By Luke Onyekakeyah
Going by the reports of the November 18 governorship election in Anambra State, the exercise was generally peaceful and remarkable. The desire to vote exceeded the fear that was generated. The few hitches were not unexpected in an election of that magnitude. That would make for improvements. The peace was contrary to all the vicious speculations that violence would overtake the election.
As a matter of fact, the election turned out to be one of the best, if not the best the country has ever had in recent times. The entire exercise has given hope that Nigeria could still do better in her match to democracy. Kudos to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for a good job.
According to the results released by INEC, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) incumbent Governor Willie Obiano, won by landslide in all the 27 local government areas of the state with a total of 234,071 votes. That was historic in Nigeria.
His closest rival Tony Nwoye of the All Progressives Congress (APC) came second with 98,752 votes; Oseloka Obaze of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) took third with 70,593 votes, Godwin Ezeemo of the Progressives People’s Alliance (PPA) came fourth with 29,787 votes and Osita Chidoka of United Progressives Party (UPP) took fifth with 7,903 votes. There is nothing exceptional since, like in every examination, some get distinction while some get very good, good, fair etc. It simply shows the strength of the candidates at the time of the examination.
In his acceptance speech, Obiano declared that the victory belongs all of Anambra people. Anambra is the winner he said. The governor extended a hand of brotherhood to his fellow contestants… Oseloka, Tony, Osita, Godwin and others to join him “to build a new world!”
Obiano declared: “The interest of Anambra State is bigger than the private ambitions of anyone of us…Therefore, I pray you to join hands with me and build a better place for Ndi Anambra. Our beloved state needs our talent and our time. The time to build a better place is NOW.”
That, exactly, is the thrust of this comment, that all the contestants should join forces to make Anambra remain on top. It is no exaggeration to say that there is no state like Anambra in Nigeria. The spirit of Anambra State is not found elsewhere in Nigeria. Anambra is exceptional in every ramification.
I have once stated in this column that Anambra State has no rival in Nigeria. Anambra people combine intellectual capacity with political wizardry and financial power. Anambra State has the largest number of billionaires in Nigeria. The people have the largest investment and are the most migratory. They are the most forward looking. If every part of Nigeria develops like Anambra State, the entire country would be transformed.
That being the case, truth is that each of the contestants has something to offer the state in terms of development re-engineering. This is the time for each contestant to join forces with the governor to make the state better. If Anambra is good, it is good for everybody; if it is bad, it is bad for everybody.
For instance, the exceptional road infrastructure in Anambra State is there for the people’s pleasure. Most states across the federation have impassable roads but Anambra is different. The roads were not built by the Federal Government but by Anambra people. Progressive governance is paying off in Anambra and this should continue.
The Anambra election is remarkable in so many ways. All the elections conducted in some states across the federation have been marred with serious contentions. The experience in Rivers State is particularly noteworthy. The success of the Anambra poll has made Governor Nyesom Wike to call on the INEC to replicate the same feat in Rivers State. INEC is encouraged to adapt its Anambra model in future elections.
But the election wouldn’t have been a success if the contestants did not comport themselves. Despite losing to Obiano, all the contestants demonstrated unusual and extraordinary disposition that are not found in Nigerian politicians.
For the third time, we have an election in which all the leading contestants promptly congratulated the winner. Former Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi (APC), started the laudable trend, when in June 2014, after he lost the governorship election, promptly conceded defeat and congratulated the winner, Ayodele Fayose of the PDP, even though he later went to court to contest it.
Thereafter, former president Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015, even before the final results of the hotly contested presidential election were announced, quickly congratulated the winner, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Muhammadu Buhari and conceded defeat. The PDP did not contest the result in court, which was unusual. That was the first presidential election result in the country that was not contested in court.
In the case of Anambra, it is thumbs up for Dr. Tony Nwoye (APC), Oseloka Obaze (PDP), Osita Chidoka (UPP) and Godwin Ezeemo, (PPA). Apart from Obaze who initially appeared to reject the conduct and outcome of the election but quickly recanted, it is remarkable that the election has become the first governorship poll in the country that was not contested in court.
It baffles that this is happening in Anambra State, hitherto thought to be the epitome of contentious election culture. I must also commend Dr. Andy Ubah, who sought the governorship ticket under the APC and lost but still took it with equanimity. His candour and comportment are laudable.
Quite unlike him, he didn’t start a fight with the APC of Tony Nwoye after he was edged out. Reports say he even went ahead to campaign for Dr. Nwoye. All this show that politicians are maturing and are ready to act like real sportsmen who must either win or lose in any contest and it ends there.
Anambra is bigger than any individual or group. All the contestants are ndi Anambra. Therefore, the winner should be supported in the public interest. The thousands of Anambra electorates who trooped out to vote have faith in the system. Irrespective of who they voted for, one thing is common in their mind; they want change, an improved living condition.
Nigerians should be happy that the days are going when fraudulent elections were the norm; when thugs had a field day and favoured individuals were imposed on the polity. Obiano should reciprocate the overwhelming votes he garnered by doubling his effort to make life much better. That would justify the choice of the people.