Over two million voters will be participating in today’s election in Anambra State, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission. The INEC boss, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, has said it is the first time in the history of the state that 2,158, 171 people collected their PVCs and are ready to vote in an election, while assuring that the electoral body would give all political parties and their candidates equal treatment.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting, Yakubu said: “With 37 political parties fielding candidates, this is the first governorship election with the largest number of political parties in the history of Nigeria. Secondly, with 2,158,171 voters, it is the election with the largest number of voters in the history of Anambra State.”
Though the dramatis personae in the election will largely remain the same, the circumstances and conditions of the election vary. For example, while a former governor, Mr. Peter Obi, would be playing a serious part in the election, he will not be doing so as a sitting governor as he did in the election that produced the incumbent, Willy Obiano.
Another serious difference that the election will witness is that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which had always been a serious opposition party in the state and which has now been led for over 10 years by the APGA would not be so much of a force to reckon with, as the All Progressives Congress (APC) has poached most of its members to its fold.
Based on this, statistics have shown that the battle for the exalted position would be a fight between the incumbent goveror, Willie Obiano of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Oseloka Obaze of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Tony Nwoye of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Osita Chidoka of the United Peoples Party (UPP), and Godwin Ezeemo of the Progressive People Alliance (PPA) among others.
As a matter of fact, leadership of the political parties in the race with their aspirants have openly sworn to take over governance from Obiano as his first term in office is coming to an end by March 17 But from experience, it is clear that some of these people are political gladiators who are only acting scripts written by their political godfathers with the aim of confusing the electorate by heating up the polity for personal aggrandisement.
Those ones are not taken seriously. They are just like the Biblical seeds that fell on the rock. By the end of the day, the big masquerade would have taken over the centre stage as Anambra people would have chosen who their leader would be in the next four years. The battle for the Agu- Awka seat of power has for the few weeks the campaign lasted been one of fierce competition laced with smear campaigns.
Though the candidates have campaigned as much as they could to sell their manifesto to the electorate, there is an air of fear that the election may be ‘tailored’ in favour of the party at the centre, APC. Meanwhile, an aspirant into the office of National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Barr. Mohammed Kabir Usman, has accused INEC of conniving with the APC to rig the election.
Usman who stressed that there might be no elections in Anambra State since Nigerians have no confidence in the integrity of the polls accused top officials of the INEC of working closely with the APC to ensure that a predetermined outcome is achieved.
“Strong controversies have always trailed any election conducted by Amina Zakari and in a decent society, no umpire in an election should reside in the same location with a frontline candidate who has an interest in the election”.
Similarly, the Women Situation Room Nigeria (WSRN), a group which has observed elections in different states from a gender perspective and within the human rights framework has called upon voters and electoral official to ensure that the forthcoming Anambra State guber election is conducted in a peaceful environment. The message of peaceful elections and zero tolerance for violence was reinforce by Joy Onyesoh, WSRN, National Coordinator during the press briefing in Awka yesterday.
There is also the fear of IPOB threat for people to stay away from going out to vote. This threat had led to an influx of security personnel in the state as part of measures to forestall any problem that may arise. The security personnel billed to cover the election include, 26,000 policemen, 11,000 soldiers, 326 patrol vehicles among others.
This outrageous number of security in one state has became a scare crow to the supposed voters who may out of fear of molestation choose to stay away from the pooling booths, thereby leading to apathy.
In neighbouring Abia State, the police have urged all indigenes and visitors to go about their lawful businesses without fear. Addressing newsmen after a joint military/police patrol in Aba, the Area Commander in charge of Aba, ACP Peter Okpara said the police would not fail to deal with anyone found claiming to be a member of the proscribed IPOB in accordance with the laws and urged all businessmen and women within the city not to panic as the police are proactive enough to stop any law defaulter. “As long as Abia State is concerned, we are not going on any public holiday. Election in Anambra cannot affect our businesses here in Abia. Everybody should go out and do their normal businesses tomorrow. Police is on the ground and any IPOB member caught harassing people will be arrested and prosecuted according to law because IPOB is already by Nigerian law an illegal organization. I have interacted with market leaders in Ariaria and they have assured me that markets will open.
Willie Obiano -APGA
From the political campaigns, the incumbent governor has presented himself as one with a diehard spirit. Despite the stumps and opposition fire, Obiano has continuously said that the election will be a work over for his party because he improved on the developmental strides of former Governor Peter Obi.
Though Obiano is catching in on his incumbent power as well as the good security he brought to the state, his opponents are giants that also wield some kind of power that may play a stumbling block to his winning.
No doubt, he has managed to tear the PDP into two like Obi did during his second bid, political analysts are of the view that the PDP bigwigs in the camp of Obiano are only there for all the money they can milk from the incumbent governor, not necessarily to support him with their votes.
There is also the fear of APC using the federal might to draw the red carpet from the governor’s feet even while he is standing
Oseloka Obaze -PDP
He is described as the only candidate with the pedigree and all it takes to be the governor of Anambra State. But Obaze’s stumbling block has continued to revolve around the acclaimed enemies of his former boss, Peter Obi. According to an APGA stalwart in an interview some time ago, he said that Obaze stands out and would make a good governor “His only problem is that he is identifying with Peter Obi. Peter hurt a lot of people during his time as the governor of the state. He failed in his promises and he mostly turned his back on the people that worked to ensure he becomes governor.”
Apart from Obi’s issue, there is also the issue of people not trusting in his promise to serve only one term and step aside. The opposition party, APGA has even used it as a campaign tool.
Tony Nwoye -APC
He is seen as no neophyte when it comes to the political wrestling in the state having worked as a party chairman under the PDP. Nwoye is seen as one that may spring up surprise in this contest as he not only has the federal might behind him, he also has the massive supports of Anambra youths to his side in overwhelming number. But, he appears not to have the support of the elites who see him as unripe for the number position.
Among the factors working for Nwoye is the support he got from notable Nigerians, including President Muhammed Buhari, who had on Wednesday endorsed Nwoye while addressing APC faithful at the party’s rally in Awka. Nwoye also has the support of a former governor of the state, Dr. Chris Ngige and first son of the late Igbo leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. Ngige, said:
“If you are governor, your reward will come from the people when you perform well. The roads I built more than 14 years ago are standing, why the ones they built just yesterday are in bad shape. “My position here today is to sign a surety on behalf of the Nwoye and Ikedife,that the two will not fail our people if voted into office”, he said in support of Nwoye.
Osita Chidoka- UPP
He came on board as a contestant and broke even by winning the UPP primary election to the admiration all. Though he was counted as a number in the beginning, he gradually but steadily crawled up the ladder, overtaking many that started the journey before him.
Chidoka at the party’s grand finale campagn said that he is in the contest to win but, at the moment, he appears to be the second best in the line up. He has been adjudged a good speaker and an articulate individual but the state appears not ready for him yet. He wields both the support of the elites as well as the youths.
Godwin Ezeemo -PPA
He is not tasting the waters as he has at several times swam with the sharks but the pendulum still appears not to be swinging in his direction. He is a self-made entrepreneur who people believe would improve the state’s status of Anambra State if he wins because he would devote his time to work for the benefit of the state.
He is a beautiful bride who different political big wigs have approached to join their bigger platform but he has remained resolute in his own ways. As Anambrarians go to the polls to vote, the question is, who will wear the crown?
Bomb scare in Onitsha
The commercial city of Onitsha was rattled with the news of a bomb scare planted at Awada police station. According to a source who spoke to Saturday Telegraph, the bomb was planted in two buckets with wires and placed behind the cell block.
The source said that the bomb was discovered by some policemen in the course of their regular patrol within the station premises. He said that the policemen tried to disconnect the wire and the wire mistakenly fell into the gutter and they all took to their heels.
The news of the bomb scare however reached people living close to the Awada police station and people started running for their lives. The anti bomb disposal unit was immediately contacted and on arrival disconnected the bomb and left with it. When the Police Public Relations, PPRO, Nkeiru Nwode was contacted for confirmation, she said she was not aware of it.
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