BY VINCENT UJUMADU, Awka
AT last, Anambra has joined the league of states that have elected people at the third tier of government. The ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, in the state made a clean sweep of the local government election held on Saturday, 11th January, 2014. The party won 20 chairmanship and 304 councillorship seats in the 20 local government areas where elections were held. Othe parties won 14 councillorship seats. Election did not take place in Nnewi North local government area and the state Independent Electoral Commission, ANSIEC, has fixed today for the exercise to be conducted in the area.
The APGA new helmsmen at the local government areas are Hon Chukwuma Umeoji (Aguata ) who polled 55810 votes; Hilary Udeano (Anambra East)28747 votes; Simon Onuorah (Anambra West) 12228; Ikeobi Ejiofor (Anaocha) 14934; Cosmos Okonkwo (Awka North) 15381); Azubuike Ilo (Awka South) 28292; Paul Obiorah (Ayamelum) 11531; Chukwudi Okeke (Dunukofia) 17702; Jude Mbaegbu (Ekwusigo) 17563; Emmanuel Idemobi (Idemili North) 17600 and Henry Ezenwa (Idemili South) 37117.
Others are Chigozie Awugosi (Ihiala) 27441; Emeka Onuorah (Njikoka) 10772; Ossy Iyiegbu (Nnewi South) 28184; Victor Aguluo (Ogbaru) 23119; Douglas Egbuna (Onitsha North) 9246); Ann Chukwuneke) 7070; Fredrick Emekwe (Orumba North) 13719; John Udeakpe (Orumba South) 8186 and Charles Okafor (Oyi) 24190.
Wards where the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, won councillorship seat are Aguata (one), Anambra East (one), Idemili North (one), Idemili South (one), Ihiala (one), Njikoka (one), Nnewi South (one), Onitsha North (two), Onitsha South (two), and Orumba South (one).
Governor Peter Obi described the local government election in Anambra State as peaceful and well organized.
Though some people complained that the exercise was either not conducted in their areas or started late, the elected chairmen and councilors have already been sworn in and all eyes are on them to deliver dividends of democracy to the people.
Before the election, two political parties, the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, said they were withdrawing from the exercise because of the perceived deceit by ANSIEC over preparations for the election. For instance, the opposition parties said ANSIEC did not publish the list of candidates of the parties participating in the election and also faulted the voters register to be used.
Also faulting the election in his area, the Anambra State leader of Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA), Mr. Godwin Ezemo said his people would not accept the result of the election in his Umuchu area of Aguata. Ezemo, who was the governorship candidate for PPA in the Nov 16, 2013 gubernatorial election in the state, said that ANSIEC presence was not seen in the wards till about 2.30 pm and then they turned up with election materials without the result sheet.
He said: “The result sheet is a tiny piece of paper that is easy to carry and very vital in the conduct of election and should not be said to be missing if there is sincerity in the process. It was a clear indication that some group of politicians made away with the vital document to please themselves. I am not worried that my party will not win the election, but I am worried that the people have been fooled and deceived for many years”.
However, the state chapter of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, CNPP, debunked the allegation, arguing that the poll was transparent, free and fair. The state chairman of CNPP, Mrs. Oby Okafor expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the exercise, adding that unlike local government elections conducted in other states, the state Independent Electoral Commission, ANSIEC, provided a level- playing ground for all the political parties.
According to her, other political parties secured victory in various parts of the state, unlike in others states where the ruling parties won all the positions and enjoined candidates of other political parties to use their positions in the various councils to promote healthy debate and inputs that would help entrench good governance, while urging the newly elected chairmen to be fair and just in their actions so as to achieve the goals of delivering democracy dividends to the people. The group called on aggrieved political parties and individuals who still had reservation on the exercise to tow the line of civility and channel their grievances to appropriate quarters to maintain peace and stability in the state.
Also, a coalition of civil society organizations described the Anambra local government election as complying with international best practices. The Director General of the Centre for Credible Leadership and Citizens Awareness, Dr. Gabriel Nwambu said they inspected sensitive and non sensitive materials before, during and after the distribution to the various local government areas, wards and polling units across the state.
The group said though voting in some polling units commenced slightly behind schedule, voters were allowed to exercise their franchise freely and commended the impressive turnout of the electorate across the state. It commended ANSIEC for a well- focused preparation and high degree of compliance with relevant electorate laws, as well as providing level playing ground for all political parties to compete.
National Secretary of Forum of State Independent Electoral Commissions of Nigeria and Chairman Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission, Mrs. Hannatu Usman Biniyat expressed satisfaction with the turn out of voters. Biniyat and some of her colleagues who arrived Anambra State the day before to monitor the exercise, said they visited many local government areas in the state and observed the distribution of electoral materials to various points, adding that lapses identified during the distribution were quickly rectified.
Anambra State Chairman of APGA, Chief Mike Kwentor described the exercise as credible, explaining that all the political parties participating were given equal opportunity to elect their preferred candidates.
Some of the elected chairmen are already speaking on their plans for their local governments. Shortly after taking his oath of office at Government House, Awka, the chairman of Aguata local government, Hon. Chukwuma Umeoji, former legislator that represented Aguata Federal Constituency between 2007 and 2011 outlined his priorities in office and emphasized that his present job is more challenging than his former legislative assignment.
He said: “At the legislative level, you have a larger house and a leadership. At the executive level, you give leadership. The executive assignment is a high demanding assignment because you have to really take charge. The buck stops on your table. But on legislative issues, you have a larger house where you have the leadership; so you might not have the authority required of you to deliver the job. But now, one has the chance to work out something and execute it.”