- IGP deploys 26,000 officers and men PDP charges INEC, security agencies on fairness
David-Chyddy Eleke and, Christopher Isiguzo in Awka and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Who wins Saturday’s governorship election in Anambra State? Will incumbent governor Willy Obiano of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) get a second term? Or will he be upstaged by either Oseloka Obaze of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP); or Tony Nwoye of the All Progressives Congress (APC)? and of course, Osita Chidoka of the United Peoples Party (UPP) is also in the race even though his chances are improbable.
The stakes are quite high. Obiano’s APGA is desperate to retain the only state it controls in Nigeria, while the APC wants to extend its presence in the South-east with a victory in today’s poll. For the PDP, this is an opportunity to recover a state it once controlled during the Obasanjo era. Chidoka is aiming to make a statement by contesting under the relatively unknown UPP.
As a result of these high stakes, tension remained very high across Anambra State as the voters prepare to troop out this morning to determine their next governor for another four years.
Observers have said that today’s election would serve as a pointer to what would happen in 2019 when the country would hold its general election.
Commissioner of Police, Anambra State Command, Garba Umar is assuring voters that his men will provide security and that they should feel free to go out and vote.
“I have enough men to counter whatever plan any group comes up with to disrupt today’s election,” Umar declared yesterday.
The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris had earlier revealed that 26,000 police officers would be deployed from outside the state to help its men in Anambra to ensure peace and security in the state.
The Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps had also revealed that 11,000 of its men would be in the state to ensure peace, while sniffer dogs, drones, helicopters would also be deployed.
Men of the Nigerian Navy would also be around to ensure security in the riverine areas of the state.
A visit to INEC headquarters yesterday evening revealed a large deployment of police officers at the commission.
Meanwhile, there was heavy human and vehicular movement into Anambra State on Thursday and Friday. This may not be unconnected to the announcement of the restriction of movement in the state from 12am today.
Today’s election would be most intriguing because it would be the first time 37 will be contesting for one seat.
How the People may Vote…
Several factors will sway the votes of the people today. First is the recent zoning arrangement in the state, which stipulated that for the sake of equity and justice, there was need to let the northern senatorial zone serve out its two term, before power rotates to the southern zone.
Obiano hails from the northern zone, and in the spirit of the zoning arrangement, most other political parties, except a few, decided to choose their candidate from the northern zone. For example, Tony Nwoye of APCA and Oseloka Obaze of PDP both hail from the northern zone.
To further buttress respect for the zoning arrangement, Obaze has promised that he would serve only one term to complete the two terms of the northern zone, in order to move power to the South.
Another determinant for the people will vote is the performance of the incumbent governor. While opposition parties insist that the governor has performed abysmally, members of the APGA insist that Obiano has met his campaign promises to the people.
They insist that security, which has eluded Anambra for several years has been restored, and kidnappers, armed robbers and other criminal gangs that had operated freely in broad day light, had been effectively tackled by Obiano.
They also rate him high in infrastructure where he has one signature protect or more in all the 177 communities of the state, through the donation N20 million and N40 million to them for what he called choose-your-project initiative.
The political parties in contest may also form the basis of the choice of voters. While some believe that APGA remains the only thing the Igbos have politically, others said there was need for Anambra to connect to the national greed to enjoy full dividends of democracy.
To others, the perceived marginalization of Ndigbo by the APC-led federal government would be a good reason to stick to APGA or try other political parties.
Meanwhile, the PDP is also working to stage a major comeback, using Anambra as a spring board for 2019 general election.
Fear of Federal Might/Rigging
The fear remains that the federal government might bring its might to bear, to ensure victory for its political party and the candidate. Two weeks earlier, there had been allegation of the interception of electoral materials in a hotel in Awka. While the APC pointed fingers at the APGA, APGA on its part insisted that the APC was responsible for the intercepted materials.
Also, the recent removal of the security details of the state governor was viewed as a fore taste of what to expect in the actual election. Director General of the Obiano campaign organization, Chief Victor Umeh has condemned the act, saying that any attempt to rig the Anambra election would not be accepted.
Chidoka too has expressed the same fears. The UPP candidate who held a rally to wrap up his campaigns in Onitsha said: “As we go to the poll on Saturday, we want to sound it loud and clear that any attempt by anybody whatsoever to subvert the will of Ndi Anambra will be met with stiff resistance. Nobody can intimidate us; we will make sure that our voters vote, that the votes are protected, that the votes count and that the result reflects only the will of Anambra people. God being by our side, we are already victorious.”
Former governor of the state, and a member of the elders council of the state, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife while speaking to journalists also warned that any candidate who allows himself to be rigged into power will not be allowed to govern the state.
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has stuck to its gun that it would boycott the election. The group in several press statements signed by its media and publicity secretary, Emma Powerful has continually insisted that it would not participate in the election.
PDP Charges INEC, Security Agencies on Fairness
Meanwhile, the PDP has INEC and security agents to ensure a credible governorship election in Anambra State today.
The party which said that was prepared and ready for a fair electoral election urged INEC and security agencies deployed to be neutral in their conduct.
In a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Dayo Adeyeye on, PDP said today’s election was a litmus test for INEC on its ability to conduct credible election.
The opposition party also said that it was another opportunity for APC-led federal government to redeem itself from “the culture of impunity, inconclusive elections and rigging as exhibited in previous elections in Edo, Ondo and other by-elections in the country.
“We urge the electorate in Anambra to vote and stay to protect their votes from polling units to the collation centers in order to scuttle the planned replacement of Authentic Results Sheet by the APC.
“Finally, we call on all election monitors and observers to maintain vigilance during the period of the Election. The success of our electoral processes depends largely on the hard-work of observers and monitors exposing election riggers and vote theft,” PDP said.
We’re ready for Guber poll say Anambra Residents…
In a related development, residents of Anambra State have expressed readiness to take part in the election despite threats by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
This came as Awka, the state capital remained busy on yesterday as politicians continued to put finishing touches to their readiness for today’s election.
Also, ThisDay checks revealed that INEC had started moving sensitive materials to the local government areas.
A cross section of residents who spoke with ThisDay said they were already in high spirit for the election, dismissing calls for its boycott by IPOB as totally misplaced.
“Those talking about boycotting the election are the real enemies of Ndi Anambra. They are being sponsored to cause confusion so as to attract declaration of State of Emergency.
“We’ll not accept it. Our people are ready for the election. We are going to turn out in our numbers tomorrow,” Chief Amos Nnadozie, a shop owner at Aroma junction, Awka said.
On her part, Mrs. Cecilia Okeke said Ndi Anambra were ready for the election but however asked the INEC to ensure that the poll was credible, free and fair.
“You can see we are ready but the news in town is that they want to rig it. We will resist such sharp practices. They must conduct free and fair election,” she stated.
When ThisDay visited INEC Headquarters in Awka, it was discovered that several luxurious buses had conveyed adhoc staff trained to handle the exercise from Enugu.