And The Winner Is: ...Peter Obi

"Peter Obi of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), having satisfied all requirements of the law and scored the highest number of votes, is hereby declared the winner," chief electoral officer Josiah Uwazuronye announced at the electoral commission headquarters in the state capital Awka reports Reuters. Obi's victory was also been carried by AFP and Next on Sunday, February 7, 2009, a day after the elections.

Reports also have it that Obi, "scored 97,843 votes, according to electoral commission INEC, beating former state governor Chris Ngige of the opposition Action Congress party, who polled 60,240 votes. Former central bank governor Chukwuma Soludo of the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) took 59,355 votes while ex-state governor Andy Uba of the Labour party polled 26,106 votes."

Anambra elections had generated so much tension and trepidation. For the very fact that the state though laying claim on being "The Light of the Nation" had been in perpetual political darkness. A blank out that has persisted despite being one of the south-eastern states with the greatest number of Igbo elites. Besides, it is trite to note that the apprehension surrounding Anambra polls was not unfounded. Elections in Nigeria had never been easy. Things have so degenerated that with each passing polls, the violence and godfatherisim had risen to idolatry pitch.

Recounting a couple of days back on Facebook, I was challenged by a friend to declare my stance on the Anambra elections. By the way, the level of political consciousness by the upward-mobile Nigerian youths is more palpable on social networks especially Facebook. This new class of internet warriors have definitely had enough and are desirous of a change in Nigerian polity.

Back to the hard knock I received, knowing that I come from Anambra State, a fellow citizen who supports Peter Obi could not understand my reluctance to stand behind the APGA candidate. It all started with an innocuous post I hoisted asking why people have behaved as though there were only two candidates: Soludo and Obi.

The response of this friend of mine was that: "voting Ngige is like lowering the standards; he only built roads and looted. How long are we to continue to vote on sentiments and pettiness and not on track records and integrity, purposefulness and accountability... vote Peter Obi and if you have any blemish on the man put it up for debate, I challenge you. I figure his only blemish is that he has refused to lead the PDP way, share the money."

While I shared his sentiments, I knew for certain that a vote for Andy Uba was tantamount to sending Anambra State back to the dark ages or even worse. The man whose avarice for power has led him - with his brother - to violate the state and the courts. Nonetheless, I am no Soludo-solution-messiah ship crowd follower. The reason is clear, if he has any integrity left, he should not be in PDP. Some claim his got brains, sure I don't dispute that. However, we've had a PhD from Harvard as governor in Anambra (in the 3rd Republic) and that didn't change much. Unfortunately, the bank stench has put Soludo's brains and capabilities to question. He was the boss at CBN, the bulk stops at his table, period. Soludo should go back to the classroom, that is, if they allow him. With the current sub-ethnic muddle in UNN, I doubt if he will find a warm welcome.

For Obi, I have always supported him. He limes the image of an intellectual and his integrity so far - save the cash incident in Lagos - is 'without blemish'. However, I fear certain sluggishness on Obi's part. It was so palpable when i visited home. There seems to be so much talk and no work. Or rather his was operating at a higher level that people don't seem to know where his heading. That in itself is no compliment but a failure of leadership.

Thus my hesitancy to lay my beat on Peter Obi. As much as we need men who have honour, nonetheless, honour alone cannot change things. Unfortunately, none of the contestants in the Anambra polls, in my opinion possessed the dual qualities of competence and veracity. It was like the proverbial saying that the blunt knife has no handle and the one with a handle is dead blunt.

Despite my misgivings, I am glad that Peter Obi won the election. While one may explain his lack lustre first term performance on the crazy situation that saw him more in court than in the government house, Obi should know that this time around he has no excuse. Anambra people have spoken loud for the heavens to hear. The elections that ushered him in, though garnished with irregularities, seems to be the best in recent history. Please Mr Peter Obi, this time around do not betray trust of your people. Work and change the face of Mama Anambra. If you take this plain counsel, history will not forget, neither would Anambra fail to remember.



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