Anambra Election: Calls for boycott, threats and anxieties
With barely six days to the D Day, the circle of serious contenders for Anambra State governorship seems to have narrowed to six candidates. Concerted observation of the election environment shows the likelihood that the next governor would come from any of the following political parties (arranged in alphabetical order): Action Democratic Party (ADP), All Progressives Congress (APC), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) and United Progressive Party (UPP).
Boycott Or No Boycott
As the countdown continues, one of the issues that have been trending in the state is the concern for unrelenting campaign by members of the outlawed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) for a poll boycott.
Although the activities of the IPOB thinned down shortly after their encounter with the military during the Exercise Python Dance 11, unknown to the authorities, the group went under ground. But, despite their quietude, they continued to work towards the actualization of Nnamdi Kanu’s declaration for a boycott of the Anambra governorship poll to press for a referendum on their agitation for a separate state of Biafra.
Signs that IPOB has not been cowed or frightened away from the path of civil disobedience emerged a forth night when the state Police Command swooped on a printing outfit in the state.
Anambra State Commissioner of Police, Garba Baba Umar, who disclosed the outcome of the operation in a statement, explained that during the raid, his men recovered large quantity of pamphlets and other subversive materials aimed at keeping voters away from the November 18 poll.
He added that members of the outlawed IPOB wanted to distribute the materials to the public, with a view to causing panic and apprehension, thereby keeping them indoors during the election.
While admitting that two suspects, Mr. Ebubechukwu Udeagha and Elochukwu Okoli aged 27 and 37 respectively, were apprehended at the printing shop in Onitsha, the Commissioner of Police assured that adequate security would be provided for the people to perform their civic responsibility.
But despite the Police Commissioner’s appeal on the people to discountenance the propaganda and other tricks of IPOB to enforce boycott of the election, IPOB activists remained adamant in their messaging on various online platforms and through other IEC materials to urge voters to remain indoors on November 18, 2017.
Daubing the Election Day as Nsala Day, IPOB called on the people of Anambra to remain at home to celebrate with their families with good bowls of pounded yam and Nsala soup for the coming of Biafra republic.
The development degenerated into a factional war of words because while a splinter pro-Biafra group, the Movement for Biafrans in Nigeria (MOBIN) addressed a press conference urging eligible voters to come out en masse on November 18 to elect the governor of their choice, IPOB Directorate of State (DoS) short back, describing the group as an Igbo-centric group.
IPOB DoS accused MOBIN of having obtained money from the government of the state and endorsing the incumbent despite evidence of the administration’s lack of accountability and performance.
In a statement signed by its spokespersons, Barrister Emma Nmezu and Dr. Clifford Chukwuemeka Iroanya, IPOB faulted the stand of the “Igbo-centric organization that goes by the acronym ‘MOBIN.’”
IPOB declared: “The entire Biafrans, through the authority invested in the DOS, have determined that they will no longer participate in the Nigerian political process, but will rather welcome a process that will lead to a United Nations-mandated and supervised Referendum on Biafra.
“By participating in Nigerian political process, MOBIN is unwittingly endorsing the Nigerian fraudulent constitution, which lied that Nigerian citizens enacted, made, and gave the said constitution unto themselves.
Meanwhile a socio-political organization of Igbo professionals, Ochie Igbo, has enjoined the factions to eschew further attacks on the election, lamenting that those “fanning the embers of election boycott in Anambra are gaining converts amongst some Igbo youths.”
The group regretted the deleterious effects of such calls to shun participation in civic duties, recalling how in 2006, MASSOB prevailed on Igbo to boycott census, only to regret the action 11 years later.
“While MASSOB is regretting its action, the scars and consequences of that infantile decision abound. It is a paradox of unimaginable proportion how a people that ‘willingly’ kept away from such a national programme will turn around to be crying of marginalisation.
“In 2015 election, the turn out of Ndigbo during that exercise seem to suggest a people ‘traditionally’ nonchalant about political activities. The total number of votes cast by the entire Southeast was less than three million. This under representation of the numerical strength of Nd’Igbo, in a game that is solely determined by number is unacceptable.”
The group maintained that not even the reality of marginalization justifies “the call for boycott of Anambra election by pro-Biafran groups.”
Violence, Rigging Rhetoric
There is also concern in the state about the war of words concerning threats of violence and rigging. Just recently there was a claim that a massive thumb printing of ballot papers were going on in an unnamed premises in Owerri Imo State, even as APGA alleged that a consignment of sensitive electoral materials were found in a hotel in Awka.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr. Nwachukwu Orji, came out to deny that whatever were found at a hotel in the state belonged to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), stressing that there was no way sensitive electoral materials could have found their way to the state as yet.
The REC told journalists that whenever the sensitive materials arrive the state, they should be put in the bank and could only be released with representatives of the political parties and agents of the contestants present.
The APC flag bearer, Hon. Tony Nwoye told his supporters that even though he hails from the same Anambra East local council as the incumbent, he was more popular than the governor stressing that Governor Willie Obiano was afraid of him.
Shortly after meeting with ANSATU youth wing last Thursday, Nwoye said the APGA government was not only afraid of him, but planning to rig the election, adding that the government had doled out large sums of money to rig the election in various communities within their local council.
Nwoye used the opportunity to deny APGA allegations that his party, APC was doing everything possible to rig the poll, pointing out that card readers and other electronic gadgets would not permit electoral malpractices.
“APGA and the incumbent are crying foul because they are intimidated by my followership of youth and massive support from the ordinary citizens,” he stated, lamenting that instead of providing social amenities, the government budgeted public money to brand campaign vehicles.
On his part, the candidate of UPP and former Aviation minister, Chief Osita Chidoka, has sworn that nobody can rig the election, stressing that the people have been fully mobilised “to mount a hard and stiff resistance to any such move from any quarters whatsoever.”
“Nobody can rig this election. Any attempt by any force, be it a political party, an agency or group, to suppress or subvert the will of ndi Anambra in this election will be met with very stiff and hard resistance from the people.
“We have worked very hard in this campaign. We know the demography of voters across the state…Ndi Anambra have had enough and are now ready, more than ever before, to assert and protect their mandate in this election,” he stated.
Chidoka urged INEC to ensure a credible, free and fair election by using the direct electronic transmission of results from the polling units, adding that anything short of a credible poll will not be accepted.
ADP, Ifeanyichukwu Okonkwo, said political corruption stunted the development of Anambra State, pointing out that the state should be competing with Lagos State if the right leadership is put in place, reason he said he would fight corruption with the instrumentality of law and due process.
Said the ADP candidate: “Vision, character, courage, anti-corruption and scholarship, will define our leadership model. No society prospers without a leader; leaders attract other leaders. Leadership is centered on belief and passion of the leader.”
He noted that from 1999 Anambra has experienced leadership that is not team-centred, but individualistic position attainment, stressing that that explains why the state lacks a template for development.
While promising to make equity the watchword of his administration if elected, Okonkwo declared: “I am challenged to change the syndrome of individual prosperity amidst collective failure found in Igbo development profile. I will propose an executive bill for an annual statutory savings of 15 percent of public earnings in bond.
“I have as a plan to run an all-inclusive government made up of 50 percent women, 40 percent men and 10 percent for the physically challenged, as well as, redesign our physical development to include environmental protection and improved sanitation in our communities.”
He promised to also redesigning the Awka Capital Territory with a bye-law to grant the indigenes 20 percent allocation from the capital vote, to enable the town development associations to maintain and regain the Igbo village culture that massive urbanization had over-run.
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