By Emmanuel Aziken
One of the most bombastic questions that arose from the fallouts of the Anambra governorship election was the issue of the whereabouts of the 200,000 All Progressives Congress, APC voters who endorsed Senator Andy Uba as the candidate during the party primaries.
That question that had been sarcastically rehearsed and rephrased by APC critics was itself brought to the fore by Andy Uba in his rejection of the outcome of the election result last Thursday.
The Andy Uba Campaign in articulating its rejection of the election result said:
“It is inconceivable that our candidate, who polled over 200,000 votes in the APC primary election would be allocated a slightly above 43,000 votes by INEC,” the campaign fumed in a statement issued by Ambassador Jerry Ugwoke.
The reaction was shocking to many especially as it was signed by Ambassador Ugwoke, one of the most erudite legislators to have come out of Anambra State.
The rebuttal of the election result inevitably resurrected the questions that smeared what was described as a primary that was not.
Many would remember that the Anambra APC primary turned into an issue when only Andy Uba out of the 12 aspirants who were cleared for the primary accepted the outcome of the primary. 11 other aspirants rejected the outcome of the primary in which Andy Uba coasted home with 230,201 of the 348,490 total votes supposedly cast in that direct primary.
What was outstanding in that primary was that Senator Chris Ngige and the 11 aspirants affirmed that the primary did not hold. However, the Governor Dapo Abiodun-led panel insisted that it conducted a primary in which Andy Uba dusted every other aspirant with 66% of the votes.
Remarkably, the election turned into a totally different ball game for Senator Uba. With Governor Abiodun far away in Ogun State and a heavy complement of security men monitoring the newly introduced BVAS machines, almost 200,000 of those who backed Andy Uba in the APC primaries were unable to exercise their franchise.
So, Andy Uba may have had a point in claiming that his support base which helped him to victory in the APC primary was rigged out!
Though Andy Uba lost out in Anambra, many who have followed the trend in APC direct and indirect primaries would not be surprised to report that the support which ‘favoured’ aspirants get in primary elections are often missing in the main election.
In 2019, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu defeated the incumbent governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode in the APC primary by polling 970, 851 votes to the 72,901 credited to Ambode.
However, in the main election, Sanwo-Olu polled only 739,445, about 250,000 votes less than the score he got in the APC primary.
Given the trend towards direct primaries, this is an ugly trend that needs to be checked in order to ensure that our democracy is built up to fully express the wishes of the party grassroots.
Many are indeed shocked that Andy Uba chose to resurrect what should have been buried, but the former political top player chose to bring further scrutiny unto his political past.
Few would dispute the fact that Andy Uba is about or has been one of the most influential political operators in the country. He used his opportunity to make many men and penetrate institutions.
As President Obasanjo’s most trusted ally, he had the unique position of appointing people into positions who till today continue to repay him even if it involves breaching the tenets of democratic culture.
He was reportedly the one who appointed Prof Chukwuma Soludo as governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. There are also many who credit him with the appointment of Prof. Maurice Iwu as chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
In the Senate when many gravitated towards plush committees, Andy Uba got for himself the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on INEC. In the opinion of some, that option was simply to entrench himself in INEC.
However, unfortunately, the structure and systems in INEC that may have been disposed to him could not obfuscate the truth of the newly introduced BVAS machine.
Even more, another lesson from the Anambra election was the demystification of men and women of timber and caliber.
As the Andy Uba Campaign quipped, they had successfully ensured that the majority of powerful politicians in the state were won over to the APC. However, on election day nearly all of them failed to deliver their polling booths to the APC.
With the onset of electronic voting, the influence of such heavyweights that Andy Uba relied on is bound to diminish.
It is unfortunate that despite the men and women that Andy Uba has successfully built that the grassroots turned against him. The lesson from this is for other politicians to look beyond the big names and do things that would impact on the grassroots where the power base is now gravitating to.