+ INEC fixes Nov. 30 for supplementary polls
‘We are not part of the election’
GLADIATORS in the controversial Anambra governorship election are squaring up for a showdown with the ruling All Progressives Peoples Alliance (APGA), as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has fixed Saturday, November 30, 2013, for supplementary election in areas the polls were declared inconclusive.
Despite assurances from INEC that the remaining elections would be hitch-free, free and fair, the candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Chris Ngige, and that of the Labour Party and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah and Comrade Tony Nwoye respectively are still kicking against the Saturday, November 30 fresh polls. They are rather calling for cancellation of the entire November 16, 2013 election.
According to the aggrieved guber candidates, the outcome of the election, would not be accepted by them. In fact, Ngige, Nwoye and Ubah had shortly after the election addressed a press conference, condemning the exercise and urging INEC to conduct a fresh election before March 2014 when the incumbent governor, Mr. Peter Obi’s tenure would elapse.
But INEC, in a swift response to their demand had acknowledged there were logistics challenges in the election. Hence, their decision to suspend the results. In rejecting the call for its cancellation, the commission reminded the complainants that only the courts have the power to annul elections.
Also responding to the petition from APC, calling for cancellation of the November 16 election, INEC insisted that the party has not provided enough evidence to warrant its demand.
And when the electoral umpire met again on Friday, November 22, it equally maintained its position and rather fixed November 30 for a supplementary election.
“We regret that in spite of the outcome of the election, the Anambra election has not been the best of elections. We regret that there is no other decision that could be taken by the commission other than to conduct a supplementary election in the areas where elections were cancelled. There is no substantial evidence to support the cancellation of the election as a substantial majority of the allegations that have been made cannot be substantiated,” INEC chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega said.
Jega also denied all other allegations by the aggrieved candidates bordering on INEC’s partiality, manipulation of election and deliberate disenfranchisement of Anambra people. The INEC boss assured Nigerians that the commission was not partisan and had the capacity to ensure that anybody that compromised the election would be made to face the wrath of the law.
But reacting to the announcement of a date for the supplementary election at another joint press conference held at Ubah’s Maitama, Abuja residence, APC candidate, Ngige, PDP flagbearer, Nwoye and Ubah said they wouldn’t be used as INEC’s ‘guinea pigs’. Ngige insisted they will not participate in the supplementary election because he has incontrovertible evidence that the Anambra election was rigged and marred by electoral irregularities. Senator Ngige also alleged that the voters register INEC gave them was different from the one used for the election.
Dr. Ngige further alleged that the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Professor Chukwuemeka Onukagu was the head of the cabal that rigged the election in favour of APGA.
In his own reaction, the PDP candidate in the Anambra governorship election, Comrade Tony Nwoye said he would not be part of the charade called supplementary election slated for November 30. “My participation is to give credibility to the charade called November 30 supplementary election.”
The candidate of the Labour Party, Dr. Ifeanyi Patrick Ubah also said the Nov. 30 supplementary election would be boycotted by his party members and supporters in the other political parties. Ubah repeated this in a phone interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly on Friday, November 22, 2013. “There is no election in Anambra State on November 30, 2013. Anambra people want the Saturday, November 16, 2013 election to be cancelled and date for fresh elections fixed. That is the position of the leading guber candidates in the election.”
Similarly, in a phone interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly on Saturday, November 23, APC Interim Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said INEC’s position has confirmed the party’s worst fears that the commission is working with the PDP and the Presidency to ensure that no election ever counts in Nigeria.”
INEC had on Monday, November 18, 2013, declared the Anambra governorship election inconclusive because no candidate polled the statutory 25 per cent of votes in two-third of the 21 local government areas in the state. According to Prof. James Epoke, the Returning Officer and Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar, due to the large number of cancelled votes (113,113), no candidate scored the required percentage. INEC also said it examined the difference between the total votes of the APGA guber candidate, Dr. Willie Obiano, who polled the highest votes and Tony Nwoye, the PDP candidate who was the first runner-up. And according to the commission, the difference is less than the figure of the 113,113 cancelled votes. Obiano got 174,710 votes in the inconclusive election, while PDP’s Tony Nwoye polled 94,956.
From INEC’s data, out of the 1,763,751 voters registered for the election, only 451,826 were accredited. A further breakdown of the controversial Anambra election results show that total valid votes stood at 413,005; invalid votes, 16,544 while total votes cast was 429,549.
Idemili North had 89,997 cancelled votes while 636 were cancelled in Idemili South.
The APC candidate, Dr. Chris Ngige followed PDP with 92,300 votes while Ubah polled 37,446 votes.
23 candidates participated in the election.
Political analysts are, however, of the opinion that even if PDP, APC and the Labour Party eventually participate in the November 30 supplementary election, APGA’s Obiano would still likely win having already secured 16 out of the 21 local government areas in Anambra State. PDP won in two, APC won in two, while Labour Party won one.
Multiple controversy has been trailing the November 16 Anambra guber polls with aggrieved candidates taking on the presumed winner, Dr. Willie Obiano, his political godfather and incumbent governor Peter Obi and APGA national chairman, Chief Victor Umeh. In series of television interviews, Umeh has specifically labelled Ngige a loser who is licking his wound after his plot to rig the election failed. Obiano has also been tackling his opponents through Governor Obi’s Special Assistant on Media, Valentine Obienyem and his spokesman, James Eze. Obienyem has not spared Ubah and Ngige whom he calls unprintable names.
Peter Obi’s spokesman has since taken the war of words to the social media where he regularly serves APGA faithful with all manner of negative information against the APC and Labour candidates.
Ubah and Ngige have not been sleeping. The senator of the Federal Republic has been telling the world that APGA connived with INEC to rig the Anambra election. His very strong propaganda machine has also accused Obi of crushing the opposition, using security agents. In fact, Ngige was reportedly quoted last week as accusing APGA’s agents of killing two innocent Anambra women who were protesting the conduct of the election.
More of these allegations, counter allegations and mudslinging amongst Anambra political gladiators would certainly continue until the crisis arising from the November 16 guber election is finally resolved.
– UCHE OLEHI