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Ndi Anambra, go cast your votes

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…Time to show the real Anambra spirit

THE common concern one hears whenever discussion of the November 6, 2021 gubernatorial election in Anambra State comes up is: “will the election hold?”

To that, I always reply: “Yes. Why not?”

  The scenario mainly painted is that of a land mired in violence, crime and disorder; where vagabonds and vandals have besieged and populated every street and clan wielding guns, not just cudgels, to stop anybody from stepping out of his or her doorstep to a polling station.

 Harried and worried persons pose the question with a mindset that betrays their bias towards fear and unexamined intent to escape from their vital civic responsibility of voting for their own government. You look at the face of most posers of the “will the election hold” quiz, and you behold someone shying away from playing an active role in the governance and functional citizenship of his or her state yet expecting a land that would yield goodies.

  Indeed, there are many startled persons, male and female, in Anambra State currently, ahead the polls. Even outside the state, there are many people “afraid for Anambra State” from within Nigeria and in the Nigerian Diaspora. All these spew danger alerts, frenzied cautions to friends and relations, some even issue marching orders to their close ones to stay away from anything that has to do with the election.

  Challenge them on facts to buttress their tension, they would give you a deluge of excuses bordering on what they would cite as a plethora of “unknown gunmen” attacks, arson and orchestrated vandalism across the state within a couple of months to the election.

  Engage them more, they would cite many audio or written messages on social media (mostly in WhatsApp and Facebook), urging against participation in the election.

  Further discussion of the issues raised, would make it evident to you that the election skeptics are mostly, if not always, acting on hearsay not what they witnessed or had actionable information on. Such chats are often marked by trepidation and mouth-agape comments prefixed with: “did you hear that…”; “didn’t you read that…”; “they said that…”, among other such reference to rumours and non-fact-checked posts that were deliberately planted to spread in social media. The ones, so frightened to develop cold feet to the election, seldom ask themselves whether the developments really happened or whether they happened the way they were reported. They fail why the events were almost all, magnified with sensational captions or headlines and made to go viral.

  Then ask the fellow who has developed apathy for the election what he thinks will be the consequence of he and others not going out to vote and ensure that their mandate is recognised on November 6, you could hear unstable rhetorics, ranging from the excuse that his vote would not count because “they (whoever the “they” refers to) already know who will win” to a dismissive “I am not a politician” or “why should I kill myself for politicians who do not know whether I exist?”

  Where he failed to adduce a lot of escapist excuses, he would tell you forcefully: “If you like go and kill yourself for nothing!”

Case, closed.

  Indeed, there are many closed minds on the November 6 election matter. Even when they are convinced that their stance on the matter is very flawed, jejune and trite, they maintain their position. Some use the rise in violence as alibi for their disdain of government and major political parties. Such persons spend a lot of time in public places “speaking daggers” about leading figures in government and Anambra politics. They labour hard in toil and sweat to deter people from participating in the election, citing all manner of trivia to discredit the state and make their audience believe that going out to vote is doing government a big favour.

  But the truth is that neither the government nor politicians would reap any special favour from anyone’s participation in the election. Rather the citizen loses by opting out of the exercise.

  Whoever fails to foresee how he loses by not showing up to vote on November 6 may be pardoned for being short-sighted but in reality, he is suffering from naivety because if there is no voter to elect the 18 candidates the man who comes closest to getting a larger number of votes, will become the next governor, irrespective of what citizens say or feel.

  In democracy, people are key in governance, development and the momentum of society. But it is not just people that matter, the larger the number, the better. Everything about elections is hinged on higher number of people. Same role does the number of people do in almost every decision made democratically which is basically, a government of the people, by the people, for the people. Hence, when the people factor is taken away from a democracy, it is no longer democracy.

  The other factors are credibility and relevance. For now that the crust of discourse is the populace turning up for the November 6  election, the absence of voters in polling stations would ebb away big chips from the credibility and integrity of the election but in a longer run, such absence would haunt the people and the land more as they would lose their relevance and claim of ownership of the government of whichever candidate that would win. Should Anambra people stay away from the polls, whoever gets the diadem may ride the land like a proud, deaf and indifferent Czar who just conquered a quiet land full of prized spoils.

  Worthy of note here, is that it has never been in the Anambra’s person’s character to be aloof or pretend to be unconcerned when things go topsy-turvy in their land. From the great Nnamdi Azikiwe who deployed his brain and means to secure Nigeria’s independence with other political activists across the country and continent to the people’s hero Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Chinua Achebe, Mokwugo Okoye, Sir Louis Ojukwu, Jerome Udoji, Oluodah Equanor, among others, the state is marked by heroes and heroines of local, national and international acclaim.

Never had they been known for cowardice.

  This is equally the land of late 1970s to early 1980s “Boys Oye!” of Onitsha markets.

  In wisdom and enterprise, the Anambra person in a rare breed, envied for his ingenuity and brave innovations.

  Therefore, it is unimaginable that suddenly, the Anambra person, one of the most daring human persons to be found anywhere, how turned lamb and timid because there is an election in November 2021.

  However, given that it is often the errors of the wise man that make the fool rule, it is worth noting that some times somebody may out of deliberate indulgence in otherwise harmless rough  play veer too far into the domain of fools that before he gets out of it things had spoilt beyond repair.

  Time and again,  in the past 30 years of her existence, events have been challenging and tough for Anambra but by dint of a rare persistent quest for better turn of things,  the three-decade-old state has prevailed over her demons.

  History and peculiar  characteristics therefore give one hope that Anambra people will not succumb to the intimidations and deceptions of the current build-up to the November 6 election, no matter who or which authority has scripted the saga.

  Anambra people have only to borrow a leaf from their  neighbours, the Edo people.

   Ahead the last gubernatorial election in Edo, there was violence, a plenty amid heavy stench of blood on the streets, all over the state, killers, kidnappers, bullies and all manner of rumour bearers as well as droppers of names from high places in Abuja and Lagos. The atmosphere of fear and imminence of death in the state’s capital, Benin and environs were as heavy as in a ghost town.   Threats of conquest and subjugation of the state by the huge Goliaths of Nigerian politics in Lagos were high.

  On September 19, 2020, the people of Edo State proved to their adversary that “Edo no be Lagos”. They emerged en masse at polling units and cast their votes for the candidate of their choice. They had their say. Gov. Godwin Obaseki, the man the Edo populace wanted and voted for, was returned to the Government House, Benin.

  The main factor there was the people’s participation. Had the Edo people stayed at home, the election would not have held or if it happened in haphazard manner, Obaseki might not have won.

  Anambra people must go out and vote on Saturday, November 6. The major goal of the vendors of the current orgy of violence is to frighten the populace and scare them away from voting centres.

Anambra people should go and vote.

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