By Vincent Ujumadu
When the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced the February 6 date for the 2010 governorship election in Anambra State and November 8, 2009 as the date for the commencement of campaigns for the election, it was thought that political activities would heighten in the state beginning from that November 8.
But the situation on ground is that the 25 governorship candidates who have received the nod from INEC to go into the field to canvas for votes are still operating underground. Ordinarily, the entire Anambra State should have been witnessing intensive political activities, going by the calibre of people in the race for the Awka Government House.
For instance, many people agree that the performance of Mr. Peter Obi during his first tenure would definitely pose a threat to the ambition of others and they would therefore need to campaign vigorously to be able to stop him. With the unnecessary obstacles in the way of the campaigns, other candidates may soon discover that they do not have enough time to tell Anambra people why they should prefer them to Obi.
Initially, the various political parties had complained that the delay by INEC to release the guidelines for the elections was the reason for the apparent political lull then, but days after the expected date for the commencement of the campaigns, the question agitating the minds of the people is, where are the parties and their candidates?
Political watchers have attributed the situation to the case before the Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu in which the former presidential aide, Dr. Andy Uba is praying the court to declare him governor â€“in â€“waiting so that he would take over from Mr. Peter Obi after the end of his tenure on March 17 next year. Judgment in the case will take place today (Friday) in Enugu.
Though many people initially dismissed the suit with the wave of the hand, unfolding events began to worry most people, including those that have been nominated by their parties to contest the 2010 election. The reason is that if Justice Ngwuta and his colleagues deliver the judgment in favour of Uba, preparations for the 2010 elections would come to an abrupt end, which is why nobody is campaigning yet. Rather, the candidates and their coordinators have adopted the wait-and_see attitude.
The Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) in the state said it is deeply worried over the turn of events as regards the pending judgment at the Court of Appeal.
Though the organization had consistently spoken against the lingering court case, which it described as capable of exposing the judiciary to public ridicule, its chairman, Comrade Alloy Attah observed that it amounts to desperation by Uba to become governor of Anambra State by all means.
â€œSection 287(1) of the 1999 Constitution stated unequivocally that the decisions of the Supreme Court shall be enforced in any part of the federation by all authorities and persons and by courts with subordinate jurisdiction.
Presently, the powers of the Supreme Court and the Appeal Court are in conflict and our constitution is about to become an object of ridicule.
â€œA governorship election conducted while a sitting governor was yet to complete his tenure cannot stand. Canvassing for a strange legal terminology â€œGovernor in waitingâ€ remains foreign to our legal and governance terminologies.
â€œIt is our position that Uba should have sued INEC for deceiving him into participating in an election for a non vacant position instead of his inordinate quest to destabilize the Anambra polity.
â€œConsidering the palpable tension that has gripped Anambra residents since November 5 last week when the judgment was deferred to Friday Nov. 13, we urge Honourable Justice Ngwuta of the Appeal Court to deliver an unbiased judgment anchored on the substance of the matter which will stand the test of time.
The world is watching and we enjoin our learned Judges to save the judiciary from public odium and perpetual damnation,â€ the CLO chairman said.
However, another human rights group, the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law is looking beyond the Uba case as it urges the various political parties to play the game by the rule. Chairman of its board of trustee, Mr. Emeka Umeagbalasi believes that Anambra people have the right to choose who governs them at every point in time.
â€œAs the campaign for the February 2010 gubernatorial election intensifies, we respectfully urge the participating political parties and their candidates to play by the rules. Their campaigns must be knowledge and issues based. Name callings and other inflammatory comments must be avoided. Thuggery and violence must also be avoided.
â€œThe ability of the candidates to anchor their blue prints on extra federal allocations and IGR revenue base or vibrant financial capacities,human rights oriented security plans, credible democratization of Anambraâ€™s local government system, state markets leaderships and town union leaderships, respect for rule of law/effective law enforcement, political tolerance/constructive criticism, fiscal accountability and transparency in governance, and absence of abuse of office/zero tolerance to corruption, etc, will endear such candidates to our hearts and the hearts of Anambra electorate,â€ Umeagbalasi said.