with his new
political party, the United
Progressives Party (UPP), with
Osita Chidoka, former Aviation
Minister, as its candidate.
Ironically, Obi has joined the
same PDP that was his political
nemesis, having quit APGA after
his eight years in office. Today, he
is not only PDP’s doppelganger
in Anambra, discerning political
observers see Saturday’s election
as a proxy war between him and
his successor, Obiano. Oseloka
Obaze, the PDP candidate, who
interestingly served as Secretary
to the State Government (SSG)
in both Obi and Obiano’s
administrations is perceived
in some quarters more as a
pawn in the Anambra political
chessboard.
To complete the circus, Ngige,
who made the unenviable
history as the first and only
sitting governor in Nigeria to be
kidnapped has joined forces, as
the APC leader in the state, with
the same malevolent characters
that became his nemesis. In
fact, Tony Nwoye, his party’s
candidate is believed to be the
enforcer of the group that made
his stint in government house a
nightmare.
But as they say in politics, there
are neither permanent enemies
nor friends, only interests. The
dramatic realignment of these

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political forces should teach the
electorate a lesson on how not to
fight other people’s political turf
wars.
So, even at the best of times,
elections in Nigeria are sticky. It
is even more so in Anambra. To
make matters worse, politically,
this cannot by any stretch of
the imagination, be Nigeria’s
honeymoon.
Politics in Nigeria is a zerosum
game. The stakes are always
sky-high, with contending
elephantine egos. The November
18, election is not different.
If you throw the dice of the
Indigenous Peoples of Biafra’s
(IPOB) threat of “vote and die”
into the mix, the picture of a
combustible exercise pops up.
But it shouldn’t be so. Yes,
election is a serious affair
because contestations for power
brew tension.
But at the end of the day, it
all boils down to the exercise
of civic duties. What will make
the difference will be what the
Independent National Electoral
Commission (INEC) and
security agencies do to enhance
the fairness of the exercise. Here,
perception is key. The success or
failure of the election will largely
depend on INEC’s performance.
Anambra deserves better
than being the yardstick
for measuring bad political
behaviour. The state is one of
the most vibrant politically,
socially and economically in the
country. It boasts of some of the
most intellectually accomplished
Nigerians. And the people
deserve a visionary leader, a
creative thinker, who will sustain
the momentum of development.
On this leadership trajectory,
the incumbent, Obiano, is

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hitting the bull’s eye unlike
some of the candidates with
quixotic governance templates.
Many Anambrarians are today
ululating because they can sleep
at night with eyes closed because
of the level of security provided
by the Obiano administration.
If the people are ready and the
candidates have crisscrossed
all the nooks and crannies of
the state canvassing for votes,
the INEC and security forces
must also deliver on their own
mandates.
Will they? Time will tell.
But, there are fears that the
ruling APC might use the
federal might just as the PDP did
in 2003 to influence the outcome
of the poll. That will be a recipe
for crisis.
Anambra governorship is not
a trophy that must be captured
to assuage the feelings of those
who insist the southeast must
join Nigeria’s pugnacious
mainstream politics.
Opposition politics is not a
taboo in a democracy. In any
case, didn’t southeast play
mainstream politics in the 16
years that the PDP held sway?
What did it benefit the region?
To create a conducive
environment for free and
fair poll, the proposed visit
of President Muhammadu
Buhari to Anambra should
be called off until after the
election. At this late hour and
given the prevailing political
circumstance, such visit is
belated and ill-advised. People
have already decided who will
get their vote. Buhari’s visit now
cannot change that. It will only
raise political temperature.
IPOB’s threat to disrupt the
poll is also counter-productive.
If they dare, it will only lead
to more avoidable deaths. It
can neither stop the poll nor
delegitimize the result.
I have always canvassed
against the militarization of
our electoral process. This
poll is not an exception. On
September 13, the Inspector
General of Police, Ibrahim
Idris, said a total 21,084
policemen will be deployed for
the election. 17,320 of them will
be stationed within the 4,330
polling units in the state, 1,280
will be deployed in 320 polling
centres, and 2,484 will patrol
414 major streets in the state
throughout the election period.
Three helicopters, gunboats
and additional Police Mobile
Force Units will be deployed in
the southeast.
Such massive deployment
will only make sense if it is
in furtherance of the poll’s
integrity. But if, as we have seen
in the past, it is to protect vested
interests in their nefarious
activities and intimidate law
abiding citizens, then the
purpose will be defeated.
INEC must be transparent
and fair to all. Anambrarians
are ready and the candidates
have done their bit. Party
agents must be accorded their
statutory rights at the polling
booths and collation centres.
To manipulate the results
and cajole aggrieved parties
to go to court is a no-brainer.
Conducting free, fair, credible
elections is not rocket
science. Even if it is, we are
not re-inventing the wheels.
Therefore, free, fair, credible
poll is the irreducible minimum
expected on Saturday.

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