You would have noticed that a lot of propaganda has gone into this question of rating the commission. There is much talk that the election was credible, free and fair. But there was no credible voter register. People were denied their voting right. Disenfranchisement was about 80 percent. If you came to vote you were not allowed because the name is not in the voter register but you have the voter registration card. So, people use words at random without knowing their full implications.
The election in Anambra is in consonance with every election that has been organised by INEC. Voting materials were not brought on time, voting did not commence at 9 am to 4 pm as we were told. In my own town it started by 1:20 pm and the supervisors closed shop by 3:30 pm. They said they know nothing about 4 o’clock. Voters’ register was not in conformity with the people registered to vote and there was general confusion. Finding one man’s name took up to 20 minutes in most centres especially in areas that are my voting strength. It occurred generally but the intensity was graded. If you go to a place like Anaocha which is Peter Obi’s place this kind of confusion was only ten percent intensity and to ameliorate the situation they quickly rushed in special voter register, quickly rushed in instruction to allow people whose names were not in the register to vote. This has been a scientific way of rigging and it is rigging at the source.
I take my family for example, we are about 4000 in the Ngige family of Alor, we are about 1500 registered voters out of which on voting day only 13 people saw their names and voted. In Idenmili South Local Government Area where I come from, there are 107 thousand registered voters and only 17 thousand people voted. In Idemili North 105 thousand registered voters overall on the day of election not more than 15 thousand people voted. The two local government areas alone have a voter capacity of about 208 000 votes and I am their son contesting the election and they turned out from everywhere to vote for me only for just about 30 000 to vote. People like Chief Emeka Anyaoku the former Common Wealth scribe and his people in Obosi could not vote. They brought election materials to that place by 4 pm and disenfranchised the 35 000 voters there.
On election day when the governor did not know that they were going to rush in a special voter register to his areas to help him, when he thought that from the results tumbling in he had lost the election, he called a press conference in the government house to denounce the election, saying that the election was a sham. But by the time he was reassured that the special voter register had been sent to his areas of strength, because they started bringing the register around 1 pm and APGA sympathisers that brought their cards were allowed to vote while other Anambrarians were disenfranchised because one man needed to be governor and even at that he garnered only 97 000 votes. Even with all the financial inducement to voters at polling stations by his commissioners and other cronies he was able to get only those votes.
Now check it, 301 000 people voted. He got 97 000. So, we still have 204 000 that said this man can’t be our governor and they are in the majority. They form about 70 percent saying no; he cannot be governor. And to even accentuate it they denied him the spread in the 21 local government areas. The Constitution says even if you have the majority votes you must also have the spread of one quarter of votes cast in two/thirds of the local government areas in the state; that is 14 local government areas. He couldn’t do that but INEC went ahead and declared him winner and said anyone who doesn’t want should go to court.
You have identified so many pitfalls but it seems your emphasis is on the issue of failure of the winner to get the required two-thirds of the local government areas
That is the one that is sticking out like a sour tomb and the Constitution is the grand norm. Even if the Constitution is faulty it has not been amended and INEC is not above the Constitution. INEC is a creation of the Constitution it derives all it powers from the Constitution. So, if anything breaches the Constitution of the land it is a gross abuse. That is why I am highlighting that. The other aspect of disenfranchising the Anambra people statistics are there. That out of 1.885 million people that registered to vote only 301 thousand voted. That is 17 percent of the registered voters and it is only 2.1 percent of the people in Anambra state with a population of about 4.5 million. So 97 000 people have said that this man should be governor for 4.5 million people; how does this sound to you?
But other contestants have congratulated the winner.
When the results were released by INEC, some of my friends called me and said I should congratulate Governor Obi. People I respect called me but I said no, I will not congratulate him because of two reasons. One is that I was collating field reports from my field officers. I am a politician. You don’t just, because a result is presented to you, you take a hasty decision. I said let me collate my own results.
Secondly, I had my queries on some of the results that were released by INEC. I had worries with some results from some local government areas when INEC brought them in and they were shooting up abnormally. When I saw that INEC had announced a wrong result, I decided to await the authentic results before I could proceed. I am not a man who is hasty in decision, I was a civil servant and rose to become a director. I don’t jump to conclusion. That people have congratulated him doesn’t mean anything to me because by my nature and upbringing I don’t mind if I am the lone voice so far as I believe that I stand for the truth. Professor Chukwuma Soludo has seen the light with me and he has withdrawn his congratulation and said he is going to court. Some other candidates are also out there saying they are going to court based on the disenfranchisement and some on the issues of the court judgment that said INEC as presently constituted cannot conduct election and because of that they did not campaign anymore so they did not participate.
The Anambra election is believed to be a test for the 2011 general elections; do you have any fears going by your assessment of the election?
I don’t know, but you use the morning to know what the rest of the day will be. INEC has conducted the election and it was a lone state election. They moved all their personnel from the remaining states of the federation and did away with ad-hoc staff. In future elections they cannot do away with ad-hoc staff. The ad-hoc staff they will use will need to be trained. In this election, they used their permanent staff, yet the materials did not come on time.
I am in support of restructuring of INEC into three components, especially the one that will compile the voters register. Let it be linked with the civic registration system of the country. Another body should be in charge of logistics and then the last one should take care of training, posting and mobilization, as well as collating and announcing the report. It was a very wise recommendation that Uwais and his people made and the time to implement the report is now.
The report should be implemented fully by the Acting President. If nothing, let the Acting President give Nigerians electoral reform even if he does nothing else before 2011 election. I was having my doubts before but now it is clear that INEC as it is now is too heavy, it has to be restructured. I can tell you without any fear of equivocation that if INEC is left like this, the 2011 election will be a mirage. I don’t see them coping.
What do you intend to do now?
I am going to the court. My court papers will go in any moment from now because the registry of the tribunal is already in Awka. I am seeking for runoff and I have asked Governor Obi not to present himself for swearing in because he knows that a runoff is in the offing as an implication of the inconclusive elections of the 6th of February. If he is a man that believes in the rule of law and the Constitution he should not go to be sworn in for second term. He decline take that profane mandate.