By Chioma Gabrial
It was the picture of Tony Nwoye, the PDP gubernatorial candidate in Anambra gubernatorial election on the front page of Sunday Vanguard of November 17, 2013 that touched me the most. The candidate looked beaten and frustrated, sweating profusely after he could not find his name in INEC voters register.
Simply put, if he were to be the one to vote for himself alone, he clearly missed that opportunity to exercise his franchise.
That apart, what about the several others whose names were not found in INEC voters register? That is besides election officials not being deployed in sufficient numbers to some polling units on the election day, making it difficult for those officials posted to the units to effectively carry out their duties and some voters like Tony Nwoye not finding their names in the voters register in many polling units.
It’s calming for INEC to have resolved to conduct fresh elections in some areas that had logistic problems during the election but what could be done about those whose names were not found in INEC register? Will such people have an opportunity this time to exercise their franchise?
Anambra is just one state out of 36 states of the federation and INEC couldn’t prove beyond reasonable doubt that it could be trusted in one state let alone across the federation in 2015.
Just before the election, allegations of INEC ‘s high level of incompetence in registering voters, compiling, maintaining, revising and updating voters register on continuous basis which would disenfranchise many from voting were rife. Nothing was obviously done about it and so, it came to pass. All these reports about police using tear-gas to disperse protesting women who were disenfranchised could have been avoided if Jega and his crew did their home work very well before the D-day.
The initial reaction when the allegation was made about two weeks ago that some voters didn’t know when, how, and where INEC conducted its continuous voters registration and revalidation exercise as ordered by Section 9(1) and 10(1) of the Nigeria’s Electoral act of 2010 was that Jega’s enemies were at work. But it didn’t appear so anymore.
The number of polling centers and registered voters which were given as 1,711,061 and 4, 608, were not verified. About 300,685 names were altered from the list of voters while the 93,000 double registrants in the state’s voters’ register could not be ascertained.
INEC itself announced missing 53 polling centers in the voters register which included 34 in Awka South LGA,one in Ayamelum LGA, two in Anambra East LGA, two in Ihiala LGA, one in Idemmili North LGA, four in Nnewi South LGA and five in Nnewi North LGA.
Why was the electoral body not able to secure its data before the D-day?
INEC could have avoided the embarrassment it is suffering today if it had been a little bit more careful.
But there are people who are satisfied with the conduct of the gubernatorial election and the result released by the same Independent National Electoral Commission and understandably, these are people favourable to Chief Willie Obiano of APGA as the next governor of AnambraState and who are satisfied with Peter Obi’s achievements as governor of the state. These people are not worried about hitch-free election as a test run of INEC’s competence to conduct the 2015 presidential poll or about the sabotage by desperate politicians which led to the cancellation of election in some polling centres. With the results announced so far, APGA is leading with 174, 710 votes against PDP 94,956, APC 92,300 and Labour Party 34,444. Many are confidentthat with these figures, INEC should declare APGA winner of the election. But the controversies that characterised the election are too many to wish away.
Agreed, Anambra state is an APGA stronghold and could still have won without any flaws but these obvious flaws are a reflection of INEC’s dismal performance as an umpire.
For that, the Anambra 16 November, 2013 governorship election will remain a fluke in the perception of many others. INEC does not need any soothsayer to reveal that it goofed! How would Jega and his INEC expect Nigerians to trust them for free and fair 2015 elections? The Anambra situation has revealed that INEC is still unable to deal with the consistent challenge of late distribution of election materials and commencement of accreditation and voting. There was also reported mix-up of the election materials for certain areas and that is a clear reflection that INEC failed to respond to challenges in a timely and effective way.
INEC officials were accused of exercising impunity, recklessness and dictatorial tendencies. INEC did not deliver to the people as it promised. It did not bequeath to Anambra people the sound election they were clamouring for. It created room for suspicion. INEC in that litmus test failed to prove to the public its commitment to uphold integrity, fairness and impartiality as an umpire of the electoral process. Some of it’s officials sold out!
This time, INEC should eat the humble pie and look inwards to determine what the real issues are.
But the one truth the other 22 candidates should know is that calling for cancellation of the entire result is not acceptable. APGA is the party on ground in Anambra state and it is almost near impossible to defeat a party which has the power of incumbency.
I make bold to say that despite the hitches in many places which led to the cancellation of the poll in those places, the November 16 poll was substantially credible. There was no recorded violence. Some mischievous journalists had even before the election cast headlines like ‘violence mars Anambra election’ in anticipation of outbreak of violence. They were disappointed.
And so, I wouldn’t support anybody calling for cancellation of results. Dr Chris Ngige knows this truth. And so also do Tony Nwoye and Ifeanyi Uba. Nwoye couldn’t have expected to win an election where he was cleared to contest only ten days to the election. The controversial issues in his own party were also against him. But when INEC failed to capture his name in the voters register, it gave him reasons to complain loudly.
Whether we like it or not, APGA in the results so far released met the constitutional requirement of winning 25% in 18 Local Government Areas which none of the 22 other political parties that participated in the election can obtain in the re-scheduled election. So,even if Obiano doesn’t win in some of the places for re-run and supplementary election, he still remains the winner of the election except if the courts have cause to say otherwise. The people’s mandate is supreme for now and so INEC should comply by declaring the winner.
nPDP : Is Oyinlola on a lonely road?
From what has been going on between the PDP and it’s opposition members, there’s always this feeling that the embattled National Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola who has consistently been poking his fingers in the eyes of PDP leadership has strong political sponsors in the opposition parties.
Or how does he expect to be fully reconciled to PDP with his consistent stance of fighting the party he wants to remain in and function effectively?
From the time the court relieved him of his position as National Secretary of the party to the period of PDP mini convention and to the formation of nPDP with Baraje and G7 governors, he has not acted as someone who has the interest of the survival of PDP at heart as all his actions seem confrontational. Why would he not think about genuine reconciliation instead of spilling everything on the pages of newspapers?
Indeed, publicity, especially when one is attacking the powers that be is sweet but with the way things are going, a time will come when all the aggrieved parties would reconcile with the parent body leaving Oyinlola out in the cold! Let him take a closer look at things.
After the court reinstated him as national secretary, he and others facing suspension were invited to face the party’s disciplinary committee but he obvously doesn’t want to do that, hiding under the cover of an oath he swore to on assumption as national secretary and therefore in his capacity as the custodian of the seal of the party, will not be part of any kind of illegality’.
Does he have access to the seal of the party, let alone being it’s custodian?
Is he aware he is creating the impression of being used by oppostion, thereby giving credence to anti party allegations preferred against him? If he truly loves PDP, shouldn’t he be committed to every attempt to broker peace amongst aggrieved members and become part of the peace process to avoid being left alone in the cold.
Oyinlola had alleged that nominations to membership of the Disciplinary Committee at the national level of the PDP shall be ratified by the National Executive Council of the PDP. What happens to him after Baraje and others scale through the same disciplinary committee.
Oyinlola would be alone! Or does he sincerely believe that based on his modus operandi, he would return fully as National Secretary of the ruling party? They will never let him and he knows that fact.
He should know that opposition is waiting for a man like him but if they succeed in using him as a willing tool to undo his party, the same opposition will equally sweep him out because what goes around, comes around.
His courtesy for the media and its right to inform and be informed is respectful but if he has not received any correspondence from any quarters, why run to the media ?
If he appreciates his position as National Secretary and has great respect for the members of the NWC committee, what efforts has he made since the crisis started in brokering peace? For now, Oyinlola is not the only one involved.
His co-travellers include the former acting National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Abubakar Baraje, former Deputy National Chairman, Dr. Sam Sam Jaja, and the Vice National Chairman, Northwest, Ibrahim Kazaure. The four suspended national officers of the party would appear before the committee on November 27, at the Legacy House office of the party .
If Oyinlola noticed, none of his co-travellers has said a word against the summons by the Committee where they were meant to absolve themselves of allegations of (1) staging a walkout on the party on the day of it’s convention in a manner contrary to Section 58 (1) (b) (g) and (h) of the party’s constitution.
(2)Filing suit No. ID/704/2013 against the legitimate party leadership at the High Court of Lagos State without first pursuing the internal remedies of the party contrary to Section 58(1) (L) of the constitution.
(3)Granting interviews and making statements in the print and electronic media not only disparaging the national chairman and other national leaders of the party, but also unduly publicizing disputes/differences within the party, even in the face of the great restraint demonstrated by the national chairman and other national leaders against whom their calumny is targeted; which clearly contravenes Section 58(1)(i) of the constitution.(4)Writing two letters to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) requesting the commission to recognise them as the National Working Committee of the party, even in the face of the national convention held on 24th March 2012 and 31st August 2013, which contravenes Section 58(1)(b)(h)(i) and (j) of the constitution of the party. So far, only Oyinlola has spoken amongst his co-travellers who preferred to remain silent in the face of the allegations. On this, he is clearly travelling a lone road.
If he wants to prove his point and be a man of peace, let him face the Committee with others and damn the consequences.It is possible too that the others will not appear before the disciplinary panel but they have not made an exhibition of that. That is exactly what I mean.