25th November, 2013
By Joe Igbokwe
On Monday November 4 2013 I wrote a piece titled Anambra 2013: What We Expect From INEC. In that piece I reminded that Anambra State is a peculiar State with a peculiar problem, a State where business men want to control business as well as government house, a state where cash can be used to purchase anything including government offices, a state where people without brains try to dictate where to go and where not to go, a state where great men have gone to sleep, leaving the political landscape for babies.
In that piece I reminded Prof Attahiru Jega of the experience of former Governor of Benue State, His Excellency Gabriel Suswan when he was asked by PDP to come and conduct a delegate congress of the party in Anambra. After the congress former Governor Suswan threw bomb to Anambra people. Hear this: “Anambra people have no shame. I had to bring 326 people from Benue state to come and conduct the congress, nowhere else in this federation would such a thing happen except in Anambra. It is a shame. Anambra is a different issue altogether. They do not want sanity to prevail or anything genuine, the first ugly experience was that some aspirants would offer anything. One even offered to give me 1 billion Naira cash that evening. I decided and even felt angry as such desperation. I can see why nothing seems to be working out here. Once it is 7pm everyone runs to their homes like fowls. There is no place of interest, sightseeing or nightlife. It is very unfortunate”
This is a very painful indictment to the people of Anambra state where I come from and I swallowed the shame and brought it before Professor Jega for INEC to know where they are going. For record purposes let me reproduce here what I told Professor Jega:
“Now what will INEC do to succeed in Anambra? From all indications the world knows that PDP is not prepared for the Governorship elections in Anambra State. The suspicion that PDP is working with the ruling party, APGA is no longer news. We see nothing wrong in that but the truth is that the opposition parties have to be prepared to face PDP and the full weight of the Federal Government. Another factor that proved our thinking beyond reasonable doubts is the romance between Governor Obi and President Goodluck Jonathan and it is all geared towards the November 16 elections. Therefore we fear that the Federal Government will use the Federal security agencies to intimidate the opposition and this is our greatest fear. We saw it in Ondo State during the Guber elections, as the army, police, SSS were deployed to serve the Mimiko’s Labour Party. Many were injured, maimed and killed. This must not happen in Anambra State.
Another information we are getting from reliable and competent sources is how INEC officers will deny the opposition strong hold electoral materials and push the material to the strong hold of the ruling party. For example, where there are 600 registered voters in the opposition green zones the officers will bring 250 Ballot Papers just to disenfranchise and weaken the oppostion. The balance are now thumb-printed somewhere else and imported into the ballot boxes of the ruling Party APGA. This must not happen in Anambra and INEC must ensure it never happens.
Opposition parties want a free and fair elections and the winner must win honorably and responsibly too. Anything short of this will be unacceptable to the people of Anambra State. INEC has only Anambra elections to contend with on November 16, 2013 and it must not fail Nigerians. Police, Army or any other security agencies can be used but they must be there to ensure that law and order is maintained and they must be neutral. I want INEC to prepare for this election because it is going to be a fore-test of what will happen in 2015. Case Rested!
Now all the things APC predicted at the national level and what I told Jega’s INEC came to pass. Had Jega’s INEC knew the State they were going to probably we would not have been entangled in this electoral mess today. Two days to election a chieftain of PDP from Uga area in the State converted his home in Awka to a voting centre. For two nights they were thumb printing ballot papers and nobody fished them out. Before the elections associates of some politicians and businessmen who do not like the audacity and courage of Dr Chris Ngige told us in confidence that Ngige will only get two LGAs out of 21. In the evening of Saturday November 16 2013 they started calling us and bragged that they have done what they promised. I want Jega to probe this criminality. We need to scrutinize every single vote cast on November 16 2013.
To all intents and purposes I am stunned that critical stakeholders, leaders of thought, clerics, the academia, the professionals etc are keeping quiet in Anambra, thinking that the fraud of November will just fizzle out. A story that must be told never forgives silence. I have heard some well-to-do people asking APC to let the sleeping dog lie but we understand this game. Now everybody is talking about peace but nobody is talking about justice.
Prof. Attahiru Jega owes Nigeria a duty to courageously tell the world what happened in Anambra on November 16 2013. Did INEC prepare very well for the elections? Did INEC officials betray INEC, Nigeria and Anambra people? Was the Voters’ Register doctored 48hrs before the elections? Did any staff of INEC run away with Result Sheets? Were Voting Materials diverted, and to where? Who and who did this to Ndi Anambra? Did the police do their job or did they compromise? I can go on and on but there is no need to continue.
Lord Stephenson warned that “An election which is conducted in violation of the principles of an election by ballot is no real election and therefore should be declared null and void without any effect”
INEC must not hide anything for the sake of Nigeria and 2015. If we cannot organize an election in one State out of 36 States in Nigeria then something is wrong somewhere. If INEC cannot handle Anambra elections then I can confidently say that it cannot do same even in a local government in Nigeria. INEC has the capacity to know whether what happened on November 16 was an election or no election. If Prof Jega finds out that things went wrong in such a way that the fraud cannot stand, he should have the courage to call for a repeat of the entire process. This is our irreducible minimum demand.
•Igbokwe wrote from Lagos