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Why demean big feats with few negatives?

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THE year 2021 was a known factor to Ndi-Anambra- a year of election in the state. Expectedly, political discourses, nuances and theatrics took centre stage from the starting point of the year’s span and every modicum of activity had an infectious political colouration advertently or inadvantently.

  With 2021 inheriting pessimisms borne out of last year’s COVID-19 pandemic scare, uncertainty became an obvious factor. The curiosity that dominated many minds and often spewed from even unwilling lips remained,  “will the guber election hold in the state? Pessimists were not too convinced of the goal being realiseable, while optimist saw no other inhibitions to that than the election itself. Not even the well spelt- out election time table released by the Independent National Electoral Commission  (INEC) to guide every stage of the exercise was convincing enough to the nay sayers.

S  urprisingly, the first big step came -party primary elections. Like the Biblical ‘Parable of The Ten Virgins’, those who were prepared went into the exercise and conducted it within the bounds of electoral rules and regulations, while those who had no faith in the system but wanted to leverage on any slip in the process, came to party with different game plan. On June 26, 2021, being the scheduled day for all Progressives Congress (APC) party primary election, electorate converged at different centres but found no provision in real term made for the exercise. Slowly, time wore on and the day went by without sign of election in virtually all known wards and centres. Surprisingly, result for the party’s primary election was announced by Dapo Balogun from Ogun State with Andy Ubah emerging the winner with 230,201 votes to his credit in an imaginary exercise.

  The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on its part had much to battle against. While Valentine Ozigbo was said to have won the party’s indirect primary election conducted on June 26, his name got clearly omitted from Independence National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s list of candidates to vie for the Agu-Awka House on November 6, following a motion filed by Ugochukwu Ubah, challenging Ozigbo’s victory. It was not until September 3, 2021, when Court of Appeal in Abuja, presided by Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem validated his emergence as PDP candidate in the November 6 guber election.

  The ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) party was not spared from this intrigue as it was ravaged by defection scourge. Some key players for personal reasons withdrew their loyalty to add alliance with the party and headed for alternative party. The APC, which seemed to have the backing of the federal power in a presumed scheme to wrestle power away from APGA was the biggest beneficiary of this political gerrymandering. At that point, the powers of the electorate in a democratic setting mattered little to those whose ideology centered on either by the hook or crook means in swinging election results to their favour. APGA was left to pick itself up from the tatters. This was compounded by frivolous litigations amongst which was the infamous Jigawa High Court ruling presided by Justice Ubale from Birnin Kudu, which set aside recognition of Victor Oye led APGA primary in his capacity as national chairman and Chukwuma Soludo’s emergence as the party’s candidate for the November 6 guber poll.

   What would not be easily forgotten in the play-out of Anambra guber poll of November 6, was intriguing court pronouncements and how some judicial officers played into the hands of politicians. Some ludicrous reliefs were sought by desperate politicians at the court, either to truncate the entire process or be allowed their way in subverting democratic process. As a result, frivolous and bizarre judgements were in some cases obtained by their promoters, such as the Jigawa and Imo State High Court’s ruling against Victor Oye’s faction of the APGA.

  INEC on its part pushed the electorate to the limits with sketchy information developments, though, never wavering in their assurances that they were on top of the game and would use Anambra election as template for the 2023 general elections. With plans for the election getting to appreciable level, the leader of proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPoB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s factor came on board. Irked by his arrest and detention by the federal government, his followers swore not to see the election hold until he is released. Life became nightmarish as security situation became horrible in Anambra even when Kanu is not from the state. Spate of killings spiked at worrisome level at the time and only the brave dared talk in loud voice publicly.

  Despite these drawbacks, the election held and against all odds, it turned out one of the most credible polls in the history of the state. Citizens were able to express their franchise and their votes counted in the determination of the winner. Though INEC’s Bimodal Verification and Accreditation System machine performed abysmally, the patience and restraint electorate exhibited is worth commending. This made smooth conduct of the exercise achievable.

   In the end, Professor Chukwuka Charles Soludo won the election fairly and squarely. Aside from APC candidate in the election, Mr Andy Ubah, other contestants immediately conceded defeat and congratulated the winner. Arguably, the understanding that saving the soul of a state over self-serving interests had never been so manifest, yet Anambra showed that individual differences can be pooled together to achieve collective victory.

  No doubt,  Anambra 2021 political outing offers good school for update in political behavior and culture, the question is,  can the system leverage on the offer and make 2022 general elections better?

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