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APGA won on Obiano’s achievements, Soludo’s credentials

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Obi Oguejiofor’s angry protest of the APGA’s resounding victory in the November 6, 2021, Anambra State governorship election was long expected. The only surprise about his grudges conveyed in: “Vote – buying in Anambra Governorship Election” (Daily Sun, February 8, 2022) was that it did not come the next minute following declaration of APGA’s victory.

  It may well be the case that in the intervening period the writer agonised between accepting the clear verdict of the people and holding on to his jaundiced opposition to the APGA – Obiano government. If he admitted the widely acknowledged merits of APGA’s renewed mandate, would that not self – discredit the earlier demarketing of the APGA – Obiano governorship? Surely, it takes uncommon humility to admit wrong judgment, to respect democratic will in conflict with our desire.

   Notwithstanding the facade of a broad criticism of our electoral environment in which the article is deceptively clothed, the writer’s plot to diminish the APGA – Soludo mandate is obvious. Consistent with this agenda, treatment of the subject matter switches from detachment on peripheral, general areas to judgmental outbursts on arguments involving APGA, Obiano and Soludo. 

   In the prelude to the governorship election, Oguejifor was engrossed in a futile campaign against the zoning principle in determining Willie Obiano’s successor. The APGA, the foremost political party in the southeast in a regime of free and fair elections, had since 2010, consistently flown the flag of rotating the governorship in Anambra State among the three senatorial zones.

Consequently, Oguejifor was simply trying to derail APGA from the governorship contest with his activism against zoning the ticket to Anambra South Senatorial District. With Anambra’s great human capital, first class governorship materials can be found in each of the 21 local government areas of the state.  Consequently, the writer’s position that zoning would be at the expense of merit was rather insensitive to public sensibility. Where is the critic’s sense of equity?

   In the attempt to devalue the APGA’s triumph, the writer declared: “Vote – buying, in fact, enabled the turnout to reach 10 per cent, since many ‘hungry’ voters came out to take advantage of the ‘chicken change’ doled out at the polling booths.” The porosity of the above claim is laid bare when the matter is put in perspective. Voter turnout for Anambra State 2010 governorship poll was 16 per cent of registered voters.

The 2013 governorship election recorded 25 per cent voter participation. For the 2017 governorship poll, it was 22 per cent.  Given the precedents, a situation of high voter inducement, as alleged, would have resulted not in 10 per cent but in significantly higher voter turnout.

The argument   that vote-buying triggered increased voter turnout when voter turnout actually reduced from an average of 21 to 10 per cent is ridiculous. This is another pointer to the stuff of the referenced’petition.’

   But because there is a specific target to be nailed, the rubbishing attempt continues: ‘As for the impact of vote – buying on the outcome of the election, it must be said that given its spread and high sums expended for votes, it was perhaps the most potent factor that determined the outcome of the election.’ And finally, the long – readying killer punch. If other electoral variables had prevailed, the writer pontificates, ‘it would be near impossible for APGA to win.’

   While this dissembling pattern of analysis may seem to help the detractor push his preconceived position, at the same time, it demonstrates how deeply he chose to live in denial. We see a deliberate refusal to reckon with APGA’s 16-year dominance in the state; the impact of Obiano’s administration in every community through the N40m community development projects, schools, primary healthcare and public utilities; contributions of party stalwarts and stakeholders in their various localities.

To cite an instance of APGA’s superior strategy in the elections, we recall how APGA won the rescheduled voting in Ihiala Local Government Area. On the eve of the poll, governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress, Nze Akachukwu Nwamkpo, issued a statement titled: “I Will Vote APGA Tomorrow.” Nwamkpo stated: “I have studied the trend of this election and seen clearly that the people of Anambra State want Professor Charles Soludo to lead a deep – seated effort to reform and rebuild our state.

 I add my voice in calling the people of Ihiala Local Government to rise up and resoundingly end this election by massively voting for Soludo.” There were countless replications of such solidarity arising from goodwill of the APGA government and her candidate.

  In search of rationalisation for  the inverted logic of APGA’s potential loss, Oguejifor stresses that “before the election, APGA was in a complete shambles with three factions at a point.” Did these “factions” with their combined strength gather up to one per cent of the APGA membership? Why have these celebrated “factions” died with ignominy as suddenly as they were contrived into existence?

 And as even casual students of Nigerian politics know, APGA’s presumed problem of factions pales into nothingness compared with the crises rocking other parties that also contested the election. If the APGA was disadvantaged by emergency factions within its fold, how could the other contending parties, torn apart by perennial division and instability, been in stead to win?

  Still living in denial, Oguejifor contends that the “APGA government led by Governor Willie Obiano cannot speak of serious positive records.” The acerbic writer goes on to ridicule the Awka International Conference Centre and Umueri Airport, describing the latter as a “veritable landing strip in the name of an international airport.”

  In truth, you can take a horse to the stream but you cannot force it to drink. The problem of mindset can only be resolved if the individual accepts to walk free of the conditionings that impinge on the thought. For all the spiritual and physical miracles Christ wrought, the Jews who would not believe him disregarded his works. It’s therefore not altogether strange that the achievements of Obiano, Anambra’s greatest governor yet,  could be so whimsically disparaged.

  All over the world, the two foremost indices for measuring the performance of a government are security and the economy. Discounting the politically motivated and separatist agitation – related violence, it’s on record that Obiano’s administration made Anambra one of the three safest states in Nigeria. Chief Cosmas Maduka speaks on the establishment of his multi billion naira industry.

“I waited patiently through the years when armed robbery, kidnapping and other criminalities were rife in the state. Willie Obiano became the governor and declared war on criminals and drove them away. Anambra then became a safe, stable and enabling environment for business and investment.

It’s also on record that Anambra State won the 2018 national award for best state – supporting MSMEs. National Bureau of Statistics report of 2020 named Anambra as the state with least unemployment rate of 13 per cent. Anambra under Obiano is among the states with least poverty and debt profiles. Anambra State has enjoyed unprecedented industrial peace under Obiano, with the words “strike action” almost unheard of.

   Oguejifor’s refusal to acknowledge these and other accomplishments of the APGA government is of little effect. Downplaying the magnificent airport and convention centre built by the administration to suit preconceived prejudices does not change the standard grade of the facilities. However, ignoring the expert ratings and approvals of professionals such as Air Peace’s Chief Executive, Allen Onyema to insist on one’s own biases, smacks of uncharitable spirit. 

  The people expressed appreciation of the government’s achievements by returning APGA in the last governorship election. They were assured in the wisdom of their choice not only by the accrued benefits from the exiting administration but also by the succession of the best candidate in the election. With Professor Chukwuma Soludo set to expand on Obiano’s legacies, it has never been so good for the people of Anambra State.

Afuba is Special Assistant, Media, to the Governor of Anambra State.

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