AWKA – Given the sharp contrast between the results of the House of Assembly elections conducted in Anambra state last Saturday, and that of the Senatorial election conducted on February 23, it is obvious that certain element must have played a big role in the outcome of both elections.
And it is not difficult to say conclusively that that big element is the Vice Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Mr. Peter Obi.
An analysis of the result of the senatorial election shows that the PDP swept the polls winning two senatorial seats leaving one seat to surprise winner, Chief Ifeanyi Ubah on the platform of Yong Progressives Party (YPP), and majority of the House of Representatives seats in the 11 federal constituencies. The outcome of the presidential election which was held along- side the National Assembly election was anticipated though.
During the presidential election the sentiment was high on the Vice Presidential candidate, Peter Obi who many Anambra people and nay Igbo people saw as their only voice in the Presidency. Beyond that many Anambra communities saw the election as an opportunity to thank Obi for his marvelous performance while in office as Governor during which every community in the state benefitted immensely in many sectors.
Now, the problem is how to separate Obi from other candidates who were hanging on his popularity. The PDP slogan in that election was: “vote umbrella all the way”. The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) stuck to its own slogan which was: “Vote Umbrella for the Presidency, but vote cock in the rest”. The PDP again countered that voters must vote umbrella all the way because members of the National Assembly when elected will assist and make Obi’s job easy when he gets his Vice Presidential seat. PDP won. It made sense to the electorate to vote umbrella all the way and wait for the House of Assembly election to vote for the cock so that the government of Governor Willie Obiano will not be distracted.
So, in the Presidential and National Assembly election, it was not surprising that PDP swept the seats. Chief Mrs. Uche Ekwunife won the Anambah Central senatorial seat with 101,548 votes against her opponents including her arch political enemy, Senator Victor Umeh who scored 81,429 votes. Senator Stella Odua won the Anambah North senatorial election.
Now, the question is with the result declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has Mr. Obi finally settled the fight between Umeh and Ekwunife?
From close observers, the fight may have just begun. It will be recalled that INEC declared Ekwunife winner of the 2015 election. After a hard fought battle at the National Assembly Election Petition tribunal sitting in Awka, Ekwunife was affirmed. But Umeh took the fight to the Appeal Court sitting in Enugu where Ekwunife’s victory was upturned. However, Ekwnife not wanting to let go pursued the matter at different courts and the matter dragged on for three years. By the time Umeh was sworn in as the 109th Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he had only one year to spend in the Red chamber. He had hoped to use his next stay there to be able to actualize his dream of impacting meaningfully both at the Senate and his constituency but here he is facing a set- back.
As for whether the fight between the two has ended, Umeh has already rejected the result. Addressing journalists three days after the election, Umeh said that “the mere fact that the result had not been declared three days after the elections points to facts that all is not well with the election”.
He added: “The INEC clearly lost control of the election because from the guide line made by the Commission, INEC chairman emphasized that accreditation must be done with card readers and any results generated where accreditation with card reader was not used would be repeated and would not be accepted. But on Saturday, it was obvious that the card readers did not work in majority of the places in the senatorial district. In Awka North for example, the card reader did not work in more than four or five polling units. They had a resort to manual form of accreditation through which the umpire lost control of the voters who were the genuine voters to vote in the election. It was the same thing in many parts of Awka South.
In Anaocha Local Government Area here, Agulu and Nri particularly did not use card reader to accredit voters. In Obosi in Idemili North, both violence and non-use of card reader for accreditation marred the exercise. This was the general situation/malace in Anambra Central Senatorial Zone across the local government areas.The results being turned out from this will show you that card readers were not used for accreditation because of the high volume of voters that greeted in the exercise like in Awka South were over 40,000 were said to have taken part in the election.
“In Obosi where there was mayhem, INEC was still struggling as at Monday to generate a real set of result with which to make a return in Obosi. Abatete in Idemili North has no result. That is general picture of the exercise and one will expect that if all was well, the election results in Anambra Central would have been declared like other zones in the state. Anambra Central was a zone where election was heavily manipulated and INEC appeared to be helpless. Awka South Local Government results could not balance. They were doing trial balance for three days before posting the result. It goes to show you that there were manipulation of results” and so and so forth”.
“However, the most intriguing part of the election was that it was the police that produced the result sheets of 30 polling units in Obosi ward II after INEC claimed its officials and ad-hoc staff lost theirs and Umeh has noted that no agent was privy to that arrangement more so when the result police brought are carbon copies”.
On her part, Ekwunife last Monday hosted stakeholders in Awka. During that occasion, she concerned herself with Vote-buying which she said has affected the democratic principle of voluntary expression of franchise.
She said: “There is no how any election can be free, fair and acceptable in a situation where vote-buying and vote selling are the order of the day. The trend will make mockery of Nigeria’s democracy if not checked,” she said and urged community leaders to guard against the practice in future elections to encourage youths in politics.
She claimed that PDP did not give money for vote buying and stressed that “the electorate, especially the women, voted their choice.”
While dedicating her victory to God, and commending the party stakeholders, electorate, her campaign organisation and the Church for their support she noted that Mr. Peter Obi vying for the Vice Presidential seat on the ticket of PDP mainly informed her decision to defect to the PDP from APC.
Actually, Ekwunife is not new in changing political parties. She has been a member of virtually all big political parties in Nigeria, beginning from All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) through which she represented Anaocha-Njikoka and Dunukofia Federal Constituency twice, Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA) through which she contested in the governorship election in Anambah state, the All Progressives Congress (APC) through which she attempted to contest the senate seat and now PDP.
In this dispensation, Ekwunife actually secured the ticket of APC to vie in the senatorial election and had actually organized thank-giving service for that Mr. Peter Obi picked the ticket as Vice Presidential ticket of PDP. Seeing that APC ticket will lead her nowhere in Anambah state, she quickly jumped ship again and was paved the way with PDP ticket. Before her entry Chief Charles Odinukwe was the sole aspirant of the party for Anambra Central senatorial district.