Anambra’s Troubled 1998-2014 Council Poll

Advertisement

 

When the Local Government election holds Saturday, Jan 11, 2014 in the

21 councils of Anambra state, it would have earned Gov Peter Obi

another feather in his numerous achievements cap and long list of

firsts. Because he would have become the first governor to have

successfully organized a council election in the state since its

creation in 1981, after being at the helm of affairs for 8years.

Council election was last conducted by the military in Dec 1998, with

a 4-year tenure which expired in 2003. Though the state Assembly later

amended the law to a 2-year term, since then every attempt to organize

the election has been frustrated by one form of excuse or another

including the fear that the would-be council administrators would not

manage the funds well, especially in the last eight years. It was

therefore believed that Gov Obi has used his style of governance to

teach the incoming council officers how to run things. So far, he has

been running the allocations, accounts, affairs and welfare of the

state and its 21 councils as well as the constituting 177 communities

of about 450 electoral wards from Awka since 2006, all alone.

Little wonder many are presently disturbed as to what becomes of the

faith of the state when he bows out in two months’ time.

Unfortunately the governor’s move to eventually conduct the election

has been met with all manner of obstacles and negative attacks.

Whereas some citizens, including surprisingly, some stakeholders were

happy that at last the election would now hold eventually, others are

opposed to it. The mixed reactions of opposition and those in support

were same in virtually all the political parties, including the

governor’s All Progressives Grand Alliance(APGA) where many tried

every conceivable means to stop the election, so that they be

accommodated and or to allow the in-coming administration ample chance

to have its own men in the councils. That is if they actually would

not delay the election like Obi, masking under all manner of excuses.

With a 2-year tenure, it means that under the eight years of Gov Obi,

he has usurped the positions of no fewer than 4 sets of council

administrators. Little wonder that all parties apart from the All

Progressives Congress(or at least a faction therein) have experienced

one rumble or another as most of those who won the nomination

primaries of their various parties since 2001 were replaced by some

new entrants and leaders of their various parties. Also, some parties

were not in existence when the issue of the council election began in

the state, while some of those who are in charge in various capacities

and offices today had not joined partisan politics then. Regrettably,

some candidates have passed on, whereas some lost their lives in road

mishaps while running to and from Awka for one meeting or another in

respect of the council election over the years. They are many. The APC

faction loyal to Senator Chris Ngige under the chairmanship of Chief

Amechi Obidike indicated their unwillingness to participate since

after the last Nov 16, 2013 governorship poll where the voters

register was found to be very flawed. But the other faction led by

Chief Chuks Chinwuba and loyal to the party’s Deputy National

Chairman(South), Senator Annie Okonkwo has maintained that they would

participate fully. While Ngige blamed the voters register which he

said has at least three distinct versions in circulation, hence

confusing and unacceptable as one of his main reason for opting out,

Okonkwo told journalists that his point was experience has taught him

that once you stay away from any election, you have foreclosed and

foregone your right of protest for that particular election

whatsoever.

Curiously it could be observed that since the seeming fratricidal

leadership war between Ngige and Okonkwo which took root in the last

governorship election began, one of the factions discovered rather

subtly that it would have to kowtow to the other for the list of

candidates, since that other list was long ago submitted to the

Anambra state Independent Electoral Commission(ANSIEC). So may be as a

face saving measure they asked their followers to boycott the election

instead. The last appeared yet to come however.

Also the LP raised alarm over what it described as an open plot by the

ruling APGA in the state to rig the council elections in especially

Nnewi North, Nnewi South, Ekwusigo, Dunukofia, Onitsha North and

Onitsha South councils where LP believes it holds commanding political

control and popularity.

The party’s stakeholders in a meeting in Awka alleged that besides

having concluded plans to write the results of the election in private

premises, that APGA members have also boasted to whoever cared to

listen that they would ensure the Nnewi North and South councils

results were coloured in favour of APGA. Their spokesperson, Chief

Patrick Meniru who read out the communique, however reassured their

members, candidates and supporters that the party was committed to

protecting their interest and that of Anambra voters always.

He named the alleged locations and residences where the so-called

results of the election ‘’were planned to be written, were already

being written, and or would be written, as I am speaking to you now”.

Meniru listed what his party saw as ‘red-flag’ concerning the election

to include:

*the failure or refusal of the Chief Sylvester Okonkwo-led ANSIEC to

hold meeting on the planned council election with political parties,

stakeholders or the candidates;

*none of the voters register out of the three alleged to be currently

in circulation has been ascertained or given to the parties as the

operative one for the election and

*the non-release/publication of list of candidates and participating parties.

*Other issues raised included the failure of ANSIEC, the supposed

organisers of the election, to collect list of poll agents from

parties, or to publish same for the world to see and make inputs.

*as well as the reported training of serving civil servants in the

employ of the Anambra state government to be used in the election as

The party also accused the state government of drawing a unilateral

list of Poll agents, Returning Officers(GL 12 and above) and others as

Supervising Presiding Officers(SPOs) and keeping other political

parties in the dark on the preparations about the election. The

communique highlighted that no list of party agents has been collected

from other parties or published. It described Gov Peter Obi as the

greatest beneficiary of judicial process and political due process in

contemporary Nigerian democracy. The communique pointed out that the

least expected of him was to leave behind Local Government Council

thrown up by popular wish of the electorate. They noted that history

would not be kind to him if he looks away or pretends not to know or

see what his men are upto.

When confronted with the LP allegations, one of the leaders of APGA

and former national President of the National Institute of Estate

Surveyors and Valuers who is also the chairmanship candidate of the

party for Njikoka Local Government area, Chief Emeka Onuorah, he

described it as frivolous. He stated that, “as you can see, you met me

at a rally. We have been intensifying on our campaigns and tours and

consultations in preparation for the Jan 11, 2014 council election in

the state.”

He pointed our that some parties have reportedly thrown in the towel,

while some including the PDP, the Accord and LP amongst others have

been preparing too. “The APGA has displayed from the just concluded

governorship election that it is very popular with the landslide

victory it recorded. We are set for the council poll and has no reason

to play any undemocratic card…”, Onuorah noted.

Another chieftain from Idemili North, Chief Maurice Ebo, also wished

the LP allegation away, saying it was coming from ill-prepared

candidates and parties, pointing out that the officials in charge of

the ANSIEC were experienced and have repeatedly informed the

electorate and candidates that everything that should be done have

been done.

Chief Ebo described the voting pattern as seen in the Nov 16, 2013

governorship election really show that APGA will sweep the stakes in

every other election in the state any time. He urged anyone nursing

apprehensions or fears to assured of the fair disposition of the

party, or they would seek redress in a court at any time.

The PDP went through the whole hug of democratic opinion seeking to

ensure the candidates made the choice of either participating or not

themselves. The PDP chairman, Ken Emeakayi on his return from an

emergency meeting at the party headquarters in Abuja Wednesday called

a meeting of all the party’s chairmanship and councillorship

candidates. He asked them to decide on their own whether to

participate or not. They chose to go ahead, at least to close that

chapter of their lives that had remained in the limbo since 2001,

having spent so much on it.

And in June last year, just like he did some days ago, the embattled

chairman of ANSIEC, Prof Titus Eze sent out a shrill word of caution

to all stakeholders to the council poll in the state for them to be

legally guided and notified that participants in the Jan 11,2014

election should note that his pending cases over the chairman seat of

the commission and the manner of his removal has a direct bearing to

the process.

Sounding like a caveat emptor, Eze’s caution stated that his suit

which was slated for judgement on Jan 16, 2012 was caught up in the

web of the petroleum subsidy crises then and has ever since suffered

indefinite hiccups. He accused the state government of using all

manner of undemocratic tactics to frustrate the progress of the suit.

The government had on resumption of the suit after the subsidy crises

introduced a new motion accusing the presiding Justice Hope Ozo of

bias, hence has no more faith in him. They then applied for transfer

of the case to another court.

They also noted that they were not properly served the hearing notice,

and since their earlier motion was overruled, they therefore rushed to

the Court of Appeal in Enugu to file a stay of proceedings. Since then

the case had remained in the limbo. It spent 6 months for

reassignment, which later came and it landed on Justice Iguh’s court

where it has remained without a hearing date till now. Apparently

frustrated, Eze later went to the Federal High Court seeking an

injunction to stop the scheduled Jan 11, 2014 election in keeping with

the earlier guarantee by the state’s Attorney General and Commissioner

for Justice, that no action would be taken by the government or the

state Assembly which would negatively affect him, his position at

ANSIEC or the suit.

The acting chairman of the commission, Mr Sylvester Okonkwo, disclosed

the readiness of the commission for the council election while playing

host to the Movement for the Conduct of Local Government Election at

the commission’s headquarter in Awka. He said that there was enough

logistics to carry the commission through the exercise successfully.

Earlier, one Chief Udo Udeogaranya, a governorship aspirant in the Nov

16, 2013 election had also forwarded an open letter to President

Goodluck Jonathan and the INEC to impress on Gov Obi to postpone the

council election before the governorship election, claiming it was

“ill-timed electoral time line  and thereby prompting distractions and

heating up the polity unnecessarily”.

He pointed out that elections in a proper democratic terms refers to

giving equal opportunity, awareness, incentives and fair share of time

for preparation, and therefore “beclouds all norms of intelligence for

a democratically elected State Governor to wait almost eight years, a

few days to the end of Governor Obi’s tenure in office, before

realising that the third tier of government deserves democracy.

“As a former political party chairman, no party can come up with

credible candidates, both Chairmen and Vice Chairmen with their

councillors, running into hundreds, to represent them in Local council

election, given the time frame allotted by Governor Obi to the

election.

“As one who grew from political foot soldiering under Zik’s NPP party

and a believer in grassroots politics, I cannot in anyway be against

conduct of election at the local council level or deepening democracy

at the grassroots level… Therefore the election must be postponed

and be conducted by the incoming administration, if the election must

achieve some level of credibility” , Chief Udo Udeogaranya.


LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here