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Appraising Ngige’s protest

By Amaechi Nwokenife

AT the last count, 17 out of the 25  candidates who contested the February 6,  2010, Anambra State governorship election, have conceded victory to the APGA’s Peter Obi.

Prominent among the candidates who have publicly accepted the polls result as a reliable and fair outcome of the people’s verdict are Chukwuma Soludo of the PDP, Andy Uba of the Labour Party and Uche Ekwunife of the PPA, thus leaving Chris Ngige as the only serious contender conspicuously missing from the sportsmanship list. A disillusioned Ngige says he is headed for the election petition tribunal.

Ngige had raised his first protest placard on the ground that his supporters were disenfranchised by the omissions in the voter register. Of course, this was an  unsustainable argument. There was no single queue at each polling centre exclusively for Ngige’s fans for anyone to isolate them and deny them the right to vote. And by balance of probability, the victorious Obi would have suffered greater disenfranchisement of his supporters than any other candidate. Coming on the heels of announcement of the result, this seemed like an emotive reaction made on the spur of the moment.

Days later, the Action Congress candidate has raised a second placard on the polls outcome. Ngige contends, even more controversially, that contrary to the acclaimed official result, the election was inconclusive and required a run-off. Ngige claims to the consternation of most people who have copies of the result, that Obi scored 25  per cent of the votes in only 13 out of the 21 local governments of the State and therefore one local council short of the mandatory two-third spread. It is important to note that the State’s Resident Electoral Commissioner, Josiah Uwazuronye promptly countered Ngige’s claim, maintaining that Obi won in 15 local government areas as earlier declared in the release of the polls result.

So, how did the variation in the chart produced by the Ngige Campaign Organisation as opposed to that of INEC, come about? A comparison of the tables show that the Ngige camp has committed the deliberate error of working out percentage vote scored from a totality of both valid and invalid votes. For instance, in Anambra West Local Government Area which recorded 11,193 valid votes and 674 invalid votes, Obi/APGA polled 2,941 votes, thus, achieving 26.28 per cent of the valid votes.

A computation based on the sum of valid and invalid votes as Ngige has deceptively done, would give Obi/APGA 24.78 per cent of the votes. Again, in Anambra East Local Government Area, a total of 7,212 valid votes and 593 invalid votes were recorded with Obi/APGA scoring 1,889 votes and therefore 26.17 per cent of valid votes cast. But a  statistical analysis of both valid and invalid votes as Ngige has mischievously done, leaves Obi/APGA with 24.20 per cent. This pattern of skewed analysis runs through Ngige’s chart.

While it would be left for the election tribunal to pronounce on the overall merits or otherwise of Ngige’s claims, if indeed he musters the courage to file a petition, the attempt to embark on a whimsical interpretation of an invalid vote, should be immediately discountenanced. Non-legible, mutilated and borderline thumbed ballots are internationally regarded as invalidated votes. A vote cannot simultaneously be valid and invalid. So, at best, it is a bad joke for any educated man to suggest that votes invalidated at counting should form part of percentage vote calculation.

This disposition unfortunately portrays Ngige as one politician desperate for the office of governor.  Disregard for or impatience with due process seems to have become a characteristic feature of Ngige’s politics. The stormy events of 2003 through which Ngige became an unelected governor of Anambra State for almost three years are still fresh in our minds. The ebullient politician is not known to have publicly expressed regret for those incidents that destabilised Anambra in no small measure. Rather, in further demonstration of obsession with power, Ngige as recently as 2009 embarked on noisy inspection of Anambra State government construction projects, even as a private citizen.

In the run-up to the February 6, 2010 governorship election, Ngige wallowed in costly over-confidence. Waxing in the euphoria of his much-touted popularity, the outspoken politician clearly underrated his opponents, particularly Peter Obi. At several fora, Ngige boasted that nobody could stop him from re-assuming office as governor. Times without number, he let it be known that he was partly in the race to teach Peter Obi a lesson. Then, to cap his feeling of superiority, Ngige declared that the party under which he was contesting was no issue, as he would win ‘even in goat’s party’.

Mr. Nwokenife, a retired civil servant, writes from Awka, Anambra State.


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