The governorship election held in Anambra State on Saturday the 6th day of November, 2021. The threats of forestalling the election from holding by the “liberation fighters” of the Independent Peoples’ of Biafra (IPOB) gave way to the election and impressively, the people of Anambra came out en masse to cast their votes, this relative to the no election song that preceded the eventual conduct of the election.
The atmosphere was vivaciously charged in most polling units as all parties expected victory at the end of the day. Even the most hopeless by reasonable electoral calculations and forecasts was still expecting to be announced winner notwithstanding his or her level of preparedness or acceptability before the people. That is the lot of politicians anyway but a gale of defections had preceded the election date and the mood was getting more and more difficult to gauge.
The ruling party at the national level, ably represented by Mr. Andy Uba, was banking on the defection fortunes and expecting a change in the leadership representation in the State from one dominated by All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to All Progressives Congress (APC). It is no news that amidst all fears, the election has taken place and a leader-designate has emerged in the person of Prof Chukwuma Soludo, former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria.
The election was keenly contested majorly amongst the three frontline parties in the State, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) with quite a number of other smaller parties in the fray.
The parties polled in the order in which their names were mentioned above, clearly with the All Progressives Congress coming distant third. While the Peoples Democratic Party has already accepted the outcome of the election and congratulated the victor, the All Progressives Congress is rejecting the results based on certain premises inclusive of the supposedly large defection of party stalwarts from the All Progressives Grand Alliance to the party. In fact, the candidate, Andy Uba, has been reported to have queried how he could have lost his ward when the APGA ward chairman defected to his party, APC, shortly before the election. Reading the rejection speech greatly amused me. He has been greatly miffed with the outcome of the election and wondered that with all the new entrants received into his party, he could not have lost the election if it was truly free and fair. If Andy Uba had been a new entrant into the political terrain, I would not have minded his disposition and would believe that his attitude to the result should not be dignified with any comment. However, with his age and antecedents in politics, I believe he can be conveniently described as a veteran.
Therefore, it is shocking to me that he would ground his rejection seriously on that premise. Let me remind him that the type of politics in which he is involved is a game of deceit. How could he have believed that the defectors genuinely meant well for him when they defected. Lesson number one is that they could have been sent as spies to deflate the tyre of his campaign by way of ambush and to collect his money which they knew he would gladly give out at this moment thereby draining his war chest.
This is a frequent tactic in the game as they say that a fool and his money would soon part ways. Secondly, these people could have crossed to join APC with their supporters or sympathizers refusing to follow them. The implication is that where they even genuinely desired to abandon their old party to assist Andy Uba to victory, their personal votes can never be sufficient to accomplish that goal as they have failed or neglected to carry their political base into their new party.
Thirdly, they could just be simply political paper weights in their various constituencies whose promises are empty and incapable of guaranteeing any political success for anyone. Many political leaders in various Wards and Local Governments are mere political leeches and lepers whose support are not to be rejected because politics is a game of numbers and in politics you do not order anyone to get out but pull all closer for number. Furthermore, Andy Uba equally wrongly assumed that all his party supporters, particularly his competitors in the primary election by which he emerged the candidate of his party, had worked for his success during the election. If the agitation from this quarter is something to go by, those co-contestants could not have only refused to vote for him but would have actively worked against his interest.
This is best captured in the Yoruba saying, “maa jo lo, mo n wo eyin e” which literally means “go ahead, I am behind you”, a deceptive saying of pushing someone into trouble while assuring him of unfailing support not meant to be fulfilled. Did he net out this from his calculation? Certainly, these are factors germane for his consideration in taking a decision. Beyond the above, the outcome of the election reveals the lie told by the outcome of the primary election by which Andy Uba emerged the candidate of APC.
It shows how credible the primary was which is an endorsement of our argument that direct primary election is a ruse? If an aspirant could allegedly poll over two hundred and forty thousand votes at the primary election that produced him but rather ended up with forty thousand votes in the general election, this either speaks volume of the candidate in terms of general perception and acceptance of him, or the quality of the nomination process. Even if no outsider voted for Ubah, his party faithfuls alone could have earned him victory considering that the total number of votes by which Soludo won the election was just slightly above one hundred and twelve thousand votes.
This certainly is not so as the house is fabricated on fraud as variously alleged by his competitors. This is part of deceitful acts of politicians as a winner of such unbelievable votes at primary election could not have been so heavily trounced at the general election. In addition, Andy Uba forgets the endemic issues of Biafran agitations and the seeming genocide going on in the State, perpetrated by his ruling party. that alone could sway public sentiments against any candidate presented by APC and definitely the outcome is not very likely to be favourable.
The Federal Government has not been able to control the agitations for the independence of Biafra and the response by force against the agitators has been greatly endangering peace in Anambra State and some other States of the Eastern parts of the country.
The general perception of APC in the Eastern States is nothing really to claim popularity on. The leaders of the party know and they are only struggling against the obvious. Another factor is the influence of the Catholic Church which cannot equally be underestimated in the State.
The pattern has been consistent that the most popular party in that State in the past few elections has been APGA and many residents and indigenes of the State are Catholic in orientation. There is no doubt that religion has a great role to play in the politics of Nigeria and where the polarization is not between people of different faiths, inter-denominational differences within the same religion have always been of considerable relevance even where the candidates are of the same faith.
Majority of the people in Anambra State are sympathetic to candidates of APGA whose religious leanings have been more Catholic and this might have counted in favour of the candidate of the party as well. Any form of sentiment expressed by the Church has a weight substantial enough to sway the people. Aside from the above, the credentials of the candidate of APGA, Professor Chukwuma Soluda, is a factor influential enough to tilt the scale in his favour as it was reported that people even rejected financial rewards in voting for candidates of their choice in a number of constituencies. While vote buying has been a terrible reflection in our electoral process in recent times, there have been occasions that money and its influences have been put to shame.
The case of Osun gubernatorial election in 2014 in which neither the financial chest of PDP nor the federal might was sufficient to guarantee victory for the candidate of PDP, is quite instructive.
The candidate of APGA in this instance displayed a colourful credential of someone with the intellectual sagacity required to navigate State governance which many of his opponents do not possess. His performances during the campaigns were sterling as to make genuine political forecasters to cast feel the opinion poll in his favour. Aside from spiritual charlatans who felt that federal might of rigging would be sufficient to guarantee victory for the candidate of APC and, were, therefore, predisposed to casting the augury beads in his favour, nobody took the electoral fortunes of the candidates with such reckless predictions.
In sum, I believe it is better for Mr. Andy Ubah to rather learn from the present experience and start preparing against the next election rather than wasting further resources on litigation. Charity may put him in better stead if he still has surplus. It is once in a millennium that Imo State electoral fortune of 2019 happens to a people. While approaching the election petition tribunal is a civilized way of ventilating his grievances against the outcome of the election,
it is certain that such step would only enrich lawyers’ pockets whose seasons of prosperity are higher during election petitions. However, another gambit of politicians is to cry wolf and rigging after an election that they knew in the innermost parts of their hearts they would lose.
The reason behind this strategy is to use the period when the election petition lingers from the Tribunal to the Supreme Court to keep their supporters together in the hope that judicial miracle could still happen. In the interregnum while lawyers engage in legal fireworks, the tendency of defection from the petitioner party to the ruling party is kept to the barest minimum as politicians hope against smug optimism. If the plan of Mr. Ubah is to achieve the latter, it is worth the effort as 40,000 voters are worth keeping in preparation for another electoral season when additions may be achieved.
Other than that, it is better for Mr. Ubah to play against the conscience of a fool whose money sooner parts ways with his pocket. The above depicts the characteristic thinking of Nigerian politicians most times. I am therefore not shocked, nor perturbed by the reaction of the All progressives congress in this regard. A word however, as they say, is surely enough for the wise…
Note: This article was originally published by Sun Newspaper on 18/11/2021