As the much-awaited Anambra governorship election gets underway this weekend, there are some issues I would like to give a last-minute touch in the interest of the state and Nigeria. The Peter Obi factor and the need for the Independent National Electoral commission (INEC), to ensure that a level playing ground is provided for all the contestants are uppermost in my mind. The success or failure of the election will largely depend on INEC’s performance. Then, there is also the need for President Muhammadu Buhari to avoid heightening the tension in Anambra by venturing a belated visit at this injury time. The president should stand for peace.
Uzordimma Nzeribe’s outburst on ex-Governor Peter Obi in the back page of The Sun newspaper of Thursday, November 9, 2017, spurred me to take a closer look at the Peter Obi factor in the on-going electioneering campaign in the state. The ex-governor pitched his tent with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Mr. Oseloka Obaze, while the incumbent Governor Willie Obiano is his mentee.
I must state from the outset that Peter Obi is a very patriotic Igbo politician, whom, I know, wouldn’t like to undermine Igbo interest, no matter what. That being the case, I am inclined to believe that even though the ex-Governor Obi may be in PDP bodily, his spirit is still in the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), from where his soul incarnated politically. The orchestrated misunderstanding between him and the incumbent Governor Obiano is not enough to uproot him from, according to the Igbo, where his umbilical cord is buried. His spirit will continue to materialize in the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
In the said newspaper publication, Mr. Nzeribe, apparently, vexed by the support of Obi for the PDP, against his bosom friend, the obviously active and performing incumbent Governor Willie Obiano, lampooned Obi for goading ndi Igbo into what he called a mess. Nzeribe did not mince words in pouring out the litany of Obi’s sins, and I am sure that he could go on and on if not for constraint of space. I am not here to help Nzeribe; he doesn’t seem to need anybody’s help. He seems to have all the facts and figures at his finger tips, part of which he has already marshaled out in the newspaper.
For instance, Nzeribe is perplexed that at a time when Obi, who benefitted immensely from the APGA, as governor, for eight years, ought to join forces with Obiano, whom he mentored, to strengthen the only political platform through which the South-East zone could remain relevant in Nigeria, he, instead, turned around to work to destroy the party and indeed, ndi Igbo, because of a personal ill-feeling against Obiano. Nzeribe feels that Obi should have forgiven his brother, especially, after he reportedly rendered a public apology to him. Whether it is morally expedient for Obi to now pitch his tent against Obiano is left to critical minds to judge.
My aim, actually, is to ask to what extent the Obi factor is significant in the governorship election campaign since he (Obi) is not contesting but is merely a supporter. Several other prominent Anambra sons and daughters including the Obi of Onitsha, HRM Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe and former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Professor Chukwuma Soludo have endorsed Obiano for a second term that has a lot of prospects for the state. The general perception of the people is that Obiano has done well and deserves a second term. It is only the opposition that think otherwise, which, in any case, doesn’t fly.
The situation would have been different if Obi is still in power or is a contestant. But that is not the case. I would like Obi to contest at the federal level and we all will campaign and vote for him. Granted that Obi is known to be straightforward and prudent manager, that is all for him. But the fact that he is not contesting in the election and is not in power waters down his support for the PDP.
Four years ago, precisely in 2014, when Obi was in power, he wielded much political influence, which was why he could pick and helped install Obiano as governor. That time, he had all the paraphernalia of government in his power to deploy and achieve his aim.
But that is not the case now. The situation has changed. The seat of government is now occupied by Obiano, whose turn it is to employ all the paraphernalia of government to leverage his re-election. The ex-Governor is fighting from outside. As such, it would be misconception for anybody to vote anybody simply because of Obi’s support. The same people will be disappointed when the person doesn’t act like Obi. Just as the demon challenged the seven sons of Sceva (Acts 19:13) with, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” In the same vein, Obiano we know; Obi we know; but who is the other man?
Having said that, I would like to turn to INEC whose performance would either make or mar the election. There is no doubt that the success of the election will largely depend on INEC. The experience of past elections in Rivers, Ekiti, Osun and Imo is not commendable. Beginning with logistics, the election materials should arrive at the designated venues on time. There should be no delay, or lack or inadequacy of the election materials at polling booths as that would increase tension.
The card reader should work. Adequate security should be provided for voters. All the media channels in the state should be mobilized to encourage the electorate to come out en masse and vote without fear or intimidation, especially, now that IPOB says it will not disrupt the election. We don’t want inconclusive election. Above all, INEC should ensure a level playing ground for all contestants. There should be no favouritism by INEC officials, the police, army or any other arm of security that has any duty to perform.
Finally, the speculation that Buhari may storm Anambra State to support the APC candidate, Tony Nwoye is ominous. In all honesty, the move is uncalled for and ill-timed at this injury time. The president cannot afford to ignite fire on the fragile peace in Anambra State. Anambra State is only one out of the 36 states in the country. Buhari should refuse to be pressurized to do anything that could spark crisis that has the capacity to engulf the entire South-East with spill over to other states in the country.