Obi: Anambra LG polls and the breaking of Another Jinx

Governor Peter Obi

Governor Peter Obi

BY David-Chyddy Eleke, AwkaA mention will surely be made of the name of Mr Peter Obi, Governor of Anambra State when the history of Nigeria would be written, but when the history of Anambra State is written, a large chunk of the work will surely be dedicated to writing about him. This is because Obi has succeeded in writing his name in gold as far as the state is concerned by breaking jinx that were not only associated with Anambra State but were also associated with the entire Nigeria.

He started his date with history in 2003 when he joined the 2003 governorship election with posters pasted everywhere in the state asking a rhetoric question, “are we the cursed or are we cause?” He latter answered the question with his action when he became the governor. Though he was rigged out of the race, his persistence paid off after several years of being in court with his opponent. The mere fact that he was able to unseat a sitting governor, a feat that has never been achieved in Nigeria was enough to make Obi’s name reverberate throughout the country.

In 2006 shortly after he was installed as governor, Obi suffered an impeachment but was able to return, achieving yet another feat as no governor in the history of Nigeria has been able to return from an impeachment before. The tenure interpretation brouhaha which led to the sacking of the 17-day-governor, Dr Andy Uba and reinstallation of Obi is also one of those feats that stand Obi out. Several others abound, including his stabilization of Anambra’s turbulent polity, but last Saturday the indomitable Obi achieved another with the successful conduct of the local government election.

Anambra has a chequered history of local government election conduct, and this dates back to 1998 when the last elected government officials at the grassroot level stepped down. While some states have had several turnovers of local government officials, which also leads to employment and empowerment, Anambra has since the berthing of the nascent democracy 16 years ago not had a single local government election, while the council areas have been manned by either civil servants or appointed officials.

Attempt by Governor Peter Obi to conduct the polls initially met a brick wall as dissident politicians in the state who could not conduct the election felt it would be a slight on their face for Obi to be the one to triumph in an area where they failed. Firstly, such people had insisted that the state was not politically stable for any election, and each attempt Obi made to conduct the election was seen as an invitation to further chaos in the state as it had also been turbulent, prior to the exit of Dr Chris Ngige with the trouble between him and his godfather, Chief Chris Uba.

The excuse for the disruption of the local government polls latter shifted to the mutilated voters’ register. Those who were strongly opposed to the conduct of the election insisted that the same register used in the conduct of the 2010 governorship election which saw several alien names in the register should not be used in the conduct of the election. Surprisingly, the same people who each time scuttled the conduct of the election are usually the first to accuse Obi of inability to conduct the election.

Though all these continued, Obi believed that before he leaves office he will ensure the conduct of the election. In all, the election has in recent times been rescheduled about five times for diverse reasons, but the governor made good his word last Saturday when he conducted what turned out a successful election that had about 25 political parties participating, despite the refusal of the APC to particip;ate in the election .

The chairman of ANSIEC, Chief Sylvester Okeke in a chat with journalists disclosed that it was a historic election as there has never been such a number of political parties participating in local government election anywhere in the country before. Okeke however disclosed that the only political party that refused to participate in the election is the APC, even though it did not write the commission formally to state that it would not participate but simply sent an SMS signed with the initials SDS to say that it would not participate being that it is still in court contesting the validity of the voters’ register used in the conduct of the governorship election.

During the election, though there were hitches, which led to delay in the distribution of materials to various polling units around the state, APGA national chairman who was at his Aguluzoigbo civic centre to vote stated that despite the hitches, the election has so far been a success. Umeh dismissed calls for the cancellation of the election, saying that there is no reason for the cancellation. He added that some political parties including APC have been working hard to frustrate the eforets of yhe state government in the conduct of the election.

Umeh further praised the judiciary whom he said looked into the merit of a request by the APC for an injunction to restrain the SIEC from conducting the election and threw it out after finding it to be lacking in merit.

Another APGA stalwart and Senior Special adviser to Governor Peter Obi, Chief Ben Obi told journalists that in a polling booth close to his house, APC members came to participate in the election and wanted to forment trouble, after they had announced their withdrawal. He said, “I wonder why Ngige said he will not participate in the election and still sent his members here to disrupt the election? If he does not want to participate in the election, why not stay at home and stop sending his people to come and cause trouble around,” Obi querried.

In announcing the election results last Sunday, Chief Sylvester Okonkwo, Acting Chairman of ANSIEC praised Anambra indigenes for seeing reasons why the election should hold. He also traced the origin of failures of conduct of local government elections in the state and concluded by thanking Governor Peter Obi he remained resolute in the conduct of the election. He reminded that the commission tried its best to maintain fairness in the conduct of the election, and contrary to other states where the ruling party always swept all the positions in council polls, other opposition parties like PDP, PPA and UPP were able to get seats at the ward level.

Okonkwo also praised Anambra people for their comportment throughout the period of the election, which led to the peaceful conduct. “Is true that our people know how to talk and threaten fire, but they always remain their brother’s keepers. That is why even with the strict opposition, we did not witness any bloodshed. All I am asking is that anyone who feels aggrieved about the results as announced should go to court to seek redress rather than taking laws into their hands.

Though some individuals in the state had picked holes in the election, the Conferenece of Nigeria Political Parties, CNPP has commended ANSIEC for the conduct of the election. In a press conference orgarnised by the conference, its Anambra State chairman, Chief Mrs Oby Okafor said that the election was transparent, and that the SIEC did well in conducting the election.

Okafor who was flanked by several members of the executive of the body condemned call for cancellation of the election, calling on all those from opposition political parties who won positions in the election not to despair or be intimidated, but to stand firm in their council areas and ensure provision of democracy dividends.

Now that Obi has finally conducted the local government election, many believe that he has successfully added another feather to his cap as the first since the nascent democracy to conduct council polls in the state. Chief Emmanuel Egbobike, former commissioner for environment told journalists that the conduct of the election has vindicated Governor Obi, and shown the people of the state that he actually means well for the people. He continued that the enthronement of a democratic leadership in the grassroots has shown that all the while when people are accusing him of refusal to conduct the election, it was actually the opposition political parties that were truncating democracy in the grassroot.

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