Mixed reactions trail the Independent National Electoral Commission’s announcement of the results of the Anambra State gubernatorial election declaring Governor Willie Obiano the winner
GOVERNOR Willie Obiano of Anambra State was so confident of his victory that after casting his vote at Eri Ward, in Aguleri, Anambra East Local Government Area, on Saturday, November 18, he told those who cared to listen that he was not just going to win the re-election bid, he would win by a landslide. Said he: “I am very confident that at the end of the day, I will win this election by a landslide.”
Indeed, Obiano, who is also the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, made good his promise as he coasted home with a landslide victory in the governorship poll held on Saturday.
The governor won in all the 21 local government areas of the state to defeat his arch rivals, Tony Nwoye of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and Oseloka Obaze of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in their hometowns.
Announcing the results of the election at the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, headquarters in Awka, Zanna Akpagu, the returning officer, said Obiano won in all 21 local councils of the state.
According to the final results, Obiano of the APGA polled 234,071 votes to defeat Tony Nwoye of the All Progressives Congress, APC, his closest rival, who polled a distant 98,752 votes. Oseloka
Obaze of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, polled 70,293 votes to place third, while Osita Chioka, a former minister of Aviation and candidate of the United Progressives Party, UPP, placed fourth gaining 7,903 votes and Godwin Ezemo, a candidate of the Progressive People Alliance, PPA, was fifth with 2, 787 votes.
There were a total of 2,064,134 registered voters in the state, out of which 457,311 were accredited.
According to Akpagu, there were a total of 448,771 votes cast, with 422,314 votes and 26,457 votes as valid and rejected votes, respectively.
“With the powers conferred on me as the returning officer of the governorship election held in Anambra State on November 18, 2017, I, Professor Zanna Akpagu, hereby declare Willie Obiano of the APGA as the winner of the election and he is returned elected,” Akpagu declared at exactly 7:31pm on Sunday, November 19.
That, indeed, prompted reactions from various quarters.
Nwoye, who placed second in the overall election results, congratulated Obiano for his victory. He said he would not contest the election results, but his party was free to whatever action it wished. He said: “I accept the results myself but it may not be the stand of the party.
“I am sure that INEC really compromised. Imagine that the party chairman was arrested at the dawn of the election, party members were arrested across the state.”
On its part, the APC National Working Committee said it was still waiting to be officially briefed about the just-concluded election before taking a position.
Bolaji Abdullahi, national publicity secretary of the APC, said in an interview said: “The national working committee has to sit, agree and take a position after it has been briefed. The candidate who participated in the election will also take a position; it is not something that I can do on my own.”
Chidoka, the governorship candidate of the United Progressive Party, UPP, who came distant fourth, accepted the defeat in the election.
The former Aviation minister said he lost because he would not play the usual money politics. “Our campaign attracted the finest and brightest of Anambra.
“The bold and the courageous were with us as we exerted our best in running the most robust issue-based and technology-driven campaign in the history of our dear state. We attempted to change the course of events and chart a new beginning for our state. We believed and we dared; we engaged with all patriotic vigour as we held strongly that the long awaited time for our people to experience a new opportunity had come and we laboured for it.
“In all, our focus was the people; the forgotten, the poor and the disadvantaged. They were the prime impetus for our involvement. We beheld their agony and we strived to redirect and vent that energy through a genuine political process,” he said.
He said the UPP heard the complaints of the people and worked to redirect them from the streets to the ballot box.
Chidoka said the he rejected god-fatherism and money politics and made personal sacrifices with small donations and goodwill of a few good men and women.
According to him, “On November 18, our people announced strongly their rejection of politicians.
“They traded their votes because they doubted we would truly represent their interest… While our message resonated with the people they doubted that the political class cared about them. They voted for the highest bidder.”
“We lost to superior financial firepower. As Democrats, we concede to the voters’ choices. The true hallmark of democracy is the respect for the voice of the ballot as that of the majority,” Chidoka said.
But Obaze, the PDP candidate, who came third in the same election, would not have any of that. He has pointedly rejected the results of the poll.
Obaze, who has been speaking to journalists, alleged that the outcome of the poll had been pre-determined. He alleged that the results of the local governments did not reflect the voting pattern.
Besides, he alleged: “It has never happened in Anambra politics that the winner wins 21 local governments. So, we need to look closely at what happened, why the incumbent governor is coming out top consistently.
“That questions whether the other candidates have no stronghold as individuals and their respective parties. There is a certain dubious consistency that, just on the face of it, is an aberration.”
In the same vein, Obaze said that the INEC would have to explain how it arrived at the decision bordering on over-voting in some areas when accreditation and voting were done simultaneously.
Nevertheless, the PDP candidate said he would still consult with party members before a decision on the next line of action. “Well, I am still consulting my people and I am still waiting.”
But some of the party members that Obaze would like to rely on may not be in support of challenging the results after all.
Chris Uba, a member of the Board of Trustees of the PDP, on his part, blamed Peter Obi, a former governor of the state, for the loss. Uba alleged that Obi imposed Obaze, who he claimed was not the popular choice on the party.
While asking the party members to avoid impunity and do introspection, the party chieftain, said it was time for the PDP to stop the perennial loss of elections in Anambra State.
Speaking at a press conference in Awka, Uba said: “My heart is bleeding that we lost this election again. Anambra State is a PDP state, yet each time we will lose to ‘strangers.’
“How is it that each time, a party somebody is nurturing will be hijacked by strangers some months to the election? Obi has not won any election without my input. Why did he bring a foreigner to represent us in this election? That is the cause of this loss.”
Uba alleged that Obi was one of the people who caused the loss of the party in the 2015 general elections.
“He caused us that problem and (Goodluck) Jonathan lost that election. PDP should stop this impunity. Some of those governors that came here to campaign for the PDP here could not have been governors without my input. Why didn’t they ask after me when they came here to campaign?
He said Obi must apologise to the PDP members in Anambra State for leading them into an inglorious outing at the poll.
Uba said further: “Obi doesn’t have the capacity to make Obaze or anybody a governor without my input. Obi has killed this party. This is an election we would have won with a wide margin. Obi carried what he could not control.
“My heart is bleeding. We lost this election by coming distant third. In such a large party, you don’t use it to settle scores. Obi came into the PDP to settle scores with Obiano, his former ally. That was our bane in this election.
“Obi should apologise to the PDP in five national dailies for this disappointment he caused us. Failure to apologise; I know what to do.”
Without going to the kind of tirade that characterised Uba’s reaction, Ike Ekweremadu, the deputy Senate president and a leader of the PDP, congratulated Obiano on his victory in the election.
In a statement issued on Sunday by Uche Anichukwu, his Special adviser on Media, Ekweremadu also commended the people of Anambra, the INEC, security agencies and other stakeholders for the peaceful conduct of the election.
While commending the major political stakeholders in the election for their sportsmanship, Ekweremadu appealed to those who had issues with the outcome of the poll “to toe the path of constitutionalism in seeking redress.”
He also advised Obiano to reach out to his political opponents and recruit the best hands to move the state forward, irrespective of their political leanings.
As if taking a cue from Ekweremadu’s advice, Obiano has said that his electoral victory does not belong to him or his party but to the people of the state.
The governor, who made the remark in his acceptance speech, which he personally signed, said: “With utmost humility, I stand before you to accept the historic mandate you have bestowed on me today. Umu nnem (my brothers and sisters), the victory we savour today belongs neither to Willie Obiano nor to our great party, APGA. No! This sweet victory belongs to Ndi Anambra.
“It (victory) belongs to the wheelbarrow pushers and the Okada riders who have clearly seen in our recent political experience, a glimmer of light in the horizon. It belongs to the farmers in Ayamelum, Onono, Ogbaru, Omasi, Omor and Ufuma who have now realized that Agriculture is the future of Nigeria.
“It belongs to the teachers and civil servants, who have seen that a motivated workforce is the greatest asset of any government and have rewarded our faith in them with an overwhelming verdict at the poll.
“It belongs to the illustrious sons and daughters of Anambra State, who have seen the star of this great state rise in the eastern skies and have answered our call for Aku luo uno; bringing home their naira and dollars to put our dear state on the investment map!
“This victory belongs to all of us! Umu nnem, this victory is not a winner-takes-it-all; for in the New Anambra of my dream, everyone is a winner.”
The governor called on other candidates in the election, including Obaze and Nwoye to join hands with him to build a better place for Anambra people, adding that the state was bigger than any individual’s ambition.
He stressed, “So, I reach out a hand of brotherhood to my fellow contestants…Oseloka, Tony, Osita, Godwin and others whose names I cannot easily recall here. And I say to you; my brothers, we have all fought a good fight.
“But Anambra State is the winner! The interest of Anambra State is bigger than the private ambitions of anyone of us. Therefore, I pray you to join hands with me to build a better place for Ndi Anambra! Our beloved state needs our talent and our time. The time to build a better place is now!
“Indeed, this victory is a referendum on the solid resolve of Ndi Anambra to rise above average in all we do. We have demonstrated that we are indeed capable of taking charge of our lives and making difficult decisions that will brighten the future of our children. I have no doubt in my mind that we shall continue to lay the building blocks for a prosperous tomorrow for all.
“Ndi Anambra, this mandate is dear to my heart. I see it as a historic call to inspire my people to greatness. I see it as a call to deny myself sleep that my people may sleep better. Umu nnem, I will not give myself rest until our beloved state has fully assumed the status of the model state of Nigeria. This is my promise to you all.”
The governor in the same breath expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for providing Ndi Anambra the much needed atmosphere for democracy to sink deeper roots in the Nigerian soil.
“Mr. President promised us a free and fair election. Today, we can all see that he has kept his promise. Thank you so much Mr. President!
“I must also thank the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for conducting what has been widely adjudged a transparent election in Anambra State. With this election, INEC has shown that it has fully braced itself for the 2019 elections. Thank you so much.”
Expressing a similar view, Osita Okechukwu, the director-general of the Voice of Nigeria, said the outcome of the Anambra election showed the APC’s commitment to free and fair elections in Nigeria.
In Enugu on Sunday, November 19, Okechukwu, who is a chieftain of the APC, said: “Governor Willie Obiano benefitted handsomely from President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to free, fair and transparent elections. This is a case of a democracy convert, who behaved better than old democrats.”
Victor Umeh, the director general of the Willie Obiano campaign organisation, also thanked Buhari for his party’s victory at the polls on Saturday.
Speaking with TVC News in Awka on Sunday after the final results were announced, Umeh said the free and fair electoral process could be attributed to the president who allowed democracy to take its course without interfering in the process.
He said: “Let me say that INEC surprised everybody with its conduct of the elections. If you see how people were reacting as the result was broadcast live. INEC carefully selected the ad-hoc staff and the collation officers independently.
“They did not select politicians, or allow politicians to submit list of ad-hoc staff this time around. In order to avoid rigging of the elections, no one knew where this ad-hoc staff were coming from.” he said.
The APGA chieftain recalled the situation in 2013, when his party, APGA, won in 20 out of 21 local government councils in the state, but it had now done better than before by winning in all the local councils in the state.
“It shows that the Obiano projects in virtually all local government councils in the state impacted and won the 21 local governments. The people believe Governor Obiano will bring development to the state, including building an airport in the state within three years of his administration,” Umeh said.
The mandate for Obiano to govern Anambra State for another four years, is for now, a moment to savour for the governor and his supporters as well as for the opposition to go back to the drawing board and plan for future elections.
– Nov 20, 2017 @ 18:14 GMT |