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Anambra South Senatorial Bye-election: A test case of Governor Obi’s popularity (or lack of it).

January 14, 2009
As the fire-works of the May 2007 elections rages on via the courts now, the Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu in its judgment delivered on December 18, 2008 nullified the election of Mr Ikechukwu Obiora of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in a petition instituted by the APGA candidate, Hon Azuka Okwuosa for the Anambra South Senatorial Constituency and urged INEC to conduct another election in the zone within 90 days, having agreed with the judgment of the election tribunal that sat in Awka that the election was marred by irregularities.

INEC has fixed January 24, 2009 as the date for the bye-election and the test case here is: PDP Vs APGA. For these two parties are the main contestants in this bye-election. All other parties for the purpose of this election are irrelevant. PDP claims to have won the last election in Anambra state and have all the House of Assembly, all the House of Representatives (except one) and all the Senatorial seats in its kitty. APGA on the other hand claimed to have been rigged out of the election by PDP in cahoots with INEC for the state executive is APGA led. Hence this is a must win election for either PDP or APGA in readiness for 2010 when the state gubernatorial election is up for grabs.

PDP currently claim to be the only party on the ground in Anambra state and this claim, non-partisan speaking, is true: PDP is the only party that has representation in all wards, local governments and zones in the state. That is why PDP has been clamouring for local government elections in the state for it is the party’s belief that it will win it, in as much as the election will be organised by an APGA led executive. But as a seasoned politocrat, my view – informed from speaking to the electorates – is that PDP can never win an election in Anambra state bar rigging and Chris Ngige factor i.e. Chris Ngige returning to PDP. However, the Chris Ngige factor is an issue for another day for the sake of this article.

Norman Tebbit, the seasoned UK politician once said that “Opposition parties do not win an election but rather the party in power loose the election”. This may be true in a free and fair election. But in Nigeria, election outcomes are decided by rigging; period. It is much easier to rig an election conducted nation-wide as was the case in the May 2007 elections than a localised and one-off senatorial bye-election that will be the case in Anambra state for the Anambra South senatorial seat. For in a nation-wide election, anti-rigging resources like election monitors, security operatives, etc are over stretched and thin on the ground but in a localised bye-election, anti-rigging resources are in abundance and the in this case, the APGA led Anambra state government should be able to provide abundant resources (that is at its disposal) to make sure that this election is free and fair. In effect, what I am saying is that there is no reason why this bye-election cannot be reasonably fair play.

From the above paragraph, it crystal clear that this election is for APGA to loose rather than PDP to win. However, APGA is not on the ground and thanks to Governor Peter Obi. There are no APGA representation at ward, local government and zonal levels in the state.

Developmental projects has remained comatose in the state since Chris Ngige left office and Governor Obi stepped in, irrespective of Governor Obi’s rhetoric on the paid pages of Nigerian newspapers and other media outfits. A visit to the state attests to this statement of fact. Onitsha, the principal city in the state can vie for the dirtiest city in Nigeria. Awka and Nnewi fare no better. There are no pipe-borne water in the state: pure water is the order of the day. Education and associated infrastructures are non-existent: a visit to Nnobi Boys High School, Nnobi and Ideani Girls Secondary School, Ideani amongst other schools buttresses this statement of fact. As over-populated as Lagos state is and with its underlying structural problems that will require divine intervention to overcome, the Lagos state government has managed to a great extent to sanitise its traffic management system via LASTMA, this is not the case in Anambra state: a visit to Bridge Head, Upper Iweka road both in Onitsha and Nkwo Nnewi in Nnewi depicts a breakdown of governance in the state.

In fact, the government is asleep in Anambra state. This is the reason APGA is shying away from local government elections and PDP baying for blood. This is the reason PDP thinks it may win the state come 2010. The APGA candidate, Hon Azuka Okwuosa is a more seasoned and people oriented politician than the PDP candidate, Ikechukwu Obiora. But more importantly, the Anambra South senatorial seat is the Ikemba Nnewi’s constituency. Ikemba Nnewi is the leader of APGA. Had Peter Obi been a dynamic governor, the election will be a no contest. But he is not and his faction of APGA led by the nincompoop political jobber in the name of Victor Umeh is equally comatose. A Chekwas Okorie led APGA would have fared much better irrespective of Governor Obi’s serious limitations as a state chief executive. This is the reason that the outcome of the Anambra South senatorial bye-election will be a test of Governor’s Obi popularity or lack of it.

It will be a pity that Anambra state may loose fine representation in the senate in the person of Hon Azuka Okwuosa due to Governor Obi’s shortcomings. Nevertheless, according to the erstwhile British Prime Minister, the late Harold Macmillan: “A week is a long time in politics”. It is still more than a week to go before this bye-election takes place.

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