– Anambra Election 2021: The Countdown BeginsTHISDAYLIVE – THISDAY Newspapers
Anambra Guber Poll: Does Uzodinma Know Something That Others Don’t?
Barring unforeseen circumstances, the gubernatorial elections in Anambra State will hold on November 6, 2021. In itself, the election is making some wrong headlines especially with the palpable threat by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to disrupt it. Of course, the authorities have moved to forestall the security threats to the election by deploying two Deputy Inspector-Generals, Five AIGs, 14 Police Commissioners to Anambra but while Nigerians wait to see what happens; the message should not be lost on us. IPOB’s influence in the South-East can already be seen in the sit-at-home being enforced across the region every Monday; and the potential threat to a scheduled election by a group that has been dismissed as being inconsequential by the authorities. Were IPOB to be successful in keeping people away from the polling booths on November 6, that would further raise question marks over the ability of the Nigerian state to provide adequate security for most activities.
The threats to the election may have stolen all the headlines but equally important in the preparations for the election is the fears expressed by some of the contestants on the ability of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that the election is free and fair. Eyebrows were raised when some of the contestants were seen campaigning in faraway Lagos and also when some of them suggested or hinted at plans by the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) to snatch Anambra by all means. In both instances, the message is the same; were the other parties to fail at the November 6 polls; that failure would automatically be blamed on security threat or power show by the APC.
However, given the facts available, those who have said “Anambra is not Imo’ miss the point; elections are not won in the media but in the polling booths. Let’s take a look at the last gubernatorial election in Imo and how Senator Hope Uzodinma emerged governor of the state.
The last gubernatorial election in Imo is a lesson in doing the basics when it comes to political contests. First, as any reasonable student of politics will agree, you have to move people to come out to vote for you, which in the circumstances is obvious. Then, you have to ensure that all the votes of your people count. Fail in any of these two basic assignments and you have no business contesting for political office. Now let’s review what happened at the elections held on March 9, 2019. Fact – the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the final scores as follows; Ihedioha (PDP) 273,404 (winner), Uche Nwosu (AA) 190,364, Ifeanyi Ararume (APGA) 114,676 and Uzodinma (APC) 96,458.
However, for elections into the office of a governor, and as Nigeria’s most recent history has shown, there is a an established grieviance redress process that begins at the electoral tribunal and ends at the Supreme Court. All the aspirants in Imo exercised their rights to contest Ihedioha’s emergence by heading to the electoral tribunal. The present Imo State Governor, Sen. Hope Uzodinma hinged his own claim on the argument that the results from 388 polling units were not included in the final tally by INEC. He argued that the non-inclusion of results from these units denied him a total 213,695 votes due to him whereas Ihedioha scored only 1,903 votes in those units going by the results captured in Forms EC8A.
Though he failed at the tribunal, Uzodinma took his petition to the Court of Appeal where four of the judges ruled against him but a minority ruling held among others, that (1) the Forms EC8A from the 388 units were wrongfully excluded and that (2) Ihedioha’s lawyers did not prove that the results sheets were forged. Justice Frederick Oho of the Nigerian Court of Appeal, in his dissenting ruling wrote “It is also clear on the record that after the appellants had explicitly set out in the Petition a schedule of all the polling unit results, which were allegedly excluded from collation at ward level by the 3rd respondent (INEC), they led evidence through several witnesses to prove their case as contained in the Petition”.
What the APC’s candidate successfully achieved at the Appeal Court is to create the ground to doubt the election of Ihedioha and the questions are obvious: how did INEC omit results from 388 polling units from the total? Who is responsible for the error? Who stood to benefit from that error? Should the votes of people in those 388 polling units not have mattered? For those who believe that electoral cycles are important in deepening democracy, those questions are important and addressing them will clear the air about Imo and the last gubernatorial elections.
In this case, obviously the major beneficiary of the omission is Ihedioha. A simple arithmetic shows that were those excluded votes from the 388 polling units to be added to the tally of both Ihedioha and Uzodinma; the total outcome would change drastically. Let’s remember that the 1st Respondent (Ihedioha) was declared winner by the 3rd respondent (INEC) with a total of 258,259 votes while Uzodinma was said to have scored 96,458 votes. Adding the omitted votes from the 388 polling units will then have Uzodinma winning with a total of 310,153 votes while Ihedioha’s total tally would be 260,162 votes.
As Senator Hope uzodimma himself has said: “There is a reason for the supreme court. In the doctrine and principle of democracy, the law expected that there would be grievances and malpractices in the electoral process. When this happens, the only legitimate right you have is to seek redress at the court. And of course, the court determines. Remember that this is not the first time so many elections have held where the candidates went to court and they got justice. So, why will mine be different?”
If the INEC failed to count peoples vote and an aggrieved contestant goes through the constitutionally established process to make those votes count, how come he is vilified? And how come some of the contestants in Anambra believe the constitutionally established means of settling electoral disputes will work against them. That there are suggestions that ‘Anambra is not Imo’ makes it look like a lack of faith in the same process they have signed up for by contesting for political office.
Perhaps it is also important to remember that the statement that has angered Imolites is credited to Professor Charles Soludo who is contesting to be governor of Anambra State. Given the fact that he has been chasing this political dream since 2009 when he first announced his desire on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), many would question his moral right to question the legitimacy of the election in Imo. The PDP, the platform under which Soludo made his name as Chief Economic Adviser to former President Obasanjo; Chief Executive of the National Planning Commission of Nigeria and most memorably, as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was notorious for upturning people’s mandate by using state apparatus.
The former CBN governor was himself a beneficiary of a discredited political process that threw him up as candidate on the ticket of the PDP in an election he lost to Peter Obi, the candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA). After he announced his interest in becoming governor in Anambra, the PDP selected Soludo as their consensus candidate for the position from a field of 47 candidates; a decision that was contested by 23 of the 47 aspirants, citing lack of transparency in the process. His candidacy was affirmed by the then ruling party, which overruled the protests before he went on to lose in an election that was adjudged as free and fair by most observers. He did not fare any better in 2013 as his defection to APGA ahead of the elections of 2014 ended in failure.
The APGA Screening Committee in mid-August 2013 disqualified Soludo along with five other candidates and with that decision ended his dream of being governor outside central banking. Soludo’s paranoia about this weekend’s election is understandable given those earlier failures but attempting to preempt the process by discrediting it has all the makings of desperation on his part.
Equally important is the new-found influence of Imo in both the South East and Abuja. The governor who cut his political tooth in the second republic with his sojourn in the National Party of Nigeria is no stranger to political battles. It was one of such battles that saw him being sworn in on May 29, 2011 as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, representing Imo State (West Senatorial District). Earlier in January 2011, Uzodinma had defeated other candidates including Senator Osita Izunaso at the PDP senatorial primary for the Imo West, with 2,147 votes against the 891 votes recorded by his closes rival. Though he was disqualified by a federal high court judgment for not being properly cleared by the PDP electoral panel led by Nwafor-Orizu.
However, he got reprieve via a court of appeal judgment which issued a stay of execution while the case was being decided. While the court of appeal upheld the federal high court judgement, Uzodinma’s petition to the Supreme Court cleared his path to the election that was held on April 2011 elections, in which he polled 85,042 votes, ahead of former Governor Achike Udenwa then of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) who got 64,228; and Nonye Rajis-Okpara of APGA with 57,110 votes. In May 2011, the Supreme Court overturned the earlier decisions and declared that Uzodinma was the valid candidate and therefore had been elected. Needless to say that he went ahead to win re-election for a second term in the Senate during the 2015 election.
So, unlike critics such as Soludo, the Imo governor is a battle-hardened political powerhouse who understands what it takes to win elections. It is interesting that for both the Senate election, which he contested on the platform of the ruling PDP and the gubernatorial election which he contested on the platform of the APC; Uzodinma did not depend on state power to rig as some are insinuating. He used the constitutionally recognised process of settling electoral disputes and came out victorious. If he were to be a rigger, there would have been no need for long court sessions as all state apparatus and the INEC would have ensured his victory at first attempt. It is obvious that the Imo State governor knows something that others don’t. Uzodinma demonstrated faith in the constitutionally established process, a trait that all election contestants including Soludo would do well to emulate.
In the final analysis and provided the constitutionally established process of settling all grievances are allowed to run its due process; it is the people of Anambra who will have the last say. Dragging Uzodinma and the good people of Imo into the election in Anambra is unnecessary. Since it is their votes that count; the contestants should focus on canvassing for those votes rather than distracting the good people of Imo from the rebuilding process that is ongoing.
Andy Ikpeazu, a Public Analyst, writes in from Plot 15B, Omoyemi Solarin Street, Block 3, Phase 1, Site 2, Kubwa, Abuja. He can also be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org
Anambra 2021 Governorship Election Facts
By Nseobong Okon-Ekong
*Governor Willie Obiano won the Anambra State gubernatorial elections on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and was sworn in on March 17, 2014 to succeed Mr. Peter Obi. His tenure will expire on March 17, 2022
* Dr. Nwachukwu Orji is the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Anambra State
*Candidates of 18 political parties are in the November 6, 2021 Anambra governorship contest
*The three leading candidates in the race; Professor Chukwuma Soludo of APGA, Senator Andy Uba of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Mr. Valentine Ozigbo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are all from Aguata local government area
* There are four candidates from Nnewi-Senator Ifeanyi Ubah of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), Mr. Obiora Agbasimalo of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Ben Etiaba of the Action Alliance, whose mother was once a governor of the state and the first female governor in Nigeria and Col. Geoff Onyejegbu (rtd.) of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM).
*The total land area of Anambra is 4,,844 km2 with a population of 4,177,821 from the 2006 census, but the Anambra State Government has insisted on a population of 11,400,000
*Since the current democratic dispensation began in 1999, Anambra has not recorded up to 50 per cent voter turnout in governorship election, a point duly noted by Uba. The only time it managed to record such participation was in 2007 but the election was mired in rigging controversies *Since 2007, the voter turnout in the state has been on a progressive decline.
*In the 2010 elections, only 302,000 voters out of the 1.84 million that registered came out to vote. In 2013, the governorship elections only recorded 24 per cent of the 1,770,127 registered voters
*In 2017, only 22 per cent of voters took part in the Anambra election. The number of registered voters at that election was 2,064,134.
*The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) last month revealed that the number of eligible voters to participate in the November 6 election is 2,525,471. According to the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the electoral umpire arrived at the figure after adding the 77,475 valid registrants at the end of the first quarter of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) to the state’s voters’ register which had 2,447,996 eligible voters used for the 2019 general election.
*INEC has ruled out voting in 88 Polling Units because there are no voters
* The present Anambra state was created by the regime of General Ibrahim Babangida on August 27, 1991
* Anambra State consists of 21 Local Government Areas.
*Anambra has three Senatorial Districts – North, South and Central
* There are 11 Federal Constituencies in Anambra-Aguata, Anambra North/Anambra South, Awka North/Awka South, Idemili North/Idemili South, Ihiala, Njikoka/Dukunofia/Anaocha, Nnewi North/Nnewi South, Ogbaru, Onitsha North/Onitsha South, Orumba North/Orumba South and Oyi/Oyamulem
Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko urges the people of Anambra State to appreciate the importance of the governorship election to the entire South-east region
Forty-eight hours to the Anambra State gubernatorial election, it may be necessary to remind our people, especially Anambrarians, that Anambra, as the leading light in this country, must endeavour to get her acts together in order to inspire a new social and political order.
Everything should be done to, manage properly, the quite avoidable and unfortunate untidy sociopolitical environment, created unconsciously by political hubris and leadership errors.
This unpleasant political climate of uncertainty, buck passing, name calling, finger pointing and muddled up cocktail of meaningless recriminations, cannot actually be divorced from the poor handling of agitation closely tied to the painful unwillingness by those in power, and for for a very long time, to genuinely address and fairly but firmly resolve the lingering Igbo question within the Nigerian project.
Consistently shying away from the inevitable truth, simply deepened the melee. Applying the wrong strategy, only worsened the mess. That is the unpalatable truth.
Pushing the truth under the carpet and consistently postponing the evil day, brought us to this impasse.
Absolving one’s self or group, while engaging in recriminations, wouldn’t help the situation now. Mistakes were made by all sides. Current fire brigade efforts, clearly aimed at only interim relief, will also not bring lasting peace. Courage must be found, to address the crisis altruistically from the root.
This is where bold and sincere leadership comes in. Our elders and political leaders have floundered for so long, almost abdicating their responsibilities, thereby compounding the crisis.
The situation shouldn’t have degenerated to this shameful level, had the right and needful leadership been shown earlier than now.
Having said this, I humbly call on our aggrieved brothers, to place the security of our land, the welfare of our beleaguered citizens and the future and destiny of our people, into consideration at this delicate period. I call on the authorities to show restraint and to remember that excessive use of force, had only worsened the situation. Finally, after a careful consideration of the leading candidates, and placing the inevitable reshaping of the destiny of Ndigbo at this auspicious moment in history, as guide.
If Anambra gets it right, Alaigbo will get it right.
I conclude by sounding a note of warning to the people hounding only Presidential hopefuls from the East, Supreme court justice from the East and now entertainment and hospitality businessmen from the East, that this very persecution, suggestive of selective oppression, actually inspired the anger, frustration, bitterness and loss of faith powering and fuelling the uncontrollable agitation ravaging the land today.
There’s no wisdom whatsoever, in towing and continuing the same trajectory that brought us here. Wisdom is profitable to direct.
Nseobong Okon-Ekong, Nume Ekeghe in Lagos, Chuks Okocha, Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja and David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka
Chairman of the National Peace Committee (NPC) and former Head of State, General Abdulsalamii Abubakar, has appealed to political parties and their candidates in Anambra State to accept the outcome of tomorrow’s governorship election once pronounced credible. Abdulsalamii made the call in Awka at a Peace Accord signing ceremony preparatory to the poll, which was attended by candidates of the 18 contesting political parties.
Abdulsalamii, who coordinated the signing of the peace understanding, assured that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had promised a credible election in the state.
Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, said the commission had, against incredible odds, done all it should to make the electoral process smooth. Yakubu called for a violence-free poll.
Remarkably, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) had a change of heart and suspended its stay-at-home order, billed to commence today.
But the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) called for the release of the detained IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu. PDP said releasing Kanu and engaging the group in a dialogue would help to stem the tide of insecurity in Anambra State and the entire South-east.
In a similar vein, some key voices in the South-east called for a halt to violence and hostility in Anambra State. Former Minister of Aviation, Chief Osita Chidoka; Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe; and a law lecturer and activist, Dr. Sam Amadi, pleaded for peaceful conduct of the governorship election.
But the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) warned all broadcast stations covering the Anambra State governorship election to avoid languages and scenes likely to encourage, incite or compromise the unity or corporate existence of Nigeria.
Speaking at the Peace Accord signing ceremony held at the Professor Dora Akunyili Women Development Centre, Abdulsalamii urged the governorship hopefuls to abide by the letter and spirit of the peace pact, which they had agreed to. He told the candidates that the peace accord was a clarion call to them to commit to a peaceful election, adding that the pact became necessary following the history of electoral violence in the country.
Abdulsalamii stated, “In Nigeria, almost every election was accompanied by violence, ballot box snatching, vote buying, outright disruption of the process, and in some cases, the intimidation of ordinary citizens, who simply want to select a leader, who will govern them.
“We, the members of the National Peace Committee, have come to Anambra to support a peaceful electoral process. We cherish Anambra and we cherish the peace and unity of Nigeria. Most importantly, we want to contribute our own quota to see that the governorship election in Anambra is devoid of violence.
“Therefore, the signing of the peace accord today is not a mere exercise, it is, indeed, a clarion call for all the candidates and the political parties and all people of Anambra people to commit themselves to have peaceful process.
“We call on all the candidates, political parties and their supporters to accept the outcome of the poll as long as it is adjudged to be free, fair and credible. I have been assured by the chairman of INEC that all efforts are in place to ensure a free and fair election.
“All of us have the responsibility to deepen the cause of democracy in every part of Nigeria. We want every Nigerian to begin to enjoy the fruits of democracy. This can only happen, when there is peace and stability.”
The peace deal signing ceremony saw the candidates of all the political parties participating in tomorrow’s election, the INEC chairman, and NPC chairman, putting pen to paper and signing up to an agreement to ensure peace before, during, and after the November 6 governorship election.
The event, organised by Abdulsalamii and Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah to foster peace among politicians and their supporters, was attended by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Usman Baba, represented by Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police Joseph Egbunike, who hails from Anambra State.
Others at the ceremony were Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Anambra State; the leadership of all the political parties; and Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) Chairmen.
Those who signed the agreement included former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and candidate of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Professor Charles Soludo; Mr. Valentine Ozigbo of PDP; Senator Ifeanyi Ubah of Young Progressives Party (YPP); and Andy Uba of All Progressives Congress (APC).
All Set for Tomorrow, Says INEC
The INEC chairman said the commission had done all it should to make the electoral process smooth. Yakubu appealed for a violence-free poll.
He commended the National Peace Committee for always lending INEC a helping hand whenever it was faced with the challenge of insecurity.
Yakubu said, “Faced with the current situation in Anambra State, the commission once again appealed to the NPC to bring parties and candidates to commit to peace before, during and after the election. We believe that Anambra cannot be different from Edo and Ondo. For this reason, we are also confident that, just like Edo and Ondo, the election on Saturday will be peaceful and the outcome will reflect the will of the Anambra voters.
“INEC has done everything possible to ensure credible elections in Anambra State under very difficult circumstances. I would like to appeal to all parties, candidates and other actors to play their roles in support of the Peace Accord.
“Without peace, our deployment plans, innovations in voter accreditation and result management, safety of election duty personnel and accredited observers, security of election materials and, ultimately, the credibility of the polls will be undermined. That is why we must all support today’s Peace Accord and the work of the NPC, in general.
“Before I conclude, let me re-echo what the chairman of the NPC has just said. Those who signed the Peace Accord must abide by its letter and spirit in words and deeds.”
IPOB Suspends Stay-at-home Order
A statement yesterday, signed by IPOB’s Director of Publicity, Emma Powerful, said the group decided to call off its stay-at-home order following appeals by elders in the South-east, coupled with the grave economic implications of the movement restriction for the people.
The body urged the people of Anambra State to come out and vote in the governorship poll without intimidation or fear.
The statement said, “Following the genuine intervention of our elders, esteemed traditional institutions/rulers and religious leaders, and after due consideration of the positive impacts of their engagement, and sequel to the fact that our elders have spoken in our terms, the leadership of IPOB, ably led by Nnamdi Kanu, hereby and immediately calls off the one-week sit-at-home earlier declared to commence tomorrow, November 5, to November 10, 2021.
“We have equally considered several appeals by our mothers, who earn their living based on their daily economic activities, which will obviously be affected if the region is locked down for one whole week. It’s never our intention to add to the pains of our people, hence, our decision to suspend the sit-at-home.
“The people of Anambra State should go out en masse and peacefully exercise their franchise come 6th November 2021, and accordingly, choose a leader of their choice and should not be intimidated by anybody, group of persons or security agents.
“Anambrarians should vote and standby to protect their votes. No rigging of any kind will be tolerated on the Anambra State governorship election. It must be transparent, free and fair to all.
“We wish to thank IPOB members worldwide, friends of Biafra and lovers of freedom for their continued support for our dogged struggle for independence.
“May we, therefore, warn detractors, traitors and our enemies not to cause confusion by imputing motives to our decision. IPOB doesn’t expect anybody to observe, monitor or enforce the suspended order, otherwise, such action will be considered a rebellion to the highest leadership of our global movement.
“On the other hand, our oppressors should not take our decision as an act of cowardice. IPOB still believes that our elders, religious leaders, political leaders and various stakeholders will live up to their promises in their engagements and efforts towards securing the unconditional release of our leader.
“We, therefore, urge everyone to go about their lawful businesses without fear of any molestations. All agents of darkness recruited by our enemies to inflict pain on our people under the guise of enforcing the sit-at-home are hereby warned to steer clear or brace up for the consequences of their evil action.”
State PDP Chapter Reiterates Call for Kanu’s Release
PDP, in a statement by the publicity secretary of the party’s Publicity Committee for the Anambra election, Ken Okologbo, said, “President Yar’Adua used the stick and carrot approach to stem the issue of militancy in the South-south. This brought the present peace experienced in that region and greatly increased our revenue as a country.
“The APC government will rather continue to leave us in this terrible state of insecurity all over the country. We are fast turning into Afghanistan, as rightly described by Governors Okowa and Ortom.”
The statement said PDP ended its campaign at Uga, in Auguata Local Government Area of Anambra State. It alleged that the party was “mindful of the propaganda going on that money was used in mobilising the huge crowd that thronged Alex Ekwueme Square on Tuesday 2nd November 2021, where we had our official flag-off.
“Our opponents are intimidated by the overwhelming welcome Ndi Anambra have shown for our candidate Valentine Ozigbo and our party.”
The party called on INEC to go beyond the peace accord and ensure that incident forms were not used during the election.
PDP stated, “We have all been assured that the Bimodal system of accreditation will be applied. If the card reader fails to recognise your thumbprint then the facial features will also come into play. This was used in Isoko South by-election to the Delta State House of Assembly and we saw how successful it turned out to be.
“We are set to win this election and we urge Ndi Anambra to come out to vote for PDP. A vote for our party is a signal to what will be happening in Ekiti, Osun and eventually in 2023 to free us of the rudderless government of APC that has left us in this complete state of insecurity presently threatening the elections in the South-east.”
Chidoka, Abaribe, Amadi, Others Call for Peaceful Exercise
The plea for peace was the central point of a conversation initiated and anchored by Chidoka on practical ways to push through the agitation of the South-east people, particularly, within the context of the Anambra election.
The discussants, including Abaribe and Amadi, said call became imperative to prevent external forces, criminal elements and desperate politicians from hijacking the genuine agitation of the people and cashing in on the situation in the state to unleash violence and frame up innocent persons to justify state-backed brutality.
The trio urged the various groups agitating in the region to shame and disarm their traducers by asking Anambra people to come out and choose the leader that approximates the type of personality they would represent Ndi Igbo in their yearnings as a people.
The discussants believed, “The act of Ndi Anambra voting on Saturday is a major part of the affirmation of our self-determination as a people. If the people cannot decide who will govern them through an election, they are not close to determining their future through a democratic process. Denying the people the right to vote is a major denial of their rights to self-determination.
“When the people elect a leadership that represents their hopes and aspirations, they are in a position to pursue the people’s agenda more effectively. Whatever is the plan, it has to go through a political process. If you have governors and legislators, who share in the vision, it would be easier to realise such vision.”
Abaribe pointed out he would have languished in prison if he was not a senator and ready to meet the bail condition that required a senator to stand surety.
“You have to be in the game to score a goal,” Abaribe explained.
Amadi called for a more pragmatic strategy in the South-east, like the Catalonia approach of self-development and using the movement as a platform to achieve political control.
In his summary of the discussion, Chidoka restated the call for a peaceful election on Saturday and noted that the election was a significant part of the self-determination process of the people. He said the poll was an opportunity for the people to elect the leader that would best advance their agitation instead of allowing situations that give their traducers an upper hand to perpetrate violence and foist undesirable leadership on them.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment in Anambra State, Don Adinuba, raised the alarm over an alleged plot by some members of an unnamed political party to use the federal might to arrest key officials of Governor Willie Obiano’s administration.
In a statement, Adinuba said the desperate politicians wanted to use certain compromised security operatives to orchestrate the sinister plan. He added that the statement was designed to bring the evil plan of the people to the knowledge of Anambra people and also for the attention of all relevant authorities for prompt action.
IGP Restricts Movement
Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) announced a 24-hour restriction of movement in Anambra, beginning from today, Friday, at 11:59pm. Deputy Inspector General in charge of operations, Mr Zaki Ahmed, who is the leader of the operations, announced this to journalists while unveiling the activities of police operatives posted for the Anambra governorship election.
Ahmed said, “I assure you that the police will be professional in carrying out its duty throughout the election, and will maintain neutrality and a level playing ground for all the political parties.
“Adequate security is provided and you have seen the level of manpower in the state, and we are working in collaboration with other security agencies to ensure peace in the state. We are protecting everyone and ensuring that all parties will be protected equally.
“We have created intervention spots and they will respond to any distress call. This is a national assignment and we should work hand-in-hand to ensure peaceful election.
“The restriction of movement is for 24 hours and begins on Friday 11:59. All the hotels in Awka are very well covered and fully armed men are there. We have men on all the streets of Awka and we are well protected. We have cautioned our men over human rights abuses, and they are sure to behave themselves.”
South-east Marginalisation Responsible for Agitation
In a related development, the governorship candidates of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Mr Obinna Uzor, and Africa Democratic Congress (ADC), Mr Akachukwu Nwankwo, insisted that the marginalisation of the South-east in the distribution of national resources was the trigger for the agitation championed by IPOB.
Speaking on Arise News Channel, Nwankwo said the federal government should engage IPOB in order to resolve the insecurity in the region.
He said, “There should be a tactical, rational approach that enables us to have this conversation going. What IPOB is saying is that they want good governance. IPOB wants a relationship between the Igbo people and the federal government that makes every Igbo child feel that he is part of Nigeria. In the absence of that, they want to leave Nigeria. Theoretically, that’s what they are doing.”
Similarly, Uzor said the situation required a political solution. He said, “What they are saying is, recognise us, let us be part of Nigeria. The Igbo are the most patriotic tribe in Nigeria. What we are saying is, let us have a dialogue, let’s have a political solution.”
AA Candidate Optimistic of Free, Fair Poll Dutch
The governorship candidate of Action Alliance (AA), Mr. Ben Etiaba, said yesterday that he was confident that INEC would conduct a free and fair election tomorrow. Etiaba said he expected that the turnout might be low but expressed the readiness of his party’s followers to turn out en masse to cast their ballot.
He spoke on Arise News Channel, saying, “I have more faith in this election than I have ever had. INEC went out of their way as a body to educate the political parties, the masses, and the candidates on what to expect.
“They have come up with a system that if adopted and if implemented properly would give us a credible result. I have no reason to believe that the election wouldn’t be credible. I am not one of those, who believe the results have been written. I don’t believe that. I believe this election would be credible.”
On voter turnout and the fear of voter suppression, Etiaba noted that there was a valid concern of voters about their safety. But he remained optimistic of an average turnout.
He said, “In every election, voter turnout has been suppressed, but I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge the fact that there would be more voter apathy this time than we have always had. The number of people voting would be suppressed than before, because people are scared.
“But it is my belief that enough people would turn out to make the exercise very credible and whatever happens, there would be a result and I am looking forward to mobilising people to make sure people come out to vote for us and create an upset if we win.”
NBC Warns against Inciting Broadcast
The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) urged all broadcast stations covering tomorrow’s election in Anambra State to eschew broadcast language and scenes capable of stoking emotions and violence.
Director General of NBC, Balarabe Shehu Ilelah, issued the warning yesterday in a press statement.
Ilelah implored all broadcasters to desist from using or allowing their platforms and facilities to be used for the broadcast of contents that might lead to the breakdown of law and order. He asked all broadcasting stations to take note of the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcast Code and other relevant regulations guiding the broadcast of elections in the country.
Ilelah cited some of the provisions, including sections 3.11.1 (a), 3.11.1 (b), 5.41 (f), 5.3.3(j), 5.3.3 (i), 5.3.3 (k) and 5.3.4 that required broadcast stations to ensure that no programme contained anything tantamount to subversion of constituted authority.
Specifically, section 5.41 (f) provides, “Broadcast shall not transmit divisive materials that may threaten or compromise the indivisibility and indissolubility of Nigeria as a sovereign state,” he said.
NBC also warned broadcasters to end the broadcast of partisan political campaign, jingle and any form of partisan political party identification 24 hours before the election. It said broadcast stations should use any vote obtained at the polling station or from an exit poll to project or speculate on the chances of a candidate.
Ilelah said the relay of election results or declaration of a winner could only be done by the authorised electoral officer for the election. He warned that any broadcaster that breached any of the listed provisions of the code shall be severely sanctioned.
INEC: We’ll Ensure Only Eligible Voters Determine Next Anambra Governor
• Vows to prosecute election offenders
• IG issues stern warning, says heavy deployment to protect all
• IPAC demands fairness, transparency from commission, security operatives
• US threatens visa restriction on violence instigators
• Obaigbena thanks CDS, Police Chief, DG SSS for providing robust security during ARISE News debate
Chuks Okocha, Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja andDavid-Chyddy Eleke in Awka
As the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) moves both personnel and materials to Anambra State in readiness for the governorship election yesterday, INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmoud Yakubu, has said the commission would do everything in its powers to ensure only eligible voters determine the next governor of the South-east state. Yakubu stated this on Wednesday in Awka during a pre-election stakeholders meeting with the political parties, religious leaders, traditional rulers, and civil society groups.
But the commission was quick to add, “We are also determined to prosecute perpetrators of electoral malpractice, including any election duty staff found to be complicit. The choice of the next governor of Anambra State is in the hands of the eligible voters and their will must prevail.”
Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Usman Baba, issued a stern warning on the general conduct of people during the election. Baba said the police were determined to guarantee a peaceful election in the state. He explained that the heavy deployment of security personnel to the state was not to scare away voters, but to protect everyone.
Also yesterday, the Chairman of THISDAY/ARISE Media Group, Prince Nduka Obaigbena, thanked the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, and the Director General of the Department of State Security, DSS, Mr. Yusuf Magaji Bichi, for providing solid security during the ARISE News and Enough is Enough group jointly organised governorship debate in Awka, the Anambra state capital on Monday. He explained that other media houses pulled out of participating in the debate because of security concerns, “essentially, other media houses had pulled out of the debate; some wanted it done in Abuja, owing to security fears, but Arise News Channel refused, insisting that we can’t run away from any part of the country. The CDS assured of security and he lived up to his word.” Obaigbena urged the security forces to provide the same security so that voters will come to go and cast their vote for candidate of their choice and “we are urging them to extend same security for the election to encourage people to vote.”
Also reacting, Tthe Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), on its part, asked INEC and all the security personnel deployed for the governorship election to ensure the process was credible, fair, and transparent.
Accordingly, the United States warned that anyone, who interfered with the lawful conduct of the election or instigated violence, would face visa restrictions along with their families.
Yakubu, speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting, said some of the sensitive materials had been secured at the Anambra State branch of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in Awka.
The INEC chairman said as a usual practice on the eve of major elections, INEC would invite political parties, civil society organisations, and the media to the CBN on Thursday to inspect the sensitive materials and witness their movement to the various local government areas under security escort.
By the same arrangement, Yakubu said the materials would be delivered to the Registration Areas or Wards on Friday to facilitate the opening of Polling Units at 8.30am on Election Day.
He assured voters in the state that in designing the sensitive materials for the election, the commission had introduced additional visible and invisible security features, including different colour codes. He said election materials had also been customised according to local government areas and polling units, warning those who may attempt to compromise the process that INEC has put in place sufficient security features to detect counterfeits.
The INEC chairman stated, “On Saturday, 6th November 2021, Anambra State will make history as the first governorship election in Nigeria in which the commission will deploy the Biometric Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) device. This new device replaces the Smart Card Reader (SCR) used in previous elections since 2015.
“We are satisfied with the pilot deployment of the BVAS in the Isoko South I State Constituency bye-election in Delta State on 11th September 2021. The BVAS has the dual capacity for fingerprint and facial authentication of voters. This is to guard against voting by identity theft, where one person uses another person’s Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) to vote using the incident form.
“With this development, the use of the incident form is abolished. No voter without genuine PVC will vote. No voter, who has not been successfully accredited electronically, using the BVAS, will vote.
“At the same time, the BVAS is also equipped with a camera. Therefore, it has the capacity to snap Polling Unit level result and upload same to the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal, so that citizens can view results as election is concluded in each Polling Unit.
“Therefore, there is no need for the Z-Pad since its functions have been embedded in the BVAS. I am glad to report that all the BVAS required for the election on Saturday have been configured and delivered to Anambra State. Election duty staff have also been trained on the use of the device and we have sufficient technical staff to respond to any glitches that may occur.”
Yakubu acknowledged concerns expressed about the availability of PVCs for new registrants in the state.
He said, “At the end of the recent Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise, a total of 138,802 citizens completed the registration. After cleaning up the data, the commission identified and archived 62,698 multiple registrants. Consequently, the number of valid registrants is 76,104.
“This figure has been added to 5,674 requests for transfer, update of voter information and replacement of lost or damaged PVCs, bringing the total of valid registrations to 81,774. I am glad to report that the PVCs have been printed and delivered to all the local government areas for collection by voters.
“We have also contacted the voters by text messages and email addresses and informed them of the exact locations to collect their cards. Through the media, we have also been sensitising them to the availability of the cards for collection. Many of them have done so already. Let me, therefore, once again appeal to those that have not done so that their cards are available for collection.”
On the issue of voters’ distribution by polling units, Yakubu stated, “About four weeks ago, the commission published the register of voters for the election on 7th October 2021 i.e. 30 days to the election as required by law. Each of the 18 political parties was given a soft copy of the register here in Awka. In addition to meeting, the requirement of the law, the presentation of the register is significant for another reason.
“The Anambra governorship election is the first time that voting is taking place in polling units since the recent successful conversion of voting points arising from the expansion of voter access to polling units in Nigeria.
“An additional 1,112 polling units were established in Anambra State in addition to the existing 4,608 locations. This brings the total number of polling units in the state to 5,720. Voters were encouraged to seize the opportunity of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise to transfer to the new polling units most convenient for them. Many did not do so.
“This can be partly attributed to the security situation in the state, which has affected the commission’s pre-election outdoor activities, including voter education and sensitisation. Understandably, the voters have also been cautious.”
Yakubu explained that out of the 5,720 polling units in the state, 86 (1.5%) had no voters. He said the commission would not deploy personnel and materials to these polling units. “Furthermore, 894 (15.6%) of the polling units have between one and 49 voters. Election will hold in these polling units. We will continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure that all Polling Units have voters allotted to them ahead of the 2023 general election,” he said.
IG Issues Stern Warning, Says Deployment Not to Scare Anyone
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Usman Baba, yesterday, read the riot act to troublemakers ahead of the Anambra State governorship election. Baba said at a meeting with political parties, religious leaders, and traditional rulers that the police were determined to ensure a peaceful election.
However, he allayed fears and concerns about the heavy security deployment in the state, saying it is not meant to scare away voters, but to reassure them of their security and safety.
The IGP said, “It is to be additionally emphasised that aside these sets of guidelines, which fall under the provisions of the Electoral Act, any person that violates any components of the criminal laws, including being in possession of weapons of violence of any description, either on the streets or around the polling units, engages in any violent act, attacks critical national assets, engages in corrupt inducement of the electorate, or threatens public peace in any manner before, during and after the election, shall be apprehended and dealt with in accordance with the requisite criminal law.
“I, therefore, call on all the political parties to embrace the virtues of democracy by seeing elections as a call to service by the people and not ‘a-do or die’ affair.”
Baba implored parents and guardians to discourage their children and wards from being used to foment trouble or subvert the election process, warning, “Such will be forcefully resisted by the Nigeria Police, the military and other security agencies.”
The IGP said residents and voters should be guided by the following rules, as contained in the Electoral Act, on the election day.
According to him, “No one is allowed to wear any cloth, emblem or colour signifying any political party to the polling units.
“No person is allowed to move around with security details around the polling units. Indeed, appropriate directives have been given for the withdrawal or scaling down of such security details around politically exposed persons and other personalities in the state until after the elections.
“Everyone is enjoined to vote and return to their respective houses or remain peacefully within approved perimeters of the polling centres. No one is allowed to move about from one polling unit to another, as there shall be restriction of movements on the day of the election.
“Only INEC accredited Election Monitors/observers are allowed to move around for the purpose of election monitoring and they must all wear their INEC accreditation tags. Only accredited journalists are allowed to cover the election. All such journalists must carry their accreditation tags.”
He explained that the massive deployment of security was “not designed to intimidate the law-abiding, as being insinuated in some quarters. In the contrary, it is to re-assure them of adequate protection by deterring misguided political elements as well as non-state actors that might be bent on threatening the elections through acts of armed violence or other conducts that violate the provisions of the Electoral Act.
“It is to also serve as a strong warning that the government is determined to bring such subversive characters to justice should they advance their ignoble, undemocratic and unpatriotic intents. The overriding objective of our operational action plan is to ensure an environment that is peaceful enough to encourage the law-abiding people of Anambra State to exercise their electoral franchise.
IPAC Demands Fairness, Transparency from INEC, Security Agencies
Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and all the security personnel deployed for the election in Anambra State to ensure a credible, fair and transparent electoral process. It urged the youth in the state to eschew violence and “shun political buccaneers masquerading as democrats, whose stock in trade is to use them for electoral thuggery, ballot snatching and rigging to thwart the people’s mandate”.
IPAC said it had received assurances from relevant quarters that the result of the election would be transmitted electronically.
Addressing journalists on Wednesday in Abuja, National Chairman of IPAC, Mr. Leonard Nzenwa, who is also National Chairman, African Action Congress (AAC), said it was important for INEC and the security agencies to commit to fairness and transparency during the election, and not compromise their integrity.
Nzenwa stated, “INEC should provide a level playing field to all political parties and their candidates participating in the election and ensure electoral materials are provided, and that voting starts as scheduled in all polling units in the state.
“The neutrality of INEC in this election will determine the survival of democracy in Nigeria. All eyes are on the commission and its officials as they discharge this onerous civic responsibility. Security agents should also discharge their duties professionally and ensure adequate protection of lives and property during the exercise.”
US Threatens Visa Restriction on Violence Instigators
The United States warned that visa restrictions would be imposed anyone who interfered with the lawful conduct of the Anambra election or instigated violence. A statement on Wednesday from the US Embassy said the American government looked forward to a peaceful and transparent governorship election whose results would accurately reflect the will of the people of the state.
The statement said, “We will be paying close attention to actions of individuals, who interfere with the democratic process or instigate violence against civilian populations before, during, or after the elections.
“We will not hesitate to consider consequences, including visa restrictions, for those found to be responsible for election-related violence or undermining the democratic process.”
The statement further explained, “Under US immigration law, certain violations also may lead to restrictions on family members.”
It called on citizens, electoral officials, party members, and security force personnel to do their part in ensuring a credible and secure electoral process.
Maduka: Governing Anambra State Will Be a Walk in the Park
Dr. Godwin Maduka, Anambra governorship candidate of Accord tells Nseobong Okon-Ekong why he is sure of victory in the November 6 election
This particular governorship election Anambra has become unusual with candidates moving out of the state to campaign to Anambrarians outside Anambra. What does that mean, because you are not speaking to the people who are in the state, you are speaking to Anambrarians outside
We have to do what we have to do to get our message across. This makes it so hard to campaign . The only unfortunate thing is that it might affect the election itself. I know that I have more than what it takes to be the governor. All efforts have to be made by me to make sure I sell myself to Ndi Anambra. The other people have nothing to lose. They are gamblers. They have come in to see if by some method they can win. I am not a gambler in politics. I need a platform like that to continue what I have done in the past and in my town to the rest of Ndi Anambra . It makes it a little bit difficult.
However, prior to the serious insecurity, people of Anambra had received all of us, going around the state to sell our agenda, campaigning to them. So, if you have not reached most of the people at the grassroots by now, then you are not supposed to be running for the governor, anyway. We had a lot of time to talk to the voters. I think the serious insecurity started two days after I finished my ward round .
INEC has said there won’t be voting in over 80 Polling Units. I want your reaction to that
If there are no voters, there shouldn’t be any voting over there. That is INEC showing that they mean business. Every politician is asking me, ‘have you talked to INEC’?’ Why should we talk to INEC? If INEC means business and they are independent, they will make sure that nobody tampers with that result and the best man will be the governor. I will actually give them kudos for doing that, otherwise it will get to the hands of political opponents who will put some ghost voters there.
How are you taking the issue of your running mate, your deputy going to another party?
He is still my deputy. The Electoral Act is clear about that. He knows the law. As far as I concerned he is still with me, legally bound. He can’t get the membership card of any political party until after November 6. If he wanted to leave, he should have left a long time ago to allow a substitution. I am not worried about that. My candidature is intact. I have been cleared to run. Even I can’t say I am not running anymore. There is nothing that can stop him from winning the election with me. He can’t decamp to another party until after November 6. I have been researching this. If I win, he wins. He can decide to resign after that and we get somebody else. Human beings are who they are. He can’t do any harm to the governor. He can’t do any harm to the candidature. I am the principal. After we are sworn in, I make the decisions. I will try to give him work to do as my deputy, eventhough he has shown now that he can’t be trusted . If he still insists on decamping, the law is clear on that. Until November 6, he is in Accord, nobody can legally give him the membership card of any other political party now, because it is a joint ticket and both of us were cleared.
What impression did you come away with as you went around on tour of wards?
It proved to me that I made the right decision to leave the comfort of my surroundings in the United States of America to come to Africa to run for governor. I was able to validate my reasons for running for governor. I saw so much hardship, hunger and poor standard of living. This gave me the resolve to continue the governorship race, which I believe I am going to win, unless there are no persons with common sense in Anambra and I know that the people have common sense. You see what I have done. I have singlehandedly built a town like a state. Now I want to build a state to look like a country. It is not saying, I can do this and that, show me what you have done. From what you have done, that will tell us what you are going to do. Governing Anambra State will be a walk in the park. Fifty percent of the funds I need will come from foreign investment.
How are you going to assure your supporters of their safety when they come to vote and to standby their vote?
That is what I am doing now. I have my people all the ward chairmen, who will be going from house-to-house in their ward, telling folks we are making sure it will be fine. The best thing is that they will be voting in the confines of their own environment where they know everybody. Anybody else you see outside, then you have to raise the alarm. I call on vigilante groups to make sure that they are watching everybody who comes in and out. There might be sporadic shooting here and there, but it is not going to stop the election. The people who are illegitimate want to have this kind of shooting so that they can rig the election . But Anambra State can’t reject her son who is a world class in Medicine, a business guru, a philanthropist of the millennium, a peoples man and go for a riff-raff, by whatever description. I have this confidence that I will win.
Some of your supporters have expressed concern that the security agencies may be supporting the candidate of the APC. Do you share this concern?
I will support the APC of they had the right candidate. APC is not a bad party, but with somebody like Andy Ubah who has no educational qualification, did not emerge from a fair primary and carries a lot of baggage, I have no respect for them. To make it worse, they never conducted a primary, but now you are heading into the general election. APC would have had a chance had it not been for the involvement of Andy in the whole thing. With Andy Ubah as their flag bearer, they have no chance. He can buy all the councillors, all the state assembly men , all members of the House of Representatives, but can these people go back to their wards?