Anayo Okolie, reports on the increasing popularity of the United Progressive Party ahead of the governorship election in Anambra State
â€œThe tiger caresses its cobs with its powerful canine but tears down the enemy with the same powerful canine.â€ With those poetic words, the national chairman of United Progressive Party, Chief Chekwas Okorie, handed over the three instruments with which Chief Osita Chidoka commenced the quest for victory at the Anambra State governorship election slated for November 18 on the platform of UPP.
Okorie said regarding Chidoka , â€œThe journey he is commencing now and what we have is the journey of the tiger. He looks every inch a tiger. He will protect the assets of Anambra people. He will make Anambra develop, jobs will be created. But the enemies of Anambra, beware. The tiger is the king of the jungle.â€
Okorie handed Chidoka the Certificate of Return from the party declaring him the rightful winner of the August 19 primaries held in Awka, the Independent National Electoral Commissionâ€™s form CF-001, and the INEC nomination form. The handover of the electoral instruments to the UPP governorship candidate took place at a ceremony at the partyâ€™s secretariat in Abuja. It was witnessed by party chieftains.
Level Playing Field
Okorie reiterated his call for a level playing field during the ceremony in Abuja. He has always believed in an electoral atmosphere of equity and fair play, where the electorate are allowed to vote for the candidate of their choice in a transparent process devoid of inducement or intimidation. This, certainly, calls for proactive steps on the parts of INEC, to ensure a free and fair poll, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, to eliminate the corruptive influence of money during the election.
â€œI wish to appeal to the Independent National Electoral Commission to, please, comply with the promises they made to political party leaders, the promises they made to media chiefs, which they assembled differently, the promises they made to pro-democracy and donor agencies, and that is that the Anambra governorship election will be conducted with an upgraded card reader that will transmit results direct from the polling units to the central server,â€ the UPP national chairman stated.
He stressed, â€œThat was the promise that was made to all of us. And it was demonstrated before us and we all acclaimed it, acknowledged it and applauded it, because for the first time, the ordinary Nigerians, the voters, the electorate in Anambra State, will be granted the opportunity to, indeed, choose who their governor will be.
â€œOnce that is done, we are home and dry. Then, I wish to also recommend, if only for the Anambra election, the EFCC should be part of the monitoring team. I say this because in 2013, we were also in that governorship election in Anambra State.
â€œWe saw people carry sacks of money close to polling stations and were paying N5, 000. They induced to vote for a particular political party. But when the attention of the police was drawn to this anomaly, the police, who had obviously been compromised, said that they were invited to maintain law and order and were not invited to chase people who were carrying money.
â€œBecause there is a limit to the amount of money anybody can carry at a particular point in time, and that falls within the purview of the EFCC, I, therefore, recommend that the EFCC should be incorporated into the monitoring agencies, so that these malfeasances and perfidy will not be allowed to repeat itself.â€
The UPP candidate was optimistic. He saw bright prospects of his victory at the poll on November 18. Chidoka, a former Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Commission and ex-Minister of Aviation, believes UPP represents the best option for calming the multifarious agitations in different parts of the country arising from disenchantment with the ruling class on the part of the masses. He believes credible elections and the emergence of the peopleâ€™s choices in free and fair polls would help to eliminate the suspicions that often cause restiveness.
Chidoka lamented what he called the woeful crash of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, which had been formed by Okorie as a means of achieving the vision of credible polls and credible representatives of the people.
According the former FRSC boss, â€œIn 2003, Chief Chekwas Okorie founded the All Progressive Grand Alliance on the idea that all the grievances of Ndi-Igbo would be channelled through a political party to engage the rest of the country. Unfortunately, that dream was betrayed. APGA became an electoral vehicle meant for the election of people whose desires and interests are the maximisation of their personal capacity and the denunciation of the people. That is why today, APGA as a party has no position, neither does the government of Anambra State, on the agitation for the actualisation of Biafra by Ndi Igbo. They have no position on the issue of restructuring of the country. They have worked with PDP and they are willing to work with APC. APGA as a party is adrift and we want to send it to its final funeral and on this mission, we have the full backing of the Anambra people.
â€œThe reason why we have to do that is because we want to help Nigeria as a country to re-channel Igbo anger, to re-channel Igbo energy towards building a nation that works for everybody, towards building a country that accommodates all, towards building a country that all the constituent parts are able to join freely to build a great nation.â€
Promise of Prosperity
Chidoka said if elected, his government would build a knowledge economy in the state and develop its hi-tech and information technology capacities. He said he would enhance the ingenious attributes that made the Igbo the driving force of the Nigerian economy and a reference point internationally.
He said, â€œI want to send a message today to the people of Anambra State. Number one, Anambra State is about to start a new beginning. The journey of this tiger is the journey of a new beginning; a new beginning that will make sure that Anambra State is truly the home for all, in Nigeria and in Igboland, a journey that will make it possible for Anambra people to come back again and own their state.
â€œNo more shall Anambra people be voting for people who are sponsored by forces who are not the people contesting the election. No more shall Anambra State be ruled by people whose major interest and whose efforts in the state are to line their pockets and the pockets of their party members. But more importantly, no more shall Anambra State be ruled by an ideologically vacuous bankrupt and backward party, but by the known ideology of our people, the ideology of Ndigbo, the ideology of uche, of uchu na egwu chukwu, the ideology of the restoration of our homeland, the rebuilding of our capacity as a people; the ideology of self-determination and right to determine our role in Nigeria, the ideology of building a nation where no man is oppressed, the ideology of re-enacting our peopleâ€™s hopes and aspirations, the desire to be part of a country where they are recognised as a free constituent of the country and where they are not relegated to being a mere five per cent and 95 per cent.
â€œLet it be known that today, the United Progressive Party has come to restore the Igbo voice in Nigeria. The United Progressive Party has come to give hope to our people. The United Progressive Party has come to end the cries emanating from our people.
â€œSo, the election in Anambra is not a referendum on the failed government that is existing in Anambra, it is a referendum on our future and I stand here today to say that any vote for UPP is a vote for the future of ndi Anambra, is a vote for the future of ndi Igbo.â€
Chidoka said, â€œOur greatest resource is our human beings,â€ and promised that his government would harness this rich human potential to make Anambra great.
â€œOur economy as a people is bigger than our geography. We will not be constrained by our geography. We will not be constrained by the forces that have held us down before. For, we will go out to meet the world, not with anger, not with just agitation, but with knowledge and pride in our heritage.â€
Chidoka accused the incumbent governor, Chief Willie Obiano, of lack of performance on virtually all fronts.
While inaugurating his campaign office for Orumba North and South local governments, he said, â€œOur people have had enough. Ndi Anambra cannot continue to be under a government without a conscience and a sense of responsibility towards the people; a government that has over time failed to stand up for the people when the occasion demands, yet continue with impunity. Our people are our greatest assets and deserve a government that upholds their interests and values.â€
Chidoka and UPP have continued to grow in popularity in Anambra State and beyond. He says he respects the Biafran spirit of industry and standing up against oppression and marginalisation. But Chidoka is not on the same page with the groups advocating a territorial Biafra. He believes an egalitarian Nigeria is what the Igbo need to develop their rich potential for their own good and the good of the wider Nigerian society.
An Awka resident, Chibuzor Nwafor, said, â€œAs far as the masses of Anambra State are concerned, Chidoka is the most popular candidate in the coming governorship election. We only pray and hope that the moneybags and Abuja influence peddlers would allow us exercise our freewill on November 18.