By Tony Edike
Following the historic February 6, 2010 governorship election in Anambra State in which the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC declared incumbent Governor Peter Obi of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA winner, the camps of some opposition candidates who lost in the contest especially, Dr. Chris Ngige of the Action Congress, AC and his Peoples Democratic Party, PDP counterpart, Professor Chukwuma Soludo had been grumbling aloud just as they continued to lament their losses. While some claimed that the APGA candidate was erroneously declared winner by INEC with the argument that he did not obtain 25 percent of votes cast in two-third of the 21 Local Government Areas in the state, others want the election nullified adducing the non-composition of the INEC Board as reason.
But in response to the development, the National Chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Umeh, who has remained a solid pillar behind Obi, in this interview, viewed the post-election campaigns by Ngige and Soludo as another invitation to anarchy in the state.Â He insisted that APGAâ€™s victory in the election was unchallengeable having met all the constitutional requirements as contained in section 179(2) of the Nigerian Constitution . Excerpts
There have been claims and counter-claims over the recent victory of the APGA governorship candidate, Mr. Peter Obi at the February 6 Anambra governorship election. Some alleged thatÂ INEC declared Obi winner in error because he did not met the constitutional requirements while others have faulted that position insisting that INEC was right. What is really happening?
It has already come to our notice that Dr. Chris Ngige, the governorship candidate of Action Congress, AC even sponsored some people to protest at the INEC headquarters in the name of Disenfranchised Voters of Anambra State.Â Ngige was also reported to have said that Obi did not win 25 percent in two-third of the Local Government Areas in the state as required by section 179(2) of Nigerian Constitution.Â Our reaction to this is very brief.
One is that we are totally amazed that an election that produced a clear winner has remained unacceptable to Dr. Chris Ngige.Â We are also surprised thatÂ Prof Chukwuma Soludo of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP who congratulated the governor saying that he accepted the outcome of the election, has now done a volte face challenging the same election.Â The truth of the matter is that Obi won this election convincingly as required by law.
He won outright in 13 local government areas spread across the three senatorial zones.Â He won in five local government areas out of seven.Â The local governments are Orumba North, Orumba South, Aguata, Ekwusigo and Ihiala local government areas.Â He secured the 25 percent of the valid votes cast in Nnewi North LGA making it six in the Southern senatorial zone.
In the Central Senatorial Zone where Obi comes from along with Ngige, Mr. Peter Obi won four local governments out of seven.Â The Local Governments are Anaocha, Awka North, Awka South and Njikoka .Â Ngige won three Local Government Areas in the Central Senatorial Zone and one in the Southern Senatorial Zone that is Nnewi North.
In the Northern Senatorial Zone Obi won four Local Government Areas out of seven.Â He won Ogbaru, Onitsha North, Onitsha South and Anambra West Local Government Areas and further secured 25 percent of total valid votes in Anambra East Local Government Area making it five in the North.Â So, five in the North, six in the South, plus four in the Central, that is a total of 15.
So, we secured 25 percent of the valid votes cast in the election in 15 local governments, making it one local government above the statutory requirement of two-third which is 14.
But what your opponents are saying is that APGA did not meet the mandatory requirement of 25 percent of all votes cast.Â Are they wrong with this calculation?
We are surprised that people who said they are learnedÂ can come out to brazenly deceive the public with their concocted calculations.Â What we found out was that both Professor Soludo and Dr. Ngige went into a grave error of making their calculations without discountenancing rejected votes or invalid votes.Â Their calculations were not based on valid votes cast in the election.Â And when you check it with the result and figures available, you will seeÂ clearly that Obi of APGA met this requirement in 15 local government areas.
They based their calculation on total votes cast without discountenancing invalid votes.Â Invalid votes in law are no votes and they are not employed in this calculation.Â That is the level of ignorance they have exhibited in order to deceive the public that Obi did not achieve the necessary spread.
Why do you think Obi swept the poll in the areas controlled by his strong opponents?
Looking at the result again, you will see that Obi defeated Soludo and Andy Uba in their own local government area of Aguata.Â Â And Obi also went ahead to defeat Soludo in his hometown and his own Ward.
Ngige did not win any local government or ward in Northern Senatorial Zone.Â He won only one local government in Southern Senatorial Zone, but won three local governments in the Central Senatorial Zone.Â And the local government areas he won in the Central Zone were his clan local government areas of Idemili North and Idemili South with a contiguous local government called Dunukofia that is next to Idemili North local government area.
In terms of acceptability, from the records available, it was only Obi that was accepted across the state.Â No other candidate was able to achieve it.Â The Labour Party candidate, Andy Uba, won only in one local government in North Senatorial zone, Ayamelum local government.Â Soludo did not win in his own Senatorial zone.Â He won in two local government areas in the Northern Senatorial zone.Â Nicholas Ukachukwu of Hope Democratic Party won only in his local government of Nnewi South.Â So Obi clearly had a universal support across the state.Â Apart from polling the majority of lawful votes in the election, he was the only candidate that can be said to be a state-wide candidate where he was able to win across the three senatorial zones, which is clearly a reflection of even distribution of projects.
But Ngige was a former governor and was acclaimed to have performed well during his time?
When Ngige was in the saddle, it was only in Idemili North and Idemili South that he constructed roads.Â And these were the two local governments he won.Â He didnâ€™t win any other place outside his twoÂ local governments.Â So, we could not understand how he can turn around to reject this result and begin to make unnecessary noise.
Despite these hues and cries by Soludo and Ngige, the law is very simple.Â If an election is not acceptable to you and you have any reason to challenge it, you go to tribunal.
Donâ€™t you think that people who felt that their constitutional rights to vote were denied by their names not being in the votersâ€™ register can protest same as witnessed in Anambra?
In 2003 when APGA won the governorship election and Ngige stole our mandate through the operation of his godfathers, we did not demonstrate.Â APGA did not demonstrate.Â We told our supporters and the people of Anambra State not to demonstrate.Â That we have the results to prove that we won and we were heading to the tribunal and that was exactly what we did.Â We went to the tribunal; we never disrupted peace in the state.Â And throughout the three years, we never did anything to disrupt his government.Â All the problems we had were between him and the godfathers which led to the burning of properties in the state in 2004.
So, what do you advise these people?
The option clearly available to them now is only one and no other.Â And that is going to the Election Petition Tribunal.Â The people Ngige sponsored to go and protest who said they were Association of Disenfranchised Voters, there is no such organization registered in the Corporate Affairs Commission.Â And none of them carried voters card during the demonstration to show that they have voters card and were eligible voters but were denied opportunity to vote.Â These are the witnesses he will need to take to the tribunal.
What then is the thinking of the APGA government in Anambra over this development?
We want to warn Ngige that all the political upheavals that Anambra State had passed through has been because of his activities.Â In 2003, he lost the governorship election and went to the Okija shrine to swear that he will be loyal to his godfathers and the clear mandate of the people were stolen and given to him.Â That led to all the political crisis Anambra State has passed through till date.Â And in this election that he has lost woefully, what he is trying to do is to bring crisis in the state one more time.Â We will resist it. Anambra State is peaceful; all the other candidates have congratulated the governor and accepted that the election was free and fair.Â So, there is no reason he should engage himself in activities that will overheat the polity in Anambra State.
If he doesnâ€™t want to go the tribunal and chooses to thread this path he is going now, we will make sure that he is arrested.Â Ngige will be arrested and prosecuted for breach of public peace.Â He should know that Anambra State is not for him.Â He never won any election in Anambra State to give him the audacity to continue to parade himself as somebody who is popular.Â Â In 2003, he lost the election.Â We have tried it again in 2010 he lost woefully.Â Out of 21 local government areas he won only in four.Â And he is challenging somebody who won in 13 local government areas.
How is Soludo taking the issue? He had shortly after the election visited Governor Obi and pledged to work with him.
As for Soludo, it is unfortunate that he has demonstrated that he doesnâ€™t have integrity.Â Apart from his fraudulent manipulation of the primaries that produced him as the candidate of the PDP, the campaign he ran in Anambra State was below acceptable quality for a man of his caliber.Â We also heard that Soludo has perfected plans to use a surrogate to go and challenge this election based on what they considered to be the illegal composition of INEC Board.Â He doesnâ€™t want to do these things by himself.Â He has hired somebody he will sponsor to go to court to challenge the legality of the election based on the composition of the INEC Board.Â He should come out openly like a man and I say this is where I am standing.Â In the PDP primaries, Soludo sponsored a number of court cases including the one by one Probity Adibe through which they suspended the PDP primaries only for him to be imposed from the top.
Did INEC breach any law by conducting the Anambra election?
There is no challenge of the conduct of the Anambra election by anybody.Â Nobody went to court to stop this election.Â There was no positive order made by any court in Nigeria to stop the governorship election.Â So, if he (Soludo) is a Professor, he should have known that all these unnecessary waste of time would be exercise in futility.
Nobody can set aside this election that was held and produced a winner, and a Certificate of Return issued to the man who won.Â The people of Anambra State have been jubilating since the announcement of this result.Â The path Ngige and Soludo are threading now are paths of perdition and destruction.Â And I want to caution them.Â If anybody wants to be governor of any state in Nigeria, it shall not be by force.Â The people should be allowed to vote and determine who the governor will be.Â Contesting the governorship election does not avail them to be lawless.Â We canâ€™t allow this.Â This election has proved how fraudulent and desperate some people can be. They sponsored fraudulent publications of opinion polls that gave them conflicting leads in the pages of newspapers.Â Ngige said he was in the lead with two opinion polls but when the election came, the people of Anambra State decided to say this is the man who is leading; this is the man we want.
Instead of further damaging his reputation, Soludo should go back to where he said he was offered five international jobs and leave Anambra State alone.Â For Ngige, since it is all over for him, I advice that he should look for a shop somewhere and engage in private practice.Â I think this is the right thing to do at this time and let peace reign in Anambra so that the APGA Government led by His Excellency, Mr. Peter Obi should continue with the next phase of development programmes that would completely transform Anambra State within the next four years.