By Joe Igbokwe
Professor Attahiru Jega, Chairman, Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
All things considered INEC will have no excuse whatsoever to give if something goes wrong with the November 16, 2013 elections in Anambra State. Out of the 36 states in Nigeria it is only in Anambra State that elections will take place on Saturday November 16, 2013. Therefore, it is assumed that INEC has put all the necessary structures in place to ensure that Anambrans get a fair deal in who will govern them in 2014. I say this with every sense of responsibility because I know my state very well. Anambra is a well endowed state, a viable state, a very successful state, strong, dynamic, wealthy, and full of very educated people but in politics, it is something else.
In politics anything goes, rules are flouted, processes endangered, impunity celebrated, violence entrenched. INEC must know where they are going and get prepared even for the worst. Anambra is a state for rich business men and women where wealth is evenly distributed across board in the state. Every rich man tries to control what happens in his domain. Each tries to install or put his own man in power. They do not care how they want to achieve this. They can empty their pockets to get what they want. It is a do or die affair and at best extremely dangerous and provocative.
Now, let me recall what happened in Anambra State in 2009 when the then Governor of Benue State, His Excellency Governor Suswan was imported to chair a Delegate Congress of the People’s Democratic Party. After concluding the congress Governor Gabriel Suswan had this to say: “Anambra people have no shame. I had to bring in 326 people from Benue State to come and conduct the congress, nowhere else in the federation would such a thing happen except in Anambra. It is a shame.
“Anambra is a different issue altogether. They don’t want sanity to prevail or anything genuine. The first ugly experience was that some aspirants would offer anything. One even offered to give me one billion Naira cash that evening. I decided and even felt angry at such desperation. I can see why nothing seems to be working out here. Once it is 7pm everyone runs to their homes like fowls. There is no place of interest, sightseeing or nightlife. It is very unfortunate.”
In pains and anger that well educated people have failed the land of their birth I wrote this in September 2009: “The above three weighty statements are loaded and they spoke volume about my State and my people. I felt humiliated and consequently hurt by Governor Suswan’s accounts. These words were like a dagger in my heart. It made nonsense of the land of my birth and it diminished me as a son of that State.
It is only in Anambra State that you have educated derelicts; it is a state where educated people have terribly gone mad. It is a State where educated people are the problem. Anambra State is a State where educated people mean nothing…. It speaks volumes of a people who lack the capacity to reason and organize. It tells a sad story of foolishness in a worst form. It shows a long history of greed and avaricious tendencies in the life of a people known for their hard work and enterprise”. I am sorry for this. Please pardon me.
Now what will INEC do to succeed in Anambra? From all indications the world knows that PDP is not prepared for the Governorship elections in Anambra State. The suspicion that PDP is working with the ruling party, APGA is no longer news. We see nothing wrong in that but the truth is that the oppositon parties have to be prepared to face PDP and the full weight of the Federal Government.
Another factor that proved our thinking beyond reasonable doubts is the romance between Governor Obi and President Goodluck Jonathan and it is all geared towards the November 16 elections. Therefore we fear that the Federal Government will use the Federal security agencies to intimidate the opposition and this is our greatest fear. We saw it in Ondo State during the Guber elections, as the army, police, SSS were deployed to serve the Mimiko’s Labour Party. Many were injured, maimed and killed. This must not happen in Anambra State.
Another information we are getting from reliable and competent sources is how INEC officers will deny the opposition strong hold electoral materials and push the material to the strong hold of the ruling party. For example, where there are 600 registered voters in the opposition green zones the officers will bring 250 voters cards just to disenfranchise and weaken the opposition. The balance are now thumb-printed somewhere else and imported into the ballot boxes of the ruling Party APGA. This must not happen in Anambra and INEC must ensure it never happens.
Opposition parties want a free and fair elections and the winner must win honorably and responsibly too. Anything short of this will be unacceptable to the people of Anambra State. INEC has only Anambra elections to contend with on November 16, 2013 and it must not fail Nigerians. Police, Army or any other security agencies can be used but they must be there to ensure that law and order is maintained and they must be neutral. I want INEC to prepare for this election because it is going to be a fore-test of what will happen in 2015.
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