INEC sets date for Anambra guber election

The INEC has approved November 18, 2017 for the conduct of the Anambra gubernatorial election. Consequently,  the atmosphere in the state is fully charged.

A national commissioner of the electoral empire, Solomon Soyebi, who announced the date at a news conference on Thursday, February 23, in Abuja, said that the 1999 Constitution as amended, and the Electoral Act, had stipulated that the earliest day for the conduct of the election shall be October 18, while latest date for the election shall be February 14, 2018.

Even before the release of election timetable, there had been  a series of consultative meetings by the ruling APGA and other prominent parties in the state.

Realignments and nocturnal meetings are also glaring, even as voters in all the local government areas in the state are bracing up for the onerous task.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are among the parties to watch in the contest.

 Anambra is the only state in the country being governed by the APGA, and the feat, arguably, is probably the only “showcase” success by the party, which gives it identity at the national level.
Governor Willie Obiano, who is rounding off his first term in office, remains a strong contender as  he has a chance of gunning for a second term under the APGA.

Despite this, both the APC and the PDP are doing more than enough to snatch the governorship slot from the APGA, while the government in power in the state is also not taking things lightly.

Just recently, the APC commenced a registration and revalidation of their membership in the state, during which old members of the party reaffirmed their membership while new ones, including those who decamped from other parties to join the party were registered.

As hitch-free as the exercise appears to be so far, it is not without mixed reactions and misinterpretations. 

Prominent among the critics of the exercise is the APGA leadership, which accused the APC of taking advantage of the exercise to buy off voters’ cards from the electorate.

Another strong party competing favourably in the state is the PDP. 

Despite its fictionalised deficiency, it has also been making waves with its recent call for the impeachment of the incumbent governor by the State Assembly, over alleged constitutional breaches.
The PDP, which accused the governor of spending about 30 days during an overseas trip without transmitting letter to the state House of Assembly before and after his return as stipulated by the constitution, succeeded in mobilising a total of 28 political parties on the platform of the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) in the state.

At individual levels, quite a good number of politicians have already declared interest to contest the election under various political parties. While some announced their ambition publicly, others are busy ‘testing the waters underground.

Among those who have publicly declared interest to run for the election is Senator Andy Uba under his new party, the APC. He dumped the PDP recently.

Though his political strength can be attested to by those who have been watching political developments in the state, Andy Uba is not taking anything for granted.
Shortly after his defection to the APC, he did not hide his ambition.

He, however, said the governorship race in the party was not a do-or-die affair, adding that whoever emerges as the party’s flag-bearer would not disappoint members of the party and the state in general.
 The lawmaker said the APC was a true reflection of unity, both at the national and state levels.

“But one thing I want to assure members of the party now is that whoever God says will emerge as the candidate of the APC will never disappoint the party, during and after the governorship election in November,” he said.  

George Moghalu, Chike Obidigbo, Godwin Ezemo, Adolphus Onunkwo, are other prominent members of the APC who would test their popularity during the primaries.

On the side of the PDP are Obi Uzo, Obaze Oseloka, Alex Obiogbolu and Ezeribe Ezeanuna, among others.

While the APC is faced with the challenge of the choice of who to put forward as its flag -bearer to give a strong fight to the incumbent, considering the flock of contestants already in the party, the challenge in the PDP is primarily the ability to unify itself before the hot battle begins.

The chairman of the APC in the state, Barrister Emeka Ibe, who handed over the party’s constitution and broom to Senator Uba, said the broom was to ensure that the current administration of the APGA was swept away in November. 

He charged the APC governorship hopeful to be a good ambassador of the party in the state, alleging that the current APGA government had misruled Anambra like never before.

The incumbent Obiano on his part is not taking anything for chance to ensure he retains the exalted seat in the state. Although he is yet to make a public declaration of his second term bid, every step he takes is a pointer to that fact.

Besides, he is presently the sole candidate of his party, as nobody has so far shown interest to compete with him.

Prominent on the list of his giant strides is his consistency and faithfulness in the payment of civil servants’ salaries and allowances, as well as pensions to the retirees in the state, a feat that won him the nickname, ‘the alert governor.’

Another move of the governor is the wise concept of the “stimulus package,” rolled out almost immediately the federal government announced that the nation’s economy had gone into recession and targeted at cushioning the adverse effects of the economic downturn on the citizenry.

Another thing that works in  favour of the governor is the relative security the state is presently enjoying since his assumption of office, as well as the steady massive infrastructural development across the state.

Most of the roads abandoned over the years are being reconstructed, including those belonging to the federal government.

Expectedly, many communities and individuals have continued to pinch their tents behind the second term aspiration of the governor, citing his massive developmental strides across the length and breadth of the state during his two and a half years in office as their main reason.

Regardless of Obiano’s achievements, however, some residents of the state are of the opinion that he has not done enough to deserve a come back. For some, the only visible infrastructure on ground is the three-stretched flyovers located along the Enugu-Onitsha expressway.

They said the roads he claimed to be constructing are not as durable as those of his predecessors, particularly that of Senator Chris Ngige.

Other baggages raised by the opposition that would reduce his speed of coasting to victory are his inability to conduct council polls, diversion of allocation meant for the local councils, abandonment of projects, especially those initiated by his predecessors, among others.

But the chairman of Obiano Support Group, Chief Jude Emecheta, has said the APGA was not leaving anything to chance as the governorship election draws nearer.

Emecheta made this known at the inauguration of Njikoka council chapter of the group in Abagana on Thursday.

He said though APGA, which is the party in power, remains the beautiful bride because of the performance of Governor Obiano.

He, however, said they are not unmindful of other political parties who are working so hard to take over the state.

 “This election is for us to win. Everyone knows that Anambra is in the best hands, but other parties are scheming. The PDP is still here, and they are not a pushover.The APC is also working hard.
“That is why we must not relent in our efforts; we have to go and spread the message of Obiano’s good work to our people and tell them to support him for  a second term.

 “I encourage you not to be afraid of these people; just be careful about them. I can assure you that we shall monitor our votes. I can also assure you that our votes must count; that is why we are here,” he said.

As the INEC gears up to move its office to Anambra State, it is the hope of citizens in the state that the government of the day would provide the enabling environment for a free, fair and credible election.