By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
And there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother: Proverbs 18:24. By forsaking their own for their friend, the PDP’s top hierarchy have put future collective interests above sentiments of today.
The National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh was ecstatic yesterday afternoon when asked for his reaction to the preliminary results of the weekend gubernatorial election in AnambraState that showed that his party had lost.
”The election was free and fair, we are impressed with INEC. We went for an election and we lost an election, we have tried because we had less than two weeks to run for the election.”
”The president delivered on his promise on free and fair polls in Anambra and we are happy with him and the party entirely will confirm what I am telling you and I think our candidate is still recovering from the shock of the election.”
The PDP candidate, Comrade Tony Nwoye was, however, not sharing the same spirit of comradeship telling a press conference yesterday that the election was programmed to favour the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Chief Willie Obiano.
Obiano topped the polls followed by Nwoye who came second and the pre-contest favourite, Senator Chris Ngige who was third.
Nwoye like the other candidates of the opposition in the state, Senator Chris Ngige of the All Progressives Congress, APC and Chief Ifeanyi Ubah of Labour Party, LP were aghast at what they alleged to be the collaboration of APGA and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to tilt the election results in favour of APGA.
The Anambra gubernatorial election, however, had been promoted by INEC to be the best ever in recent Nigerian history. Towards that end it was not surprising that the commission deployed what commission insiders consider as the best of its electoral officers to conduct the election.
The commission Vanguard learnt deployed the 349 electoral and returning officers for the election from CrossRiverState, a state that has recently won accolades for the high integrity of its electoral processes.
Besides that, was the assurance from President Goodluck Jonathan that the election would be free and fair.
To give vent to the president’s assurance, the security agencies deployed their men in their thousands across the state and along with that was the three day lockdown of the state. From 6 p.m. on Friday before the election till 6 p.m. on Sunday movement was restricted throughout the state.
However, the assurances of the presidency and the electoral commission came under serious suspicion midway into the election last Saturday as opposition party candidates in the state began moaned that the election was being programmed to fail.
The first signs of trouble was the failure of INEC to deploy election materials as at when due to many areas and notably, the strongholds of some of the opposition candidates.
On account of that failure, the commission late on Saturday resolved to repeat the exercise in 65 polling units in Obosi, Idemili North Local Government Area where election materials did not arrive on time.
By press time yesterday that make-do election was under way, but the major opposition political parties, notably the PDP and APC had withdrawn from it, describing it as a farce.
“The obosi election is a fluke and a ruse. They only want to declare Obiano winner this evening (yesterday),” Nwoye said in the post election press conference where he demanded for an outright cancellation of the whole exercise.
The different perspectives of Nwoye and Metuh to the election is reflective of the political differences of the state PDP and the national party.
Nwoye it emerged could not find his name on the voters register and so could not vote for himself and neither could many of his supporters in his Nsugbe ward in Anambra East Local Government Area of the state.
In his press conference where he denounced the result and alleged collaboration between APGA and INEC to foist the APGA candidate on the electorate, Nwoye, was, however, careful to spare the presidency of involvement in the plot to return Obiano.
However, many others are, however, not that mindful as several have alleged a collaboration between Governor Obi and President Jonathan to return the APGA candidate.
It is alleged that the presidency considered the 2013 gubernatorial election as a pay back time for Governor Obi.
Since the advent of President Jonathan, Governor Obi has gone through thick and thin to express his support for the president.
In the run up to the 2011 presidential election, Governor Obi caused APGA to make a public declaration of supporting President Jonathan for the election and the party did not field its own presidential candidate. The governor followed that up by trudging along in support of the presidency in the crisis that divided the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF.
Obi who was the vice-chairman of the NGF did not mind abandoning the mainstream forum led by Governor Chibuke Amaechi to follow the faction led by Governor Jonah Jang that was supported by the presidency.
The impression given of Governor Obi is that he is APGA in the day in Anambra, but PDP in the night and in Abuja.
The success of the APGA candidate was, however, not underpinned only by the alleged support received from the presidency. Beyond that perceived support is the inroad Governor Obi made in delivering democracy dividends to the people of AnambraState.
Governor Obi was able to show to all that he is not the political amateur that many people have taken him to be. He has demonstrated this by demystifying many political strongmen that until recently carved the Anambra political landscape among themselves.
The outgoing governor first against all odds reclaimed his mandate from Dr. Chris Ngige in 2006 and even when he was removed from office after spending less than a year in office, he proved to be a hard nut who bounced back to reclaim his mandate after Olusegun Obasanjo left office in 2007. In the election of 2010, he demystified Senator Andy Uba when he beat him and former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Prof. Chukwumah Soludo to return to office.
The outcome of last Saturday’s election in Anambra State bears a close resemblance to that in Ondo State in 2012 where the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, fought a bitter battle with the ruling Labour Party.
In both cases, the PDP in Abuja was suspected of supporting the ruling party in the state against their own candidate in the state.
In OndoState, the PDP came second and the ACN came third rubbishing earlier projections by the ACN that it was the biggest party on ground in the state.
In AnambraState, APGA which won the election was followed by the PDP and the APC was third. The order of the results is also important, given the legal questions around the APGA candidate. Should anything happen to the Obiano, the PDP would be comforted with its own man, Nwoye taking over.
Governor Obi was able to endear himself to a large section of the state through his policy of cash handouts to recognized communities. Partly through the Anambra State Integrated Development Strategy, ANIDS and also through the policy of dealing directly with the communities, the governor was able to directly empower the community leaders in a way that they had never been so recognized before.
Meanwhile, all three opposition parties in the state have called for the cancellation of the election.
In separation press conferences, Ngige, Nwoye and Ubah alleged systematic rigging of the election in favour of the APGA candidate.
Their assertions were, however, rebuffed by the APGA national chairman, Chief Victor Umeh in a separate press conference where he denounced them as bad losers.
Noting APGA long battles in the court, Umeh said in a riposte yesterday:
“The APC candidate has threatened to go to court because he lost the election. We can never be afraid of litigation because we believe in the rule of law and that was why we spent three years in court to regain our stolen mandate”, Umeh said.
‘’After consultations with our agents as well as with local and foreign observers, we have discovered that what we earlier complained about was a child’s play, compared to the widespread disenfranchisement that was orchestrated by the same body given the responsibility of ensuring a free, fair and creditable election on Saturday.
‘’We discovered that INEC has set up a multi-layer arrangement to ensure that most voters in the state were disenfranchised, apparently acting out a script to manipulate the result of the election in favour of a certain candidate. Where voting materials were supplied, the commission provided wrong voters’ registers.
At press time last night the trio of Ngige, Nwoye and Ubah were addressing a joint press conference on the issues that confronted them in the election.