By Jide Ajani, Deputy Editor, Sunday
This is a report about todayâ€™s examines gubernatorial elections in Anambra State.Â This state today becomes the first to break away from the structured four-year gubernatorial election routine.Â The report also highlights the last minute horse trading going on.Â The procedure for todayâ€™s elections is also exclusively brought to you in this report.
How It All Began
But for the doggedness of Peter Obi, today would never have come.Â How?
When he was declared as the duly elected governor of Anambra State in 2006, it was just one year to the end of the normal four-year tenure for state governors.Â It was thought that Obi would either go for re-election or go back to the business community from where he came as the 2007 general elections were just around the corner.
Owing to the shambolic goings-on within Obiâ€™s All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, Obi, then governor, waited for the results of the 2007 gubernatorial elections in Anambra State to be announced before heading back to court to ask for the interpretation of the constitution on the issue of four â€“year tenure.
The Supreme Court pronounced that a four-year tenure starts and ends after four years from the date of swearing-in of the governor-elect.
By the pronouncement of the Supreme Court, Anambra State is today conducting the first breakaway gubernatorial elections.
The implication of todayâ€™s election is that the state would no longer join other states in the routine general elections which would hold next year.
For many, Obiâ€™s voyage into the realm of legalism was not expected to yield anything positive at the end of the day but it did.
From his case at the governorship election petition tribunal – which was the first case that was won, after all of three years â€“ to his case at the Supreme Court seeking interpretation on the meaning of four-year tenure, Obiâ€™s doggedness appears to have paid off on many fronts.
First is the fact that democracy may just be about to begin to gain ground as it marks the beginning of staggered elections in a country where a sense of propriety has taken flight.
Second is the fact that the perennial excuse that all elections holding in one day poses serious challenges to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, would not be tenable after todayâ€™s elections.Â Add to this the seeming plausible steps taken by the electoral umpire (INEC, that is) at ensuring that todayâ€™s elections are hitch-free.
Once INEC announced February 6, 2010, as the election date, the usual skepticism trailed the announcement.Â This was made even more manifest in the light of the rerun governorship elections in Ekiti State.
There were rerun elections in Kogi, Sokoto, Bayelsa and Adamawa States but that of Ekiti was so rancourous that faith in the electoral process began to desert the people and even INEC on account of some of the events which immediately preceded Ekiti, during Ekiti and immediately after Ekiti.Â Todayâ€™s elections, INEC is insisting, would not go the way of Ekiti because of the number of steps it has taken.
But Nigerians are still skeptical.Â They base their skepticism on what they describe as a history of failed attempts to ensure a level playing field.Â They complain about the votersâ€™ register which would be used.Â Some Nigerians believe and, therefore, insist that counting votes and declaring same at the polling stations would do a lot to enhance the integrity of the process.Â In fact, such people point to the June 12, 1993 Presidential Elections as a yardstick for such practice.
They claim that it was because votes were counted at the polling stations that enhanced the integrity of that election which continues to be regarded as the freest and fairest elections in Nigeriaâ€™s history.
How Todayâ€™s Election Would Be Conducted
As a first step to ensuring that people do not go about in search of polling centres where their names appear on the register, Weekend Vanguard gathered that INEC has made available a GSM hotline for the verification of registration status by prospective voters.Â The number is 08133315555.Â From any voterâ€™s GSM phone, the VIN Number on the voterâ€™s card can be sent as text and a verification result is immediately reflected.
Also, it appears as though INEC has bowed to pressure.
The commission has put in place some measures which it hopes should safe guard the integrity of the process.
A document made available to Weekend Vanguard suggests the following steps on how Saturdayâ€™s elections would be conducted
* That all eligible voters are expected to come to the polling centre with their voterâ€™s card which will have among other details, clear picture of the potential voter.
* The name of every authentic voter is expected to be on the register.
* Any person with a voterâ€™s card but whose name is not on the voters register may be allowed to vote on the discretion of the Commission, but such votes are to be paced aside as tendered ballot.
* The registered agents of the candidates are expected to have liaised with INEC office in Awka yesterday (Friday), to take inventory of necessary election material and especially the ballot papers to be used in the various parts of the state.
* All candidates for the governorship election are expected to have their agents who are duly registered and identified by INEC.
* On Election Day, all registered and duly recognised party agents are expected to be at their assigned polling center throughout the duration of voting.
* At the end of voting, the agents are expected to follow the counting of votes and then sign off the result sheet.
* INEC has established an election monitoring and observation board known as the Anambra State 2010 Governorship Election Monitoring and Observation Group which is independent of the commission.
* The Anambra State 2010 Governorship Election Monitoring and Observation Board will collate its independent assessment of the election, submit a report to the Chairman of the Commission and also publish their observation report for public consumption.
* No candidate or any other individual for that matter is allowed to near the polling center with police or sundry security aides.
* Candidates, as with all other voters are expected to come to the polls in a civilized manner, get accredited, cast their votes and depart the polling center.
* No candidate or political party is allowed to carry out any form of campaign or canvassing of votes at the vicinity of the polling centre or any other place for that matter. * Displaying party flags, posters of candidates and the like, are of course, clear campaigns and are prohibited.
* INEC has declared that at the end of polling, results are to be counted at the polling centre, announced there and signed by agents of the candidates.
CANDIDATES FOR TODAYâ€™S ELECTION
*AC: Dr. CHRIS NWABUEZE NGIGE (OON), GOVERNOR; HON. PHILIP OBIORA AGBASI, DEP. GOVERNOR
*ADC:Â RALPH OKEY NWOSU, GOVERNOR; SIR. PRINCE EMMANUEL ODUNZE, DEP. GOVERNOR
*ALP: ARC.MIKEIKEMEFUNA NWAFOR, GOVERNOR; CAROL N. ONWELUZO (MRS), DEP. GOVERNOR
*ANPP:Â MICHAEL NNAMDI EJEZIE, GOVERNOR; OKEKE GEORGE OKWUDILI DEP. GOVERNOR
*APGA:Â MR. PETER GREGORY OBI, GOVERNOR; MR. EMEKA NDUBUISI SIBEUDU, DEP. GOVERNOR
*ARP:Â HON. EMMANUEL NWALUNOR, GOVERNOR; EZEIFE CHUKS UCHEÂ Â Â Â Â Â DEP. GOVERNOR
BNPP:Â ONWUGBUFOR VALENTINE C., GOVERNOR; NWANKO TONY BENSON C., DEP. GOVERNOR
*CDC: CHUKWUEMEKA KENNETH, GOVERNOR; JOHN NWOSU, DEP. GOVERNOR
*CP:Â ARC. GEOFF ONYEJEGBU, GOVERNOR; OKEKE NNODU CYRIL, DEP. GOVERNOR
*CPP: EGONU RICHMOND OLISA, GOVERNOR; EZENOKE CHRISTIAN NDIDI, DEP. GOVERNOR
*HDP:Â NICHOLAS C. UKACHUKWU, GOVERNOR; MIKE OKOYE, DEP. GOVERNOR
*LP:Â ANDY EMMANUEL N. UBA, GOVERNOR; NDIFE EDWIN DEP. GOVERNOR
*NAP: MRS. NJIDEKA UGOCHI ANYADIKE, GOVERNOR; ARTHUR OBI OKOLONJI, DEP. GOVERNOR
*NCP: KENNETH OZOEMENE NWUBA, GOVERNOR; JOHN CHUKA ODENIGBO DEP. GOVERNOR
*NDP:Â CHIJIOKE GODFREY NDUBUISI, GOVERNOR; MRS. FLORENCE CHINYELU OBIAKO, DEP. GOVERNOR
*NMDP: CHRISTOPH IKE NWEGBU, GOVERNOR; EMEKA HAROLD AMOBIÂ Â Â DEP. GOVERNOR
*NMPP: MR. OKOYE GEORGE IKE, GOVERNOR; HON. PAUL PARKER ONYEIZUGBO, DEP. GOVERNOR
*BNPP:Â PATRICK OGOCHUKWU EGOLUM, GOVERNOR; DOZIE VITALIS ODIGBOH, DEP. GOVE RNOR
*NSDP: CHIEF VICTOR I. ANIGBATA, GOVERNOR: MR. NWOKOBELU CHRISTOPHER UCHENNA , DEP. GOVERNOR
*PDP: SOLUDO CHARLES CHUKWUMA, GOVERNOR; SEN. ANOSIKE EMMANUEL OBIAJULU, DEP. GOVERNOR
*PMP:Â EUGENE EZEKWUECHE, GOVERNOR; MRS. IBENEME VIVIAN CHIZOBA, DEP. GOVERNOR
*PPA: HON. MRS. UCHE LILIANÂ Â EKWUNIFE, GOVERNOR: DR. MIKE AGHADIUNO, DEP. GOVERNOR
*RPN:Â HON. BENJAMIN OBIDIGBO, GOVERNOR; ARC. SIR. JUDE JONATHAN EMEJULU JP., DEP. GOVERNOR
*UDP: ARR. GODSON OHAENYEM OKOYE, GOVERNOR; OKECHUKWU EMMANUEL CHINELUO, DEP. GOVERNOR
*UNPP: DR. OKOLI CHRISTIAN NWACHUKWU, GOVERNOR; NOSIKE JULIUS CHUKWUMA, DEP. GOVERNOR