By Charles Kumolu
Anambra State governorship election has come but refused to go thereby creating an atmosphere of suspense and suspicion ahead of the rescheduled supplementary poll.
This mood is not limited to the aggrieved camps as the leading party in the November 16 election despite being optimistic, also stands to gain or lose from the rescheduled exercise ordered by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Findings showed that despite the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, cruise to victory, a good number of Anambrarians are not comfortable with the idea of supplementary poll across 208 polling units.
“What we are saying is that the exercise should be annulled. Have we not had rerun elections in the past? Why can’t we have it in Anambra? You, as a journalist, witnessed the fraud that INEC did in favour of APGA. So we want cancellation,” a Labour Party, LP, chieftain in Anambra, Chief Chukwudi Egbenu Okonkwo, told Sunday Vanguard at INEC office, Awka.
Nonetheless, the rescheduled election is expected to hold in three poling units in Ayamelum local government (1,247 voters), one poling unit in Anambra East (250 voters), six units in Anambra West (2,000 voters), one unit in Anaocha (276 voters), two units in Awka North (1,356 voters), one unit in Aguata (310 voters) and one unit in Awka South (249 voters).
Others are three units in Ekwusigo (884 voters), two units in Idemili South (800 voters), one unit in Onitsha North (484 voters), 17 units in Onitsha South (12,299 voters), four units in Orumba North (588 voters) and four units in Oyi (1,202 voters).
What this implies is that about 113,113, registered voters are expected to file out on the day of the supplementary polls to cast their votes. But whether or not these voters would turn out to vote for their respective candidates is a big issue following the insistence of All Progressive Congress ,APC, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and Labour Party, LP, candidates, Messrs. Chris Ngige, Ifeanyi Uba and Tony Nwoye, that the entire poll be voided. Infact, the boycott of the first rescheduled election in 65 polling units in Idemili North Local Government Area,LGA, was an indication that the supplementary poll might be shunned by the trio.
Giving credence to this, a source in the camp of Ngige said the trio would not drop their demands, adding that the Ngige Campaign Organization is currently gathering more evidence from their agents to substantiate the claim that the event of penultimate Saturday was fraudulent.
With APGA and INEC at the centre of the storm, it is unlikely that they are being rattled by the growing discontent ahead of the supplementary election, as the duo are upbeat about the possibility of the poll.
In this regard, APGA Chairman Victor Umeh, whose defense of his party’s performance is unequaled, told Sunday Vanguard: “The election cannot be cancelled. We have the highest number of votes. Those calling for cancellation are losers. Some of the places affected by the supplementary election are places where APGA won”, adding that while other candidates would be striving to meet his party, the party would also be garnering more votes.”
Fear of court injunction
The suspicion that the aggrieved parties might get a court order to stop the supplementary election was punctured by Umeh, who said, “the court cannot intervene until the election is concluded.”
This position, however, does not sound convincing to those, who cited the precedent which saw the June 12, 1993 presidential election being stopped through a court order by Justice Bassey Ikpeme.
But INEC spokesperson, Mr. Kayode Idowu, said the issue of whether the courts could intervene or not is left for the courts to interpret. The implication of this is that the courts might become a factor in the issue as the supplementary contest approaches.
Regardless of that, if the trio of Nwoye, Ngige and Uba fail to participate in the supplementary poll as it appears, APGA candidate, Chief Willie Obiano, will emerge as governor-elect.
Another issue that cannot be rightly predicted in the build-up to the supplementary election is the direction the unusual alliance between the PDP candidate and other aggrieved contenders is headed to.
Nwoye, who, before now, was not a political associate of Ngige, surprisingly formed an alliance with Ngige and Uba in protest against what they described as massive irregularities that marred the November 16 election.
Nwoye’s move was to the chagrin of many observers who claimed that the national leadership of the PDP has sympathy for APGA.
And that played out through a statement issued by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olise Metuh, which applauded the poll. Metuh, in the statement a day after the disputed election, said the PDP was satisfied that despite the alleged massive importation of thugs and plots by the APC to introduce violence to disrupt and rig the election, the process was conducted peacefully. “The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) hereby commends President Goodluck Jonathan for providing adequate security and the enabling environment for the conduct of credible, free and fair governorship election in Anambra State last Saturday in spite of any perceived hitch(es),” the PDP scribe stated.
He further said, “While we now await the official result, we wish to express our satisfaction that the election was conducted without disturbances, despite the massive importation of political thugs by the All Progressives Congress (APC) as well as their heinous plots to introduce violence to disrupt and rig the poll having discovered that they have been rejected by the people.”
With PDP’s stand clearly opposed to Nwoye’s association with Ngige and Ubah, it is left to be seen if Nwoye would insist on his demand for the cancellation.
Speaking in this regard, a source in Ngige camp, told Sunday Vanguard that though the PDP candidate had not shifted grounds, the stance of his party appears to be slowing him down.