By Ochereome Nnanna
THE much awaited governorship election in AnambraState has come, though it has not quite gone. The election was declared by the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, as “inconclusive”.
Chief William Obiano of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, established a commanding lead with 174,710 votes, with Comrade Tony Nwoye, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, scoring 96,856 votes to place second.
The candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Dr Chris Ngige, surprised many of his admirers with his 92,300 third place vote, while controversial moneybag, Mr Ifeanyi Uba of the Labour Party, had 37,446 votes to show for all the billions he poured into his gubernatorial venture.
Obiano was the only candidate who not only led by a majority of votes cast but also secured 25% in 18 of 21 local government areas. He needed only 14 LGAs. However, due to irregularities, the INEC cancelled the elections in some polling stations and announced it will conduct a supplementary election only in areas where the poll was cancelled.
It enjoined any candidate or political stakeholder not satisfied with the conduct of the election to go to court, as the courts are the only authorities vested with the powers to cancel already declared results.
Even as we wait for the supplementary elections to be organised, it is pertinent to examine the major factors that determined the result of the election. It is interesting to note that the candidate of the PDP, Nwoye, has gone into cahoots with his rivals of the APC, Ngige and LP, Uba, to discredit the election in its entirety.
They are calling for fresh elections. But on the other hand, Nwoye’s party, the PDP, APGA and 16 other registered political parties which participated have extolled the poll’s virtues. It is a classic case of osondi owendi. Some are rejoicing, others are aggrieved.
The Anambra governorship election of November 16, 2013 was really between the APGA and Chris Ngige of APC. Mind you, I did not say Obiano versus Ngige. Obiano was (and still is) non sequitur. He is still a dark horse, even if he is eventually declared the winner.
The real object was APGA and all it stands for. Governor Peter Obi is an incumbent who has spent almost eight years in power and will be leaving in the next four months. Had he failed in his bid to transfer power to a successor, his legacies would be obliterated.
The party itself would go into oblivion or more appropriately, empty back into the PDP from where it made its original offshoot. That would have been the end of the experiment of having and “Igbo party”, which the late Dim Chukwuememeka Odumegwu Ojukwu successfully spent the tail end of his life battling to in-root.
Predominantly Christian Anambra people would thus have handed over their state to a Muslim-dominated APC, which is essentially a Yoruba/Hausa-Fulani (or more appropriately, South West, North West and North East) party with Ngige as the local agent.
The Igbos would have come out as a people who are incapable of holding their own politically but rather so weak that they need to climb on the backs of other parties. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed described it by saying that Igbos collect from the highest bidder in their political games.
Baba-Ahmed and his disgruntled cohorts have seen that their malicious aspersions on the Igbo have, once again, been proved for the waste of empty hot air. Anambra has proved its sophistication in politics as opposed to those who make all the loud noises about how sophisticated their politics when all they do is to follow sheepishly the self-serving dictates of an individual political overlord.
Ojukwu will be gratified in his grave that the “last wish” he requested from Anambra people in 2010 was not the last. Rather, it has been turned into a potent instrument for reclaiming Imo in 2015 and moving on from there. If APC had won, Igbo enemies would have rejoiced. The “deportation saga” would have gone without appropriate political sanctions.
The election in Anambra was not about Obiano, Ngige, Nwoye and Uba. It was a failed attempt of a South-West and North-West alliance to annex AnambraState rather than accommodate the South East (and South-South) as equal partners with the rest in a national party.
This was one of the reasons that the election produced the result that we see. And I dare say, no matter how many times fresh elections are conducted the result will only be further confirmed. It was not a fluke.
The second critical factor that led to APGA’s victory was the strategic alliance between Governor Obi and President Goodluck Jonathan. Obi was the Chairman of the South East Governors’ Forum when, in 2010, the Igbo people decided not to field a presidential or vice presidential candidate but to give their unqualified support to a cousin and next door neighbour, President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan when he emerged as the presidential candidate of the PDP. They followed up by giving him the second highest block votes during the presidential election, thus being critical factors in the making of the Jonathan presidency.
Jonathan has symbolically done quite a few things no leader has done for the Igbo people since the end of the civil war. These include the appointment of Chief Anyim Pius Anyim as Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF. Lt Gen Azubuike Ihejirika, the first post-war Igbo Chief of Army Staff is effectively “in office and in power” (given his exploits since he assumed office).
Most importantly, President Jonathan directed Ihejirika to bring out the Nigerian Army and give Ojukwu a national burial fit only for former presidents or heads of state!
These may seem merely symbolic, but they went a long way in reassuring the Igbo people that they have moved closer back to their pride of place in Nigeria. Jonathan is the closest thing to a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction. Peter Obi and the South East governors (minus Rochas Okorocha, who used APGA to climb into power only to jump ship and join APC without consulting with Igbo people) have demonstrated their support for the President since the rebellion started in the PDP to the point where the ruling party has more confidence in Obi than any of the people tussling to emerge as governor of Anambra State on its platform. That was why it was possible for the federal and state incumbency powers to be combined to ensure the victory of APGA in this election in preparation for 2015.
What happened in Anambra was not unique. It was test-run in Edo and Ondo states. In EdoState, Governor Oshiomhole, who helped the President to win in his state and assisted in easing the President’s Labour headaches, had to be assisted to retain his seat, while the PDP in the state was told to cool it. In Ondo, Governor Rahman Mimiko also helped the President to win in his state in 2011, as well as supporting his camp during the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, saga. PDP in Ondo had to wait for Mimiko to ride on.
Jonathan has learned to go beyond his party to look for friends and allies since the party is now full of people whose loyalties can no longer be trusted.