The Anambra election have come and gone with the incumbent, Dr Willie Obiano, the candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, winning in all 21 Local Government Area of the State. He had a total 234,471 votes and was followed by the APC, All Progressive Congress, candidate, Tony Nwoye, with about 98,752 votes. Oseloke Obaze of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, came third with a total number of 70,293 votes. About 2,158, 171 registered voters, the largest in the history of the state, was recorded but this, for so many reasons, didn’t reflect in the election results. Before November 18th, the election day, the governor had complained of the removal of his security details and after so much noise, the Senate urged the Inspector General of Police, who thought he knew better, to recall them. The Indigenous People Of Biafra, IPOB, some months back, had told the people to boycott the election and some obliged. The military had an aggressive dance in the east a month before the time and all these contributed in the low turn out.
But what are the lessons to be learned from the Anambra election? What can we learn from the low turn out experienced? Are we going to pretend that their is nothing shocking in over two million registered voters presenting a total vote not above 600 thousand? Some persons even suggested that the total figures, as little as they are, was exaggerated through some malpractice. Their were stories and evidence of vote selling and buying perpetrated by respective party agents and affiliates. The PDP stood at the echelon of the wailing on that matter. Their was no good defense either as we got from the country’s Liar In-Chief, Lai Mohammed. He simply responded that the government is powerless over that issue and the President deserves some commendation for refusing to rig an election he had the power to rig. Troubling! What lessons are their to be learned on the subject of money in Nigerian elections? What role could money play in the 2019 elections? What is the essence of boycotting an election on such large scale and was the message relayed? What can we learn on the progress of our electoral system? Are we getting better or just there?
Money Still Rules
To a certain degree, once you have money, you have the electorates. This has always been the story. The hunger in the land is so severe that the people are willing to trade their future for a loaf of bread. The hunger is paused for a few hours and the people initiated into deeper streams of recession. The same person whose actions led to the starvation of the people arrives in election period sharing gifts like Santa Claus. This was what happened in the Anambra election. The same thing was witnessed in the last gubernatorial elections in Edo State. To a certain degree, money still rules. The only place where it is not possible is where the people have a general perception and definition of the candidate. Once the candidate is not in the ugly book of the people money can easily be exchanged for votes, or better put, their future. At dawn, when the little money they traded with is exhausted, reality begins to step in. The highest bidder always wins and the one who lost the bid develops a new sense of morality like we saw when the PDP complained. It is not because they have an agape love for the people but because they didn’t expect to be at the bottom of the buying chain.
IPOB Still Exists
Some months back, before the disappearance of Nnamdi Kanu and the ugly military dance in the east, the Indigenous People Of Biafra, IPOB, told her supporters to sit at home on the day of the election. Though people like Lai Mohammed, will love to interpret the success of the election on the defeat of the troublesome IPOB, it will be mischievous to pretend the low turn out does not show sympathy for the group. IPOB exists in the hearts of some of the people of that state and they showed it in their refusal to partake in the Anambra election. Some uploaded photos of merriment as they designated the day ‘Ofe Nsala Day’. Whether they made a point is not the problem, the issue is whether the people got it or understood the point. And by the people, I mean both the Nigerians who consider the dissolution of this country abominable and the ones who just want any working thing. The truth is, the attention has already shifted from the group since the men on camouflage did their thing and this exercise, even though evident in the results, was not aggressive enough to be seen or understood by the people the message was meant for. Because the majority of the people need something aggressive to pay attention, like Kanu insulting everyone and calling his country a zoo, only few would strain their minds to see the spirit of IPOB lurking in the background. Those who expected violence from the group were disappointed too because there was no room for that.
Soldiers Still In Civil Matters
Their is no point involving the military in all our elections. A court declared this unconstitutional but it seems we’ve got leaders who don’t have respect for court order, believe in the competence of other civil security outfits or willing to equip them for the task at hand. We are not at war and neither are we savages. In the just concluded Anambra election, the military were, as usual, involved in keeping the peace. We don’t need soldiers on Nigerian streets were war is not happening. If our police and other security outfits cannot handle criminals, kidnappers and troublemakers, their is no point keeping them in the first place. The Anambra election is a civilian matter and doesn’t call for militarising the place. The same thing has been happening across the country and our leaders have not deemed it fit to equip the police with whatever skills needed to execute elections peacefully. The capture of three IPOB members, printing pamphlets meant to discourage people from going out to vote, does not require any special training. It is something the police can do. It is high time we equipped the police with all the materials necessary to succeed and oversee a free election. The soldier is trained to kill and bringing him in a civil matter is more like threatening the voters to misbehave. A good country is not run on fear or intimidation.
INEC Needs To Improve
In the last Presidential election we had a situation where the sitting President, Goodluck Jonathan, tried multiple times before the Card Reader could read his prints. Problems of malfunctioning and broken card readers, delay in transporting the electoral materials to their respective polling units and delay in collation and announcement of the results, witnessed in 2015, were also recorded in the Anambra election. Nothing seems to have been corrected. It seems like these problems were taken note of, the devices packed up and simply reused in the next election without any updating or rebranding of the system. That is what it seems. If anything was done, it did not reflect enough to be considered positive change. The INEC Chief Press Secretary, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, in response said: “from the reports we got from the field, only about 95 out of the 6,200 Card Readers deployed had issues.” That’s worrisome! Before the Returnee Officer and Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar, Professor Zana Akpagu, announced the results in Awka, tensions were already mounting on the reason for the delay. The commission has to device a way to collate and announce the results immediately the elections are done with. A system that collates the results as they come in is not rocket science or impossible.