How Anambra poll was won and lost

Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano

It was a tight race. It gave some residents goose pimples but in the end, incumbent Governor Willie Obiano emerged winner of the keenly contested governorship election in Anambra State.

Like his predecessor, Mr. Peter Obi, who served two terms (eight years) in office, Obiano has been re-elected to do another four years. He had to pass through a race involving mainly his brothers to win a second term.

Many had not given the governor opportunity for reelection because those that nominated him in the first instance in 2013 said he did not do well. They, therefore, sponsored candidates in other political parties to take over from him.

And latching on the unwritten power equation in the state, his traducers, including his former godfather, Mr. Peter Obi had introduced and sponsored other candidates from his Anambra North Senatorial Zone to challenge him in the election.

However, in the final result of the election which was declared by the Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar, Prof Zana Akpabio as chief returning officer in the election, Obiano secured a total of 234,071 votes on behalf of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to beat the All Progressives Congress’ (APC’s) Tony Nwoye who got 98,752 and Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP’s) Oseloka Obaze, who got 70, 293. He stated that 422,314 votes were valid while 26 457 were rejected votes and 448,771 were total votes cast in the election.

Many factors were responsible for the outcome of the peaceful governorship election in Anambra State, including chiefly the incumbency of the state governor, the general conduct of the exercise by INEC, the role of money in the process, and blackmail or coercion of those that wield influence and power.

Incumbency factor
There were 37 candidates that ran for the office of the governor. Willie Obiano is disposed to funds and was ready to spend it to return himself to power; other candidates were literally scratching their heads over campaign finances. This was apparent in Obiano’s posters and billboards, which dotted the nooks and crannies of Anambra State.

In most cases, such posters and billboards were adorned with photographs of former Biafran warlord, Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu as if he was the one running in the election.

However, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Obiano saw his return to office as a challenge, especially when his estranged godfather, Peter Obi had vowed to remove him. A source put this scenario thus: “It is an open secret that Obiano never dreamt of becoming a local government councilor, talk less of assuming the post of council chairman, a lawmaker either at state or federal level and now he has become a governor. So whatever challenge that was thrown to him gingered him to fight further.

The source continued: “Only a miracle could have stopped Obiano from winning the election from the way he mobilized resources, men and materials for the election. You hear people say that there were votes for money; reports of inducements both on the side of the security officials and INEC officials; these were things that manifested that day in favour of the incumbent. It has happened and we are looking forward to the next four years and what it has for Anambra State.”

Critics had accused the like of Peter Obi, who solidly stood behind the PDP candidate, Obaze and billionaire businessman, Arthur Eze of resurrecting the issue of “godfatherism” in Anambra politics – a matter that was thought to be dead, and buried during the first spell of Senator Chris Ngige as governor of Anambra State.

Recall that Ngige’s political godfather then, Chief Chris Uba, used all means, including “kidnapping” of the governor when he (Ngige) failed to honour a pledge to be paying a certain monthly amount to defray the expenses he (Uba) incurred in ensuring that Ngige was manipulated electorally into the governor’s seat.

The courts were to remove Ngige from power on the strength of the petitions/appeals filed by Mr. Obi, who was eventually sworn-in as governor after almost three years of political litigation.

In Obiano’s case, he mobilised all needed in the election to ensure victory and shame not only his detractors but those who stood in the way of the election to ensure that the people did not turn up to vote on Saturday.

A source stated that the governor allegedly gave marching orders to all his appointees scattered in all communities of the state to ensure that they did not only deliver their wards and polling units but to guard against anything that could make their people come out of the vote. They did not disappoint, as almost all of them delivered their polling units including Mrs. Bianca Ojukwu, Victor Umeh, Ifeanyi Uba among others.

Role and power of money
Commenting on the role of money in Saturday’s election, a respondent alleged: “Voters were induced with money to vote for most of the political parties. One of those who brought the money confessed when he was caught on the day of the election that the money was meant for party agents. But why will that be on the Election Day?

And giving more ammunition to his critics was Governor Obiano’s last-minute distribution of resources to traditional institutions and religious bodies in the state, and initiating multi-billion naira projects that may not even be on the drawing board before his term expires in 2022 – all obviously geared towards getting support and votes for his party at the just concluded election.

Poll trackers had indicated that money began to change hands right from the flag-off of campaigns. But as one of them told The Guardian, “The amount of money that has entered the state in the last few weeks is mind-blowing, in the region of billions of Naira.”

Reports across the state spoke of a certain business mogul cum politician as “voting and dropping” N2 million for each of the 327 wards (some said in each of the 4,608 polling units) in the 21 local government councils, for “mobilisation of voters to cast their votes for the candidate of the APC, Tony Nwoye.

But many poll watchers doubted this, as such financial enhancement was not apparent in erecting even billboards or posters of the candidate across the state except in his “presumed strongholds and by extension in Anambra north senatorial district.

Obiano’s giant strides in agriculture, prompt payment of salary to civil servants, consistence that he will do only four years and hand over power to Anambra Central Snatorial District among others, gave him victory over the rest.

The Peter Obi factor
Although Peter Obi, who was former governor of the state under the APGA, jettisoned the party for the PDP, sources said that his role in his new party created the loopholes that gave APGA victory in the election.

It was gathered that his choice of Oseoloka Obaze, who joined the PDP early in the year as governorship candidate was akin to imposition on the state chapter of the party that was recovering from crisis. Sources stated that while the members were complaining that Obaze was not properly registered with the party, the way the matter was handled created further gulf that some of the stakeholders including Nicholas Ukachukwu, Ifeanyi Uba, Ken Emeakayi, Annie Okonkwo among others opted out of the party for others.

As such, while the PDP was struggling to explain the choice of Oseloka, the APGA was moving into the grassroots. On the other hand, majority saw Obi’s insistence on Obaze as imposition on the people of the state.

Tony Nwoye
Majority see him as a strong politician but insist that he chose a wrong political party and that allowing him to emerge may truncate the unwritten power rotation in the state. As such it was better to allow Obiano serve out his tenure and for the power to move to another zone to reduce tension and for fair play. He could not be struggling for power with his kinsman, who had also shown signs of improving the economy of the state in spite of the difficulties being faced by the nation.



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