The people of Anambra State, South East Nigeria, will today choose between continuity and a fresh mandate in a governorship election that promises to be a keen contest among the candidates.
Investigations revealed that the residents of the state are showing strong enthusiasm in the process.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties and their candidates yesterday engaged in last-minute bids to either see to the success of the exercise or personal campaigns for victory.
About 37 candidates from different political parties would scramble for the votes of 2, 158,171 registered voters in the state at the poll.
Factors that will produce the next governor of the state currently dominate the landscape.
Residents discuss the chances of the major gladiators including All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate and incumbent governor, Willie Obiano and All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Tony Nwoye.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Oseloka Obaze, United Progressive Party (UPP) candidate, Osita Chidoka and the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) candidate, Godwin Ezeemo, are also considered as having ‘bright’ chances at the election.
Among the five, however, many say the contest would be mainly between Obiano and Nwoye. As a way of ensuring the credibility of the exercise, INEC had started delivering sensitive and non-sensitive materials from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Awka.
Distribution of the materials to the 21 local council headquarters began early yesterday morning.
The state’s INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Nwachukwu Orji, told journalists that the commission was doing its best to ensure a free, fair and credible exercise, urging the electorate to turn out for the election.
He stated that to reduce the problems associated with the exercise, eligible voters would no longer need to wait after accreditation, but would vote immediately.
He denied reports that the commission was working to favour a particular candidate in the election, following allegations that one of its officials, Amina Zakari, who attended a meeting in Awka with the National Chairman, lodged in a hotel owned by one of the contestants.
Awka, the state capital, however, witnessed massive influx of a huge number of persons yesterday including those who are deemed to have no stakes in the election. Several trucks bearing mobile and regular policemen and soldiers were also moved into the state to strengthen security.
Several drinking joints are also witnessing a robust patronage of customers.
Although, several road junctions witnessed traffic gridlocks, this is not as a result of security check-points but basically because of human and vehicular movements, as most residents are either moving in or out of the state. The state government had declared a work-free day in the state to enable civil servants return to their polling units to cast their votes.
Meanwhile, some APC governors held an all night closed-door meeting in Awka with stakeholders and leaders of the party, apparently to perfect plans for the election.
Although, details of the meeting were not disclosed, a source said the attendance included party leaders from the Southeast, adding that it disrupted certain engagements of the party’s candidate in the election.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan had led PDP governors and leaders to campaign for Obaze, the party’s candidate, at Onitsha on Thursday and thereafter held an all night meeting at Peter Obi’s residence.
Governor Obiano had asked the Anambra electorate to come out and perform their civil obligations, assuring that adequate security of lives and property has been provided.
Obiano in a statewide broadcast, also told troublemakers to stay away from the state, stressing that the long arm of the law would catch up with anyone who attempts to derail the election process.
Meanwhile, no fewer than 605 journalists have been accredited to cover today’s governorship election.
Also accredited were 42 local observers and seven international observers to cover the 21 local councils, three senatorial districts, 4,608 polling units, 731 voting points and 2,158,171 registered voters.
A politician, Ugo Ofodile, said the tension associated with governorship elections could be reduced if the state adopts a development charter that should be abided to by all candidates.
Speaking in Awka, he argued that the desperation for political office and the imposition of candidates, among other negative vices associated with the electoral process, could be curbed by an acceptable blueprint drawn up by the people.
He said the adoption of a development charter in the state had also become imperative, following the campaigns ran by the candidates in the governorship election, which, according to him, lacked the people’s input.
His words: “I think what is lacking in the campaigns is that it failed to address the core needs of the people and returns us to the same old story of what the politicians want Anambra people want.
“All the candidates have their blueprints and ideas on how to run and develop the state if given opportunity, but did any of them consult the people while drawing up the blueprint? This is the big question.”
“I believe that the time has come when people should be prepared to get into office, when people should take a study of their environment and relate with their people so as to feel their pulse before embarking on any assignment of note like the governorship election. They are speaking differently on what they think they know but are these things what Anambra people want?”
Continuing, he said: “I listened to one of the candidates talk about an airport in Uli. Do you talk about an airport when you have not been able to maintain and fix the bad roads in the state?
“If you want to build an airport in Anambra, it is good, but who are you building it for? Are you looking for something that will not be used by the masses, are you thinking of bettering the welfare of the elite class and the few still occupying the various strata?
“These are the issues. I believe that the ordinary people of Anambra are looking for the basic things of life. I believe that they are interested in anything that will put food on their table, make their children receive the best education at affordable rates, provide them with good roads and access to health care services.
“The trader or artisan in Onitsha and Nnewi desires stable power supply to enable him concentrate on his trade and put food on the table. If you want to be governor, we need to understand whether the person is thinking of development or some other things. The parties have ideology and manifestos, but we discovered that the moment anybody assumes office, he starts thinking and behaving differently from the ideals of his party.
“So, for me, these are the issues and the campaign rallies I have been opportune to attend so far have not given me the conviction that we have learnt something new. We have insisted on the old method where people gather and the hired crowd will continue to sing praises until the event is over and then we share money and go. It does not make for development of any society.”
The Estate Management expert added: “What I really think is that if we are able to actualise these, whoever becomes the governor is now immaterial. We would have solved a major problem in the polity. We would have reduced the level of contention and animosity that arise any time there is an election.
“Democracy is all about the people. It is government of the people but what is the input of the people in the programme of the government?
“Should we continue to vote all the time for people to go into office and do whatever they like and however they like it? That is what I think this election should correct, but that may be a far cry because, we have not been able to clearly articulate a programme for the state,” he stated.