by Nnamdi Anekwe-Chive
On the eve of the Anambra governorship election, I had arrived my village Umueze Anam earlier in the day in order to participate in the election that will elect a candidate that I so much believe can continue from where Governor Peter Obi stopped. At exactly 9pm or there about, I saw several hilux vans conveying members of the National Youth Service Corps and INEC staff, with electoral materials, under heavy police protection to the head quarters of Anambra West Local Government. They dropped some adhoc staff and INEC officials in my village Town hall, with complement of DSS and police protection and proceeded to other villages for same. I gathered from one of the electoral officials that the reason for the early deployment of adhoc staff and non sensitive materials was to curb the usual logistics nightmare that has bugged INEC in the past.
These early deployments occurred all over Anambra state, because I had called my contacts in Onitsha North, Ogbaru, Njikoka, Oyi, Anaocha,Ajali,Ihiala, Ozubulu and few other local governments, all in a bid to corroborate the story of the INEC official that all the adhoc staff and non sensitive materials arrived the headquarters of local governments a night before voting starts the next morning.
It was a very bright sunny morning in Umueze Anam, I woke up to see that, adhoc staff and INEC officials had started accreditation of voters as early as 8am. I was impressed. I called my contacts across the three senatorial zones in Anambra state, accreditation was going on smoothly, except in Idemili North and some other polling units in Awka South and Awka North. I asked the INEC staff in Umueze Anam why they are having challenges starting out early in some areas in Idemili North. The staff had no idea and opined they ought to have started accreditation because the plan was to start accreditation simultaneously across over 4000 polling units in the state.
By midday, voting commenced across all the state, except some few hundreds of polling units where electoral officials and materials were yet to arrive, But hundreds of thousands of Ndi Anambra conducted themselves in the most peaceful manner and lined up to vote. There was no case of ballot box snatching and associated electoral violence.
By the close of poll that day, it became clear that the people of Idemili North and some other areas did not vote. Prof Jega, the INEC Chairman announced that the Electoral Officer of Idemili North had compromised the election in that area, another election was rescheduled the next day,17th November.
By the evening of 17th November, signal showed that the people of Idemili North local govt did not come out to vote to make up for the main election that did not hold on Saturday. The next morning, came a pronouncement by Prof James Ekpoke, the Returning Officer for the Anambra Governorship election, that the election was inconclusive, and declared that a supplementary election will be announced at a later date. He posited that the election became inconclusive because the margin with which the All Progressive Grand Alliance,APGA, used to beat the Peoples Democratic Party,PDP, is less than the number of registered voters in the 210 polling units where the election were cancelled. Before arriving at the decision, the collation officers from the 21 local government of the state had announced their results which showed that the APGA candidate, Willie Obiano, polled 174,710 votes, followed by the PDP’s candidate Tony Nwoye who polled 94,856 votes, while APC’s flagbearer Chris Ngige placed third with 92,300 votes.
Now let me break down the number of polling units and number of voters in the areas where the supplementary elections has been scheduled.The areas in question have a voting strength of 113,113. Idemili North has a share of 89,997 voters with 160 polling units, while other areas are as follows; Ayamelum, 3 polling units with 1247 voters, Anambra East, 1 polling unit with 250 voters, Anambra West, 6 polling units with 2000 voter. Also, Anaocha has one polling unit with 276 voters,Awka North, 2 polling units with 1356 voters, Aguata 1 polling unit with 310 voters, Ekwusigo, 3 polling units with 848 voters, Awka South 1 polling unit with 249 voters , while Idemili South has 2 polling units with 800 voters, Onitsha North 1 polling unit with 484 voters, Onitsha south,17 polling units with 12,299 voters, Orumba North,4 polling units with 588 voters, and Oyi 4 polling units with 1,202 voters.
Having resolved, out of their investigation and the quest to preserve the integrity and sanctity of the process, by scheduling a supplementary election in the above listed polling units as a result of cancellation of votes, the Independent National Electoral Commission,INEC, has come under barrage of criticisms and petitions from aggrieved parties especially the All Progressive Congress. They have deployed their superior media propaganda to maximum use, calling for an outright cancellation of the election in Anambra.
Is it fair to cancel an entire election where out of 4,608 polling units, 201 polling units were bungled and which a supplementary has been scheduled? Why is Senator Chris Ngige afraid of a supplementary election in Idemili North if he claims the area to be his strong hold? Why are the aggrieved parties threatening fire and brimstone? Have they shown us the evidence that the remaining 4,407 polling units were compromised? Because all the parties have their accredited agents who signed the result sheets from the 4,407 polling units that has been upheld so far. Why being so dishonest and wicked to call for an outright cancellation of a violence free and fair election?
Why is the APC writing all manner of frivolous petitions about rigging with out any evidence, when they have not answered questions arising from the 183 fake electoral observers who came all the way from an APC state of Osun and camped in an APC state of Imo, where they were all arrested, and currently being prosecuted by INEC. Were these fake INEC observers going to assist the APC rig the election in Anambra state? And why is Lai Mohammed, the national publicity secretary of the APC, crying all over the place for the Police in Imo to release the fake INEC observers?
INEC, according to Prof Jega, tried its utmost best to ensure a free and fair election in Anambra. That we have a compromised election in 210 polling units does not justify an outright cancellation, and for which a supplementary has been scheduled for 30th November. All the aggrieved parties calling for an outright cancellation are doing so on the premise that they have lost, and their position is out of political desperation. Leading the desperation party is the All Progressive Congress, a party that thrives on extreme brand of misinformation, half truths and conjectures, and should not be taken serious on this Anambra election matter. They have the courts to run to after November 30th.
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