A Pig in a Poke


Anambra State Independent Electoral Commission summons political parties to an interactive meeting but fails to disclose the real intention of the gathering

By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Aug. 19, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

THE scheduling of local government elections in Anambra State, on October 5, has been faulted by the opposition parties in the state. They argue that the decision by Peter Obi, governor of the state, to conduct the elections ahead of the forthcoming gubernatorial election and barely eight months to the end of his tenure, is very suspicious. Many of them, expressed shock with the governor’s u-turn, coming in the twilight of his administration and timed to play down on the gubernatorial election.

Nnanyelugo Okoye, a People’s Democratic Party, PDP, stalwart in Awka, described the move as an ill-wind and added that one does not need to look far to see the real reasons for this sudden change of mind at the concluding part of his administration. According to him, first, he wants to use the proposed elections to install his stooges at the local government level for the purposes of rigging the forthcoming gubernatorial election. Otherwise, how would the average Anambra man make sense of this desperation to do, within six, months what he couldn’t do for almost eight years?

According to him, this diabolical design becomes more worrisome when one realizes that Governor Obi has been the greatest beneficiary of due democratic process in this dispensation. “Governor Obi has depleted his electoral goodwill with bad leadership and consequently will definitely not deliver a free and fair local government election. We, therefore, urge Anambra people not to be deceived by this last act of a varnishing governor who is desperately struggling to install stooges that will cover his ugly past,” he said.

The chairmen of some political parties in the state believe that the Governor Obi administration is not sincere in its quest to get democratically elected individuals to pilot the affairs of the council areas. Kenneth Emeakayi, state chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, said that as far as he was concerned, their mission at ANSIEC office was a jamboree. “The aim of the meeting, according to ANSIEC, was to have an interactive session with the stakeholders; rather, what we saw was a different thing. The acting chairman of the commission just refused to speak with us,” he said.

Sam Oraegbunam, state chairman of the Labour Party, said the date of the election as announced by ANSIEC is not feasible. He said that ANSIEC was only playing to the gallery and that it lacked focus. As for Pat Orjiakor, chairman of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, the entire arrangement by ANSIEC was “pure deceit”. He said the electoral body was not sincere on the project. “Anybody who holds any office should be a man of honour and integrity.”

The same argument was put up by Oby Okafor, state chairman of Advance Congress of Democrats, ACD. She said that ANSIEC called the party leaders to ridicule them. “The public can testify that there are no plans by anybody to hold council elections. We were happy when we were summoned to come for this meeting, but on getting here, it was another thing altogether,” she said.

Amechi Obidike, state chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, said that the possibility of the election holding is remote. According to him, the fact that there are some impending cases in court against the commission that have not been disposed off, and that the acting chairman of ANSIEC has no powers to conduct council polls and as such the whole project is doubtful.

Critics in the state said that the reluctance to conduct local government elections is not just a problem that is peculiar to Governor Obi but a general political malady plaguing the system in the country. They argue that the desire to control allocations from the federal government was the reason behind the reluctance of state governors to conduct council polls. They further claim that governors are more comfortable working with transition committee chairmen and their members because they are more amenable to doing the biddings of state executive governors.

But, Osita Obi, leader of the Movement for the Conduct of Local Government Election, said that if the council poll is not conducted in the state, the governorship election may also not hold. The activist said that he was ready to lay down his life to actualise his campaign, saying that Anambra and, indeed, the aspirants had become a laughing stock in the society after 15 years.

Realnews learnt that what the acting chairman of ANSIEC did was a mere smokescreen designed to deceive the party leaders. It was alleged that the acting chairman did what he did under duress. A government source, told Realnews in confidence, that there will be no local government election in the state. “The governor is planning to put sole administrators at the helm of affairs at the councils. The tenure of transition committee members expired on June 12, 2013, and the aim of giving lawmakers N12 million each as constituency funds by the state government was to have its way on the plan,” the source said.

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