By Clifford Ndudihe & Vincent Ujumadu
AWKA— POLITICAL parties presenting candidates for the November 16, 2013 governorship election in Anambra State, yesterday, signed an agreement to abide by the rules of the game, even as they urged the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and the security operatives to provide a level-playing ground for all the political parties.
In a communiqué issued at a sensitization workshop for the political parties and stakeholders for the election organized by the office of the special adviser to the president on inter party affairs, the political parties, through their chairmen who appended their signatures on the document, observed that contestants perform better when the rules were made very clear.
Ngige, Ubah absent
Some of the candidates, including Senator Chris Ngige of the APC, Ifeanyi Ubah of Labour Party (he was represented by his deputy, Dr. Emeka Eze), did not show up. Also, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was not represented and it was when the event was going on that information filtered into the venue that Chief Tony Nwoye had been declared the candidate of the party by the Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt.
The candidates present were Chief Willie Obiano of APGA who was there with the party’s national chairman, Chief Victor Umeh, Mr. Godwin Ezeemo of People Progressives Alliance, PPA, Mr. Basil Iwoba of PPN, among others.
According to the communiqué, the will of the electorate must be respected by INEC which is the electoral umpire, while security operatives should not only be seen to be neutral, but must be neutral in all actions.
It also urged the presidency to avoid manipulating the electoral process, while the judiciary should play its rightful role by delivering timely judgement to avoid hiccups in transiting from one regime to the other.
The communiqué states that: “the will of the electorate must be expressed in the November 16, 2013 gubernatorial election of AnambraState and must be respected by the political parties and stakeholders;
“The gubernatorial candidates and their political parties should play a leading role in providing a rancour and violence free, smooth, fair and credible election.
“The presidency should avoid manipulating and interfering with electoral process.
“The use of inciting and violent language before, during and after the election must be eschewed.
“No acts of intimidation of the electorate by the political parties, candidates and their supporters should be tolerated, and “The stakeholders should abide by the revised Code of Conduct signed by all political parties and INEC.”
Chairman of the occasion, General Ike Nwachukwu, rtd, who was a former minister of foreign affairs, reminded the people that political competition should not be a war.
According to him, the police and the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, have a special role to play in ensuring the success of the election.
He said: “The success of the November 16 election will depend on the input of these bodies and there is therefore, the need for them to abide by the rules so that at the end of the day, everybody will be happy.
“You should ensure that there will be no violence and no rigging. You must show the way. Anambra has everything to show the world the way to go and the world is watching you.”
In his welcome address, the special adviser to the president on inter party affairs, Senator Ben Obi, whose office organized the workshop, observed that for an election to be fair, honest balloting and counting must be administered without fraud.
According to him, there must be prompt and just resolution of election related disputes and grievances before the election day.
His words: “It is a common knowledge that President Goodluck Jonathan had at different fora dissuaded people from electoral malpractices while advocating for one-man-one-vote to ensure the actualisation of people’s mandate.
“The show of a transparent electoral process is a platform to ensure that the trust of the transition agenda and the Vision 20-20-20 will place our country by the year 2020 to be among the league of twenty largest economies in the world.”
“This could only be achieved in a country that is free of rift and rancour and attractive to foreign investors and also suitable for sustenance of business.”