By Cosmas Okoli
The Anambra State Governorship election is poised to change the way politics is played in Nigeria. For the first time in the history of Nigeria, the most vulnerable members of the society have not only risen to be counted but have resolved to determine who wins the election.
This resolve has jolted a lot of politicians who were caught napping. This is as a result of the criteria which these groups have decided to use to determine who will enjoy their support and the fact that these groups intend to give bulk vote to any candidate they endorsed for the governorship election.
The first group to make its intentions known are the disabled under the aegis of Association for Comprehensive Empowerment of Nigerians with Disability (ASCEND), founded by this columnist who also the national president of the group. The organization was founded in 2006 to address the social, economic and political exclusion of persons with disability, through active participation in politics and socio-economic activities.
Since inception, the organization has carried out among others, a lot of advocacy and awareness campaigns through rallies, picketing and courtesy calls on government officials and business moguls. These efforts did not yield commensurate result and consequently, the association decided to change strategy by resolving to play major roles in determining who wins or loses elections in the country.
However, ASCEND, at a press conference held on July 16, announced that Nigerians with disability will no longer live at the fringes of the society and henceforth, the organization will play important roles in all future elections in the country, starting with the AnambraState gubernatorial election.
ASCEND has since taken a significant step towards actualizing her mission by endorsing Dr. Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah as their candidate for the Anambra State governorship election billed for November 16, 2013. This announcement has sent shivers down the spine of the rest of the gubernatorial candidates.
Borrowing a leaf from ASCEND, the widows and widowers, Market women and men, poor rural farmers, Okada and Keke riders,organizations,masses etc., at the flag off of Dr. Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah campaign, endorsed him for the governorship of Anambra state in 2014. The flag off which witnessed a tumultuous crowd gave fillip to the choice of the vulnerable groups.
This development portends a good omen for Nigeria, because the focus(by all and sundry) is to pay attention to political office holders and office seekers, thus leading to all inclusive leadership and development. The bane of Nigeria has always been the skewed sectional focus of leaders on tribe, religion, class and other sectional interest which has stunted our development over the years.
The resolve of the vulnerable,is to endorse a candidate and deliver a bulk vote for that candidate—is a novelty and will certainly bring about the much needed change in our social, economic and political life in this country. The beauty of what is happening is the spontaneity of the actions. In the words of Victor Hugo, a French poet, “nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come”.
Certainly the time has come for Nigeria to look at leadership and development through a different prism; time has come for us as a nation to do away with selfishness, sectionalism and all other malaise which are at the core of our underdevelopment. What is happening today in AnambraState is a revolution and a sign that time has come for us as a nation to stop drifting, and start swimming in the right direction.
I urge all Anambrarians and indeed, all Nigerians to get on board and play their role in ensuring that this wind of change blows across the entire Nation. An American president John F. Kennedy, once said “ If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich “.What is happening in Anambra State is a warning to our leaders from the vulnerable, that they will no longer condone any leadership that does not carter for their interest.