AN EYE WITNESS TO ANAMBRA GUBER ELECTIONS

http://www.punchng.com/images/October/Friday/pix20061027126195.jpgThe burial of the last of the titans and the patriarch of the great Igbokwe family of Uruagu Nnewi, the late Chief JBC Igbokwe (Ugonabo) on Thursday February 4 2010 afforded me the great opportunity to witness the February 6 2010 historic governorship elections in Anambra State. Historic in the sense that Anambra has been in the news for wrongs since 1999 and Anambrans and other Nigerians were determined to make things work this time. Historic because a vast preponderance of Nigerians believed that if we fail to get it right it may be a sign of what to expect in 2011. Even more historic it was because other Nigerians felt that with the parade of gamut of deep intellectuals (second to none in Nigeria) and huge collection of very successful businessmen in Anambra State, the people must use their ingenuity to help themselves. It is not an understatement to say that the attention of the world was focused on Anambra State.

The mobilization by the Civil Society, Police, Army, Immigration, Civil Defense, Red Cross, NYSC, and other countless volunteers for this election was unprecedented in the annals of Nigeria. For the first time in the history of Nigeria, I saw Nigerians at work and the goal was to right the wrongs of yesteryears and they succeeded at the end of the day. While I used my phones to get first hand information on what was going on in the 21 LGAs in Anambra, I was physically present in ward 1 Uruagu Nnewi namely Cathedral of St Mary, Akaboedoji (Stella Maris), Ndiakwu and Okpunoeze. One problem I noticed which was a general problem in all 21 LGAs was the irregularities in the INEC registered voters list. At a polling station in Okpunoeze, Uruagu Nnewi I noticed that one out of the four units had only three names of registered voters. I saw many people who moved from one centre to another to see if they can find their names went home without voting. Some of them were lucky to find their names after hours of transversing the landscape searching for their names.

It was a general problem in all nooks and crannies of the State and I do not know why INEC failed in their duties to get things right. INEC shoddy preparations presented a big problem for the determined voters and I hope INEC will sit up in subsequent elections. Now, despite these clearly avoidable human errors and pockets of reports of some desperate people trying to be mischievous in some areas the elections were free and fair and anybody that says otherwise is an enemy of progress. Anybody that says he was robbed in this election tells a lie from the deepest part of hell. Any of the near 30 aspirants that say the election was not free and fair is a bad loser, a trouble maker and a political criminal. And I doubt if anyone of them will go to Court to challenge this election.

From what I saw at the polling stations, I noticed that it was a straight fight between Dr Chris Ngige and Governor Peter Obi. For the PDP it was all noise and no substance. In my own very eyes I saw one PDP Chieftain who came to a polling booth to share money but could not succeed. Party agents were dead serious, wearing red eyes and none was prepared to compromise. You can not do anything funny with the intimidating eyes of these great men and women. One PDP Chieftain from Oraifite spent all night thumb-printing stolen or fake ballot papers and whether he succeeded in stuffing them into the ballot boxes the following morning was another matter. In Otolo Nnewi, one PDP strong man did the same but failed miserably to get the ballot boxes to fill it up. When I got the information of what was happening in these places I put a call to certain quarters and in less than an hour I saw three trucks of soldiers arriving Nnewi from Onitsha and the PDP Chieftains ran for cover. From what I saw PDP did not come to win in a free and fair election, they came to rig. I salute the courage of the police, the Civil Society groups, the people of Anambra State, the soldiers, the Red Cross, NYSC, Civil Defense, Immigration and some eminent citizens of Anambra State.

All things considered, I think history was made in Anambra State and Nigerians deserve kudos for this. It is important to note also that lots and lots of lessons were released to the public for perusal and only a fool will ignore the huge lessons of history. First, it is now clear that we can get it right if we want to. What it requires is courage, determination, hard work, honesty and integrity. The near 30 candidates who took part in the election would have learnt that winning election is not a tea party. It involves hard work, many months of sleepless nights, deployment of the precious gift of time, money, energy to mobilize supporters. Those five man gang who stole our mandate in 2003 and used it for 3 years with impunity would have now discovered to their chagrin what it takes to win elections in a governorship race. Dr Andy Ubah who said he won 2007 governorship elections would have found out that he is a liar from the pit of hell. Those who were deceived by the gathering of fake crowd are now leaking their wounds. They underrated the wise people of Anambra State in their permutations and calculations.

What of those who were dishing out lies upon lies in the internet in the name of opinion polls? I fear for them and I wonder what they are doing now when the game has been won and lost. I read some of the things posted in the internet by some publishers and I ran away with the thinking that what drove us from our local newspapers to the internet is rearing its ugly head again. Fraudsters and charlatans have invaded the internet to make nonsense of a huge technology developed by thinking people to help humanity. We must not yield to the lies of these cheats. Nice guys must fight this until we separate the men from the boys in the internet.

One so-called Dr Adibe using a platform called Holler Africa tried to deceive the world, by giving us a thousand and one reasons why Soludo is the man to beat. Even when we drew his attention to his many lies, this depraved, pliant and pliable animal came out boldly a second time to support his fraudulent analysis. What will this fraudster do now? It is the height of intellectual profanity for anybody who says he possesses a Doctor of Philosophy in any university anywhere in the world to criminalize the public. The job of an intellectual is to speak the truth and nothing but the truth no matter whose ox is gored. Dr Adibe is an intellectual fraud, a disgrace to human conscience, an interloper, a hustler, and a cheat who tried to institutionalize lies for a mess of porridge. Dr Adibe belongs to what my friend Dr Okey Ndibe will call a cast of visionless, greedy and tragically mischievous leaders. Dr Adibe is nothing and Dr of nothing and out of nothing comes nothing.

Another huge lesson from Anambra 2010 is the obvious and painful fact that there is a limit of what money can do. In this stage and age ideas rule the world. You need to see the money deployed by PDP to buy voters cards in Nnewi. Just give them your voter's card to pick the serial number and you get N5000 and some they gave N3000 each. All this came to nothing but at the end of the day Anambrans collected their money and voted according to the dictates of their conscience.

In all I found out that it is possible to have free and fair elections in Nigeria if we all want to achieve it. We have allowed political brigandage and impunity to prevail in the land and Anambra has proved that it is possible to stop the mess. I also found out that staggered elections will help this country to achieve electoral sanity. I suggest that we conduct election in the nation's six geopolitical zones separately. In so doing it will be possible to deploy the nation's human and material resources to a particular zone and after that we move to another. I saw what it took to achieve what we achieved in Anambra and I realized at once that we have been paying lip service to matters of elections in Nigeria and the result is criminals in exalted offices meant for decent minds.

I congratulate Mr Peter Obi for making history. I congratulate him for his honesty and tenacity in the face of huge lies and unwarranted allegations of non-performance. I congratulate Obi for his many wars against electoral criminals, useless and rudderless politicians in the state. I congratulate him for allowing free and fair campaigns in the state not minding the fact that others would have used power of incumbent to suppress, oppress and repress opposition. I congratulate Mr. Obi for adding serious values to Anambra State. I see Mr Peter Obi as one of the finest souls in politics in Nigeria, I see him as strong man with the heart of steel. Whether we like it or not God has used this man to teach us that it is possible to get things right if we develop the right attitude. Yes, it is possible! Let us get to work!

Joe Igbokwe

Lagos