ONE does not need to be an indigene of Anambra State to be deeply interested in the governorship election coming up there on February 6, 2010. It is not just because the outcome of the Anambra election would serve as a foretaste of what Nigerians should expect in the 2011 general elections.
But, more importantly, Anambra clearly provides an excellent opportunity for all who wish this country well to make it clear to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its faithful allies, that is, Prof Maurice Iwu and his â€œIndependentâ€ National Electoral Commission (INEC), that many Nigerians are just sick and tired of what appears their stubborn determination to continue sabotaging every attempt by the long-suffering masses of this country to ensure the emergence of leaders freely and fairly elected by them, and so are expecting something edifyingly different this time around.
Given the fierce bitterness with which Nigerians now unceasingly bemoan the depth of rot and decay into which their country has continued to sink due to directionless and bankrupt leadership, resulting from grossly manipulated elections, it ought to be clear to even diehard champions of crude, corrupt politics that the patience of the people is fast running out on any form of â€œleadership by impositionâ€. Indeed, the signs are everywhere that the people may no longer allow it to stand, and would certainly resist it!
Now, the problem is that from the very beginning, INEC had gone all out to suggest that it probably had no intention of playing an impartial umpire in Anambra. First, it dusted off Mr. Chekwas Okorie whose expulsion from the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) had been affirmed by at least four court judgments, empowered him with an emergency, dubious recognition as the partyâ€™s chairman, just to cause confusion in the APGA.
Consequently, Okorie gathered his â€œchocolate cream soldiersâ€ in Abuja on September 2, 2009, and with a most revolting brazenness, sickened decent minded Nigerians with a charade he called the â€œnational conventionâ€ of a party he no belonged to.
There, he announced the expulsion of Governor Peter Obi, Victor Umeh, the APGA chairman, and some others, from the party.Â And the next day, the Nigerian media embarrassed its faithful admirers by celebrating the obscene charade with nauseating gusto.
No one bothered to remember that only a day before, that is, September 1, 2009, a Federal High Court in Abuja had also issued an injunction stopping Okorie and his tag-rag army from going ahead with the illegal gathering, insisting that his expulsion from the party remained judicially endorsed.
But INEC was, however, not as foolish as most people thought it was. It carefully stayed away from observing Okorieâ€™s â€œnational conventionâ€, and merely stood at a distance to behold the response its very poorly scripted and unappetizing farce would provoke.
And soon, it became clear that the Commission and its backers had bitten more than they can chew. Nigerians were simply aghast at such shameless glorification of raw illegality and wasted no time in registering their revulsion. The Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Chukwumeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, made it clear to Prof Iwu that if he was so hell-bent on unleashing anarchy in Anambra State, that he would personally lead a strong resistance against him and his backers.
Well, as reported in the media, Iwu eventually got clearance from â€œhigh quartersâ€ to back down. Consequently, Okorie was told to suspend his daylight madness for a while, while the same INEC recognised Obi as the sole candidate of APGA for the coming gubernatorial election.
Now, it was not difficult to see that both Okorie and INEC were working for the same paymasters and pursuing the same goal. They were not able to disguise the fact that their sole target was APGA, to create confusion in the party, so that when eventually the PDP candidate is rigged in on February 6 as is being widely feared, it would easily be said that APGA, the party to beat in the election, was in crisis, and that was why the PDP â€œwon.â€
Quite early in the race, the PDP made sure it left no one in doubts that it still habours its well-known unqualified disdain for free and fair contest.
This it clearly underlined by the most undemocratic process through which its candidate emerged, which was very shocking, even to those already very familiar with the partyâ€™s crude preferences. And to assure Nigerians that the leopard can never change its spots despite noisy reassurances, INEC simply turned blind eye to the PDPâ€™s failure to beat the Commissionâ€™s deadline and accepted the partyâ€™s candidate. By that action, INEC seemed to have yet again obscenely flaunted its determination to grant the PDP a smooth sail, to help it overcome every obstacle to its usual obscene, â€œfraudslideâ€ victory.
Given this scenario, the PDP candidate, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, can, therefore, be forgiven for carrying on like some â€œGovernor-Selectâ€ (a kind of king-in-waiting) since his revolting, brutal imposition by the partyâ€™s notorious kingmakers. No doubt, Soludo knows full well that this election, like others before it in which the PDP had carried the day, is not aboutÂ sterling character, sound ideas, viable programmes or track records.
That is why only very few can claim some bit of familiarity with any striking point he has made to the Anambra electorate to persuade them that he is the man they need at the Government House in Awka this year. His party, the PDP, as everyone knows, does not believe in free and fair contest.
In fact, it does not even attempt to pretend that it does! The only coherent point I have heard Soludo make is that he had â€œsacrificedâ€ a number of international offers to remain at home to seek to rule (local) Anambra â€“ a point most people would find thoroughly patronising and offensive.
As a former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, he ought to be very familiar with the indices by which the success or failure of anyone that had occupied that exalted office is assessed, namely, inflation rate, lending rate, interest rate, etc., and there was hardly anything that happened in these spheres under Soludoâ€™s watch capable of edifying an unfettered electorate.
In a real democratic country where votes, and not Federal might and electoral corruption, determine who is declared winner at elections, Soludo should also be explaining to the Anambra electorate how he was able to function smoothly as CBN Governor under a regime that was distinguished by abysmal failure of leadership, moral bankruptcy and obscene accumulation of unearned wealth.
Well, happily for him, none of these seems to matter in this election. Yet, in spite of that, the PDP, still, is not prepared to leave anything to chance. It has taken the clever step of putting its two eggs in two baskets:Â One in the PDP and the other in the Labour Party (LP). It remains to be seen which â€œeggâ€ it will to crash or cherish on February 6.
But we must commend Gov Peter Obi for facilitating a level playing field which has made it possible for all the muscle-flexing and weight-flaunting being advertised by Anambraâ€™s countless aspirants today.
Mr. Ejinkeonye , a public affairs analyst, writes from Lagos.