BY VINCENT UJUMADU, Awka
THE long awaited 2013 governorship election in Anambra will take place today in 4,608 polling units in 326 political wards in the 21 local government areas of the state. Twenty three governorship candidates are vying to be elected to succeed Governor Peter Obi whose tenure would end on March 17, 2014.
Altogether, 1,784,536 registered voters are expected to vote in the election. Figures released by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, showed that 52 percent of the registered voters are between 18 and 35 years; 25 percent in the age bracket of 36-50 years, while those between the ages of 51-69 years constitute 18 percent. Voters above 70 years constitute five percent.
Also, female registered voters are 900,701, or about 50.5 percent, while their male counterpart account for 49.5 percent.
A coalition of over 400 civil society groups under the umbrella of the Transition Monitoring Group, TMG, has already deployed over 600 election observers to all the 21 local government areas in the state to monitor the election.
To ensure adequate security during the exercise, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Abubakar has appointed the Deputy Inspector General of Police, DIG, in charge of operations, Philemon Leha, a former commissioner of police in the state to take charge, with three other Commissioners of Police that would be posted to the three senatorial zones of the state, to assist him.
The three commis-sioners of police will also work with deputy commissioners and assistant commissioners of police, in addition to a large number of security operatives that would be assigned to all the polling units.
Abubakar warned during his interaction with INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega and candidates and chairmen of the various political parties in Awka on Wednesday that nobody would be allowed to use his police orderly or escort today, adding that any police personnel found flouting the order would be dismissed from the force.
“If anybody breaks the law, we shall break him. If you have no business with the election, please stay in your house. We beg the people of this state to allow peace to reign. Do not take anything like walking stick or umbrella while going to vote because they constitute dangerous weapons. There should also be no fishing anywhere in AnambraState as the Nigerian Navy will not allow anybody on the waters,” he further warned.
With the closure of all Anambra borders from 5pm yesterday to 4 pm tomorrow, the rumoured influx of people suspected to be thugs from the neighbouring states appears to have been taken care of by security operatives. It was also gathered yesterday that security operatives have encircled all the suspected trouble makers who had earlier entered the state and lodging in various hotels in Awka and Onitsha.
As one police officer put it, “these people may have to remain in their hotel rooms throughout the period of this election because they will be fishing in troubled waters if they attempt to leave wherever they are staying now during the period of this election.
According to him, those who brought them into AnambraState may soon realize that they have wasted their resources because they won’t have any opportunity to do any dirty job.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Jega has also said the controversial polling units hitherto located in a thick forest in Oyi Local Government Area were relocated to Nteje also in Oyi, ahead of today’s election, stating that the highest number of the alleged multiple registration during the voters’ registration exercise took place at the forest polling units.
He said: “When we did the voters’ registration in January, we found four polling units located at Oyi. We had to move them to Nteje where people live.’’
Jega said though the final register for the election which was issued to the political parties had minor corrections, the final figure for today’s election would not in any way be flawed as the errors found on the voters register had been corrected.
He assured registered voters that their names would not miss in the register adding, “if you have a voters card and your name is not in the register, it means you are involved in double registration and you will be arrested.