Fresh anxiety trails Anambra governorship election


• Like PDP’s Ozigbo, Uba postpones APC’s campaign flag-off

• No fewer than 30 innocent lives have been lost- ADC Chairman Nwosu

• There can’t be an election when nobody is safe – Chekwas Okorie

• What Igbo stakeholders must do for election to hold- Ohanaeze

Fresh anxiety is trailing the November 6 governorship election in Anambra following the worsening state of insecurity in the state.Peoples Democratic Party flagbearer, Valentine Ozigbo, temporarily suspended his campaign rallies on Friday, citing the rising spate of killings in the state as reason for the suspension.

His All Progressives Congress (APC) counterpart, Andy Uba, also postponed the flag-off rally for his campaign scheduled for yesterday, Saturday, October 2, 2021.Uba, in a statement issued on Friday, said his party would not play politics with people’s lives, adding that the decision was taken to honour those killed in recent attacks across the state.There have been several attacks by gunmen in the state over the past weeks, leading to destruction of properties and killings, including the recent murder of Chike Akunyili, husband of the late Dora Akunyili, ex-minister of information and communications.Decrying the dangers the killings pose to the forthcoming election, National Chairman of African Democratic Congress, ADC, Ralphs Okey Nwosu, told our correspondent that not less than 30 innocent lives have been lost to mindless killings in the state in recent times.In a WhatsApp message he titled ‘Anambra as the Electoral War front’ and sent in response to our correspondent’s question, Nwosu said: “Not less than 30 innocent lives have been lost in Anambra State in what I must say has to do with November 6, 2021, Anambra governorship election. It started with the tragic incident involving two security personnel attached to APGA’s Charles Soludo.“Since then, many more persons were murdered callously. Until the massive onslaught of this and penultimate weeks, most people had attributed the killings to IPOB and their Monday lock down promulgation. Some pointed fingers to state operatives and the herdsmen. But reflecting back to what transpired during the party primaries or candidate selection processes of the so called two major political parties and APGA, the picture seems to be getting clearer. The desperation of members of the ruling parties is painting our democracy in human blood not to talk of violation of court processes and the judiciary. The APC, PDP and APGA have brought a new form of Boko Haram to the Southeast and the judiciary. When Soludo’s security men were killed, everyone thought it to be a plot outside politics. But barely 5weeks to the election the war in APGA is still on with Soludo and Governor Obiano unperturbed while APGA members move in droves to the APC.”

Within the PDP, the ADC chair regretted that there had been a series of court injunctions and free spree of dollars causing chaos. “Some of their heavy war chest contenders have potted to new platforms with their concocted chalice. The APC had settled their primary in hotels not in the wards as the direct primary process requires. Within the week of the PDP, APC and APGA primaries, gun men occupied most of the hotels and roamed the various wards and constituencies in Anambra state. Bullion vans stood by in the banks within the capital city of Awka doling out money for grand purchase of the entire process.“All the war happened within those parties before and during their primaries and made the outcome of their events toxic. Now the toxicity has gone into the larger field of contestation and the pungency is so corrosive and has consumed about 20 lives in less than one week. There is no other way to explain what is happening in Anambra. It is APGA, PDP and APC desperados in a dangerous power war of a new sort.”He further said: “I had listened to Profs Utomi, Jega and a host of very erudite others talk about electronic collation of polls results and the lukewarm attitudes of the National Assembly to electoral integrity. More than 98percent of the members of the National Assembly are members of the same parties. Electoral integrity means nothing to those who can murder for vote or those who give no hoot to fraudulent emptying of the nation’s treasury only because they are in public service.

“To correctly rejig our democracy rests on all of us, especially those truly pained by how low the nation has sunk under the illusion of democracy. To avoid further bloodshed in Anambra State, the Inspector General of police, DGs of all the security intelligence agencies, leaders of political parties and the candidates must hold a summit within the next couple of days. Also there should be an emergency judiciary meeting to take hard and patriotic decisions on APC, PDP, APGA and all that potted after their primaries. These are the people who are transferring their corrosive culture of win by gun, hook or crook to the larger environment. INEC has the records and can facilitate the peace.”Speaking on the implications of the killings for the forthcoming election if efforts are not made to resolve the problems, All Progressives Congress chieftain, Chief Chekwas Okorie, said it is left to anybody’s guess. “How can there be an election when nobody is safe to go about? I am in the South East as we speak. All the roads that soldiers mounted road blocks in Igboland, those soldiers have disappeared because they lack the confidence and capacity to confront the suicidal attackers. These attackers are suicidal.“The roads are now empty leaving all of us to be facing these non- state actors. That the Ohanaeze did not do the Igbo Day celebration on September 29 as planned, that campaign rallies are being suspended is not because of what they are saying that they are honouring the dead. It is because the place is unsafe. I am an APC chieftain. Look at the people that are in Andy Uba Campaign Organisation, practically all the governors of the APC and all the stalwarts, and it is expected that either the President or the Vice President would have been there today but who will allow his own relation, or which wife will allow her husband to go to Anambra or any part of Igboland at this time?“If those with all the security details are afraid to come in, what then happens to the ordinary voters? He will stay in his house on the day of the election. If that happens, INEC has already said if there is no election in Anambra, there would be a constitutional crisis.”He however expressed optimism that the crisis can be tamed. “We can halt this thing. The Niger Delta militancy was handled. We are talking about dousing the tension that is here before talking about the election.“The elections should be held. If the election does not hold, then Nigeria would have surrendered to non- state actors. That is not to be allowed. But there is something that is making the southeast a difficult place to do business or politics and that itself is the issue of secessionist agitation by the IPOB with its militant wing known as ESN. My suggestion to end that problem is for the government without further delay to engage the principal actors of this group in a dialogue. The Southeast caucus of the National Assembly led by Ekweremmadu made a unanimous decision to engage the government in a dialogue that will reduce the tension in the Southeast or if possible eliminate it. I urge the President to take advantage of that offer being made. It is on record that no effort has been made before now by the Federal Government to engage the leaders of the separatist group in a dialogue. This is the time to do it.”He further said: “The president has already shown tremendous capacity to forgive as a father. He has shown that in many instances, the most recent one being the one of Fani Kayode. If it was possible for someone to use word of mouth to bring down this government, FFK did all of that. If it was possible to use the word of mouth to destroy Nigeria and disintegrate it, he did all of that not to talk of personal attack to the first family yet the president did not only receive him into Aso Rock but he also gave him a red carpet reception in the presidency.“I am confident that he has the capacity to authorise dialogue. Even if he is not going to be directly involved, he can authorize dialogue with the separatist groups namely Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho. That will give him a good legacy of leaving a less divided Nigeria. Nigeria is almost at a brink of collapse and he can save it. It is an appeal and not an order that I am making.

“This is my candid, sincere, and dispassionate appeal to President Buhari. I am making myself available, if so desired by this government, to be part of that process of dialogue. I have the sufficient goodwill to do something but not without mandate. There must be a mandate to do so.”

Igbo stakeholders must meet to stop killings – Ohanaeze

National spokesman of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Alex Ogbonnia said that there is need for a reorientation about the need for everybody to cooperate for Anambra to hold the election. “Anambra is the most organized state in Nigeria. The road network and everything about the state is organized and exemplary. Anambra is the economic nerve centre of the entire South East region and beyond. What is happening in Anambra is painful not only to the Southeast but the whole Nigeria.“There is the need for we the elders of Igboland to organize a seminar for a reorientation of Anambra youths and find a way to sort out these criminals so that they will face justice. We need to come together so that what is happening in Anambra would stop, so that there would be an election to elect a credible person that will continue to develop the state.”On the agitators’ claim they were not responsible for the killings, Ogbonnia said: “IPOB started the agitation but unfortunately, miscreants cashed in on it and hijacked it and gave it a criminal colouration. Both the IPOB and everybody will have to come together now. When you talk about sit-at- home, IPOB has said no more to it but you see some people enforcing it. It requires the collaboration of both the IPOB and other stakeholders in Igboland to agree that there is no longer sit- at -home, and need for violence. It is true that IPOB may not be involved in what is happening but it was what they started that miscreants have cashed in on and given criminal colouration.“IPOB is saying the treatment of the Igbo is unfair and it is either you treat us well or we live. I remember one state in the north where they were bargaining with herdsmen and kidnappers and they were discussing how much they would pay them for them to stop what they are doing. Ohanaeze is saying that if they could be bargaining with those people on how much you will pay them, you can as well dialogue with IPOB to know their problem and meet the solution halfway. The President in his Independence speech mentioned dialogue and unity. Let us embark on that one and dialogue with them so that we can meet them halfway. It is unfair for the President to keep quiet, leave IPOB and go on bargaining with terrorists. It is wrong and an injustice.

There can be peace without justice.”Despite the odds, he said: “I am sure the election will hold. I don’t want to be pessimistic. The election will hold. Surely it must hold. We are Igbo. We will know how to solve the problem.”The Chairman, Anambra Civil Society Network (ACSONET), Prince Chris Azor said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should go ahead with the election, arguing that any shift would further embolden detractors whose target was to cow the government into submission.He also urged political parties to commit to violence free election by signing peace accords, just as he called on governments at all levels to engage stakeholders in dialogue and conflict resolution and management.He said, “INEC should go ahead with Anambra Governorship election, 2021. This is because an official date has been fixed for the exercise. Again, it’s necessary in order not to acquiesce to the wishes of detractors who want to intimidate and cow us into submission and surrender.“Moreso, the security Agencies have not indicated their inability to ensure adequate security and safety during the exercise. However, innovative security Strategies should be deployed to check the current obvious threats to the conduct of the election.“INEC should work with other stakeholders to put security and safety measures in place for a free, fair, credible and peaceful election come November 6, 2021.“All political Parties should commit to violence free, hate speech free and fake news free election, by signing Peace Accords. There is also a need for intensified Voter Education and information by all major stakeholders.“Governments at state and federal levels should engage citizens and sundry stakeholders in dialogues/peace building and conflict resolution/ management.“Civil Society and media should sensitize, set an agenda, educate citizens to ensure transparency and accountability and peaceful credible election.“Security stakeholders should up their game and coordinate intelligence gathering and rapid response. Citizens should cooperate with the authorities in Election Risk Management (ERM)On his part, State Coordinator, Not Too Young To Rule, Nonso Orakwe, said the call for shift of the exercise was unnecessary, insisting the exercise could still go on despite the prevailing circumstances.Orakwe who is also the Executive Director, Catch Them Young Community Initiative called on the state government to rise to its responsibility of protecting the lives of the citizens, while the media should intensify its sensitization campaign.He said, “There’s no point shifting the election. I suggest the media should raise more sensitization on citizens to own the election irrespective of the security threats everywhere.“Our governor should bring back hope to the populace by taking drastic action. I’m not in support of shifting it.”


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