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Anambra politics: Averting tempest

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IN ALL the 36 states across the federation, only in Anambra State will citizens file-out at polling centres on November 6, 2021 for gubernatorial election, while the rest 35 states either watch or render support from the sideline.

November 6, 2021 remains only 100 days but significant enough to shape expectations from any administration keen on giving citizens concrete premiums to hold-on, while looking forward to more achievements  from their elected government.

Expectedly, actors in this big game are putting their acts together, to ensure the best of outing and beat other contenders in taking home the title. What would have been a moment to look forward to by both the electorate, political parties  and their candidates as well as the electoral umpire- Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), are stuck in conundrum of sorts; thus, casting doubts of possible election that can stand-out as a model in contemporary democracy come November 6.

Given the monumental democracy dividends APGA government has delivered to the state, ndi Anambra expect nothing less than improvement on achieved goals and their concerns over who succeeds the present Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, who has done remarkably well is understandable. But the current electoral horizon sends conflicting signals, especially to the electorate. The fact that with 100 days left for the election and the electorate are yet to know as a matter-of –certainty, the candidates lined up by political parties for the poll naturally raises cause for concern as better choice can only be enhanced with sufficient time to dissect the qualities of the candidates who may likely get their (electorate’s­­) votes at the poll is given. The shadows of brigandism the state suffered in 2006 when a seating Governor, Chris Ngige was abducted and labyrinths of judicial twists that halted Chris Ngige’s stint in office as governor of Anambra State on  March 15, 2006, as well as sacking of Andy Ubah  as governor of the state after 14 days in the office in 2007 all create trepidation  and hunt the memories of ndi Anambra, thereby, making them more circumspect in electoral decisions.

While the electorate are gearing for the task of keeping the state on progressive path with a possible good choice of candidate to succeed Obiano – a feat that can only come through fair and credible election;  political parties, judiciary and INEC seem to be at variant points with discordant tunes too complicated for the electorate to comprehend.

In the coming guberelection in Anambra, INEC has made it clear that 18 political parties passed the hurdle of nomination of candidates to vie for the highest political office in the state. INEC went further to publish the names of those it has in its list as possible contestants in the November 6 poll. Contained in the list of the  electoral umpire are; Azubuike Echelabu of the APP, Ifeanyi Uba of the YPP, Leonard Ohajinkpo of NNPP, Sylvester Chukwudozie, AAC,  Chukwuma  Eze, APM,  Jerny Okeke, BP, Maduka-Arisa, AA, Douglas Umezoeke, ACP, Andy Ubah, APC, Akachukwu Nwankpo, ADC, Chukwuma Umeoji, APGA,  Uchenna Ugwuoji ZLP, Nnamdi Nwawuo PRP, Emmanuel Agbasimalo, LP. The names of Valentine Ozigbo of the PDP and Chukwuma Soludo of the APGA made the INEC list through court order.

For INEC to publish the initial list conspicuously missing the name of Charles Soludo after APGA successfully held its primary and had him (Soludo) elected and declared winner of the party’s ticket under the supervision of INEC surprised many. But Umeoji’s name made it in the INEC list for APGA candidacy on the basis of court order mandating the recognition of Jude Okeke leadership of the party as its National Chairman, replacing Edozie Njoku through  a congress held in Owerri in 2019, which produced Umeoji as the party’s candidate for the November poll.

However, Victor Oye- led National Working Committee of APGA sees such claim as not only bogus but ridiculous. Oye has stated at different counts that  the NWC remains the authentic body to interface with INEC on behalf of APGA, including conducting the primary election. Oye premised his position on court rulings following over 15 litigations involving the party at different courts.

As such, the Oye-led NWC approached the court in Awka (High Court) and a judgement was given in their favour to have Soludo’s name included in INEC list as APGA’s standard bearer.

What is not clear here yet is the jurisdiction  of the Jigawa High Court ruling recognising Okeke as APGA National Chairman through which Umeoji emerged as the party’s candidate.

Even as the confusion lasts, the question , who amongst the two party’s candidates APGA faithful should  prefer to support wholesomely remains uncertain. Is the development not opening a floodgate of litigations even after the election in Novermber? Is the current impasse not avoidable, are questions begging for answers.

While those obvious questions are pondered, political parties involved should do better by putting their houses in order. If elections at primary level will generate irreconcilable malfeasance and disputation, what will happen at the general poll after it may have been won and lost?

INEC on its part should help the situation and pre-empt these occurrences. It may be argued that they are compelled by the court in some of the decisions they have taken but the extant electoral laws provide for independence of the body and its standpoints on issues should not be mired in controversies.

APGA  is not alone in this call for sanity and decorum in their affairs, but the call goes to all the major parties contesting for the November 6 election. The Peoples Democratic Party could not produce an acceptable candidate to fly the party’s flag as at the time INEC published its list of candidates for the election.

In fact, it took the Anambra State High Court order for the name of Ugochukwu Uba to be included in the list of INEC as PDP candidate for the election. This came after Valentine Ozoigbo had been announced by INEC as PDP’s the candidate. How  the party intends to survive litigations fielding two candidates at the poll could trigger is unclear to electorate, but the judiciary seems unfazed.

Even if it  is to be used as a political strategy by parties to win elections through the poll or the court, the judiciary must rise to the occasion of defending the sensibilities of the electorate to ensure that their mandate is upheld and not twisted.

Anambra cannot afford to toe the path of political infamy with charlatans gaining from unexpected electoral fallouts that had thrusted-up persons who never came as runners-up in an election to eventually benefit from electoral confusion and rule the state. The Imo State drama of Emeka Ihedioha and Hope Uzodimma is a good example of bad politics that ruffles electorate’s understanding of decent electoral process.

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