Anambra Poll: INEC’s Big BungleArticles/Opinion Monday, November 18th, 2013
By Abiodun Babatunde
These days, officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, especially its head and chief proponent, Professor Attahiru Jega, will find it difficult to wear genuine smiles in public, because of the monumental failure called Anambra. With years of preparations (from the last elections that brought in sitting Governor, Peter Obi), what the people of Anambra, and indeed the whole nation, got for gubernatorial elections was, to put it decently, a goof.
Fears are already being expressed that what happened in Anambra was a prelude to the forthcoming presidential elections. That may be an extreme position, but opponents of Jega, even within the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are uneasy with the prospect of an inconclusive presidential election in a politically volatile Nigeria.
On television at the weekend, Jega tried to put on the face of a man on top of the situation, but by Sunday night, it was obvious that Jega’s men in Anambra had bungled big time. With tails between their legs, they faced the public to declare they could not proclaim a winner, though All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate, Willie Obiano, was in an emphatic lead with released results.
If Obiano was gloating over cruising to victory, political foes like Dr. Chris Ngige (APC), Comrade Tony Nwoye (PDP), and Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah (Labour Party), were wearing long faces, like the top brass in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headquarters in Maitama, Abuja. That is if they were not party to the alleged charade. But beyond the actual elections, there were accusations that thugs were hired from Southwest zone to muscle a particular doctor into power.
With an election that featured a “Made in Japan” doctor, and a “Made in Taiwan” doctor, many did not have to think up the party that could hire thugs from the stronghold of the self-styled leader of Yorubaland. The same situation is believed to have played out in Ondo and Edo States when gubernatorial elections held there. In one of the states, one player got so brazen he allegedly brought in militants from the Niger Delta to secure victory.
INEC has said it would hold supplementary elections in places where elections were canceled in Anambra as a result of logistic problems. The election might have been held by the time this piece is published. It had declared the election inconclusive. That might be INEC’s position, but the three other gladiators thought and still think otherwise, because the commission played into their hands, in the full glare of everyone.
According to the three newfound political friends: “We, Senator Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige, Dr Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah and Comrade Tony Nwoye, candidates of All Progressives Congress (APC), Labour Party (LP) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) respectively, hereby call for the total cancellation of Anambra State Governorship Election held on the 16th Nov. 2013.
“We are making this clarion call for total cancellation of the election because it was marred by gross irregularities emanating from: gross manipulation of the Voters Register leading to disenfranchisement of thousands of innocent voters; illegal removal of result sheets, doctoring of the said result sheets and massive removal of ballot booklet and thumb-printing of the said ballot papers; harassment and intimidation of Polling Agents and voters by security officials and party thugs; use of Voters Registers in some Local Government Councils different from the Voters Registers made available to candidates; late arrival of electoral materials; and Manufacturing of results in many polling units where no voting took place.
“We are of the candid view that the sham election does not reflect the wishes and aspirations of Anambra voters. Our call for the cancellation of this election is reinforced by the public admission by Professor Attahiru Jega, the INEC chairman that some INEC staff sabotaged the conduct of the Election. This call for the cancellation of the Election would have been unnecessary if INEC had postponed the conduct of the election after becoming aware of the sabotage of the election by INEC officials.”
But bent on the supplementary elections, INEC announced that it would hold them in over 200 polling units with 113,113 voters. Idemili North Local Government Area, one of the strong political bases of Senator Chris Ngige. Details of the contentious results released, and which integrity has been called to question, showed Wiillie Obiano with 174, 710 votes; PDP’s Comrade Tony Nwoye 94,856 votes, while Senator Chris Ngige of APC polled 93,300 votes.
Seeing INEC in the mud, the propaganda machinery of the All Progressives Congress (APC) went its full cylinders, thundering: ”First, the electoral commission proposed make-up election in only 65 polling units in Obosi before scaling things up to a supplementary election ‘in those areas where election was cancelled’. But we say, without equivocating, that a total cancellation of the election and the organization of a fresh poll, under the supervision of a credible Resident Electoral Commissioner, will be acceptable to our party
”It is not enough for INEC’s detached Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, to tell the nation that an INEC official sabotaged the election in a certain part of the state; he must tell the nation who this fellow is, who he/she is working for, what is the extent of the damage he/she has done to this and previous elections, and whether or not he/she has access to the commission’s database of voters’ register, which was apparently tampered with for Saturday’s election.
”Prof. Jega must also tell Nigerians why 16 Electoral Commissioners, who migrated to Anambra days before the election ostensibly to supervise things, could not ensure the success of an election in a single state, when even a polling unit behind the INEC office in Awka did not get voting materials till after 9 am on Election Day.”
Well, now that the APC has lost out again, with the active connivance of the INEC officials or otherwise, the newspaper pages and airwaves will witness a cacophony of clanging cymbals of the party desperate to have a Southeast State. It was so desperate it sent a known destroyer of Igbo landed property in Abuja during his infamous demolition exercise to Anambra. But someone who may bear the full brunt of APC’s anger is Jega. But does he deserve people’s sympathy? Answer to this poser is blowing in the air.
· Babatunde, a public affairs commentator, wrote in from Abuja.
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