By Chioma Gabriel
Yesterday, Ndi Anambra went to the polls to elect a new governor. It was the hope of all Anambra people that this important election would end well and the choice of the people would emerge.
It was expected that the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr Nkwachukwu Orji, would live up to expectations. But many things were heard and seen yesterday during the election. One couldn’t say for sure whether the election was free and fair until everything is unfolded.
One of the earliest news that emerged yesterday was allegation of voter apathy. For some reasons, IPOB issued a release early in the morning that people were not voting, that the streets were empty and polling units vacated.
But IPOB failed this time because the people came out and voted. The candidates also voted and thankfully, Tony Nwoye’s name was not missing in the voter register like the other time. My perception was that the turn out of the people was “impressive and a mass improvement from what has always been. Hopefully, everything will end well.
People were efficiently mobilized and they were conscientized as well as enlightened.
We also saw and heard the stories about card readers. Again, card readers failed in some places but I don’t think card reader should be an issue. The national assembly has already made it clear that when card readers fail, the manual method should subsist.
And of course we all know the mentality of the Nigerian politician at a period like this. When things appeared not to be favoring a particular candidate, he would quickly come up with all manner of criticisms and it happened this time too. Many started complaining about the card reader not working but there is an alternative to card reader. So, anybody who tried to raise an alarm that would draw the ire of the people failed.
As we also saw, the card reader even failed the incumbent governor and could not immediately capture his finger print and of course he had to vote manually. The same measure had been applied in past elections involving failure of card reader. The card reader should not be used as an excuse for anything. One strong truth still holds supreme.
Among the over thirty governorship candidates, only one person would emerge governor and the candidates should not forget this as they begin compiling their reasons to go to court. Only, the umpire must be seen to have done a very credible job and save the losers from wasting our time. No matter how you look at it, INEC has a duty to ensure that a long story does not trail the outcome of this election.
There were long stories indeed. National chairman of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, Chief Victor Ike Oye claimed yesterday that the symbol of the party in the ballot paper is ‘too small’ shortly after casting his vote at Unit 003 about 9:45am in Amuobia Village, Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State.
He claimed it was even difficult for him to identify his party logo in the ballot paper before casting his vote. We know what Oye was saying. If he, the chairman of his party could hardly identify the logo of his party, imagine what would happen to the voters.
These are some of the issues INEC should avoid at a time like this. They shouldn’t make some logos big and others small. And to whose credit were the big ones made?
What really worried me was the body language of the security operatives; their war-like disposition which could cause voter apathy in the first place. Their ‘oga’ at the top was quick to explain that they wanted to make sure no politician was seen sharing money. Was he saying that in the past elections, money was shared to the electorate to garner their vote? Of course the security operatives have every right to do their jobs in a manner to encourage the people and ensure a smooth exercise but not to scare them.
Typically, a man was arrested by officials of the Department to State Services for allegedly trying to buy votes in the election and was detained by DSS officials. We just hope the ‘poor innocent’ man was not bringing out money to buy sachet water to quench his thirst.
It was also observed, the Igbo are learning fast from Nigerians in other climes and it happened at Nkpor where voters took to their heels and fled from the Ilogwu Orie Nkpor Polling Unit, after more than seven spiritual charms (Jazz) were seen at the entrance of the polling unit.
The election has come and gone. Hopefully, there would be no excuse to go back to the polling booths to do it again. INEC should do the right thing and save Ndi Anambra the trouble.
Let the true winner emerge.
Everybody should be at alert. There should be no hanky-panky when results are being announced.
Que personne ne te trompe (let nobody deceive you.)