T he Anambra State governorship election held on the 6th November, 2021 has come and gone but the lessons are there for those that care to imbibe them. Anambra State used to be one of those states where godfathers used to turn its electoral field into a ‘domicile’ battle ground from its creation by General Ibrahim Babangida in 1991 it has always been commercial buccaneers’ turf as they hijacked the treasury through vile contextual instruments whereby phony debts were sequestered direct from the Federal Ministry of Finance and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) direct to the beneficiaries.
That was under the military administration to effect that for years after its creation it was using rented private buildings for state offices including the Government House. Then came the civilian government under the 1999 Constitution and that vile practice was carried Mr Chinwoke Mbadinuju from Ihiala was rendered helpless as he had to work his way out of the quagmire and succeeds only to got his salary and that of his commissioners and other high public officials.
The teachers and other low-level officials were mortgaged under the direct cash transfer to state creditors, most of whom were not known to the government. Governor Mbadinuju later fell out with his godfathers and they took him out of the state house and the office they gave to one seemingly poor retired civil servant.
Dr Nwabueze Ngige Governor Ngige was successful but then the godfathers bared their fangs to cut out their investment and recoup the same. On this gamble of recouping their investments on his election and installation as a governor, Governor Ngige either out of his own selfish interest of not having enough to service his gubernatorial expenses and personal needs demurred and challenged the right of the godfather to seize at source the federal allocations from Abuja. The godfathers were not amused at the impudence of this poor civil servant turned governor and they swore to teach him a lesson. Meanwhile before their endorsements of Dr. Ngige as a governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) they had extracted a promise that he would not rock the boat. To ensure compliance, they raced the promise with a juju oath at Okija Ogwugwu shrine which serves instant death or other near-capital and heinous punishments upon breach.
To make assurance double-sure, the godfathers got Dr. Ngige to execute a pre-signed anticipatory ‘Resignation Letter of the Office of the Governor’ which the godfathers alone had custody and would be ready for enforcement at the State House of Assembly upon the machinery being set in motion by the godfathers. You can imagine the entire scenario of the state institutions being laid prostrate at the why and caprice of private individuals. This shows that Nigeria is a kleptocratic state, and it shows every day.
One fateful day, Governor Ngige was disarmed by the Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of Zone 9 at Umuahia and bundled to Enugu in Enugu State where he was detained and held incommunicado for hours while an impeachment exercise or the enforcement of the resignation was being processed at the state House of Assembly at Awka, his state capital.
By Providence, he was allowed to make a phone call to the then Vice President, Abubakar Atiku who intervened and brought the high wire politics into public reckoning and attention. Consequently, the news got viral and the powers that be panicked and consequently released Governor Ngige and from there the whole intrigue unravelled. Governor Ngige was able after this debacle to serve out his terms as governor and made a breakthrough of breaking out from the cocoon of the godfathers which enabled him to achieve modest successes in governance and infrastructural development.
After Governor Ngige, Peter Obi broke away from the Peoples Democratic Party to join Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu to found the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and on that platform contested for governorship of the state and won but the victory was snatched from him but being a dogged fighter, he went to court all the way to the Supreme Court and won back the electoral victory. Governor Obi ruled Anambra State with uncommon wisdom and technocratic ability and made several achievements that have stood the state on the road to prosperity and progress. Since then, the politics of Anambra State has been defined by a steady improvement in electoral fidelity as the people never look back in supporting APGA despite its failings as the people reason and conduct their political life in accordance with that Igbo proverb that a bird at hand is worth two at the bush.
To Anambra people, APGA may not be the best of idealistic political parties but it is preferable to the buccaneers that are masquerading in the other parties especially post 2015 political era. However, the greatest lessons one can take from the recent election are the good faith and sincerity shown to the electoral process even when there were certain dangers to exercise that franchise.
The people, even though harassed never succumbed to exercise of brutal and raw power as APGA government and party were harassed with gale of decampments from the executive branch and the legislature to rival political parties yet they delivered a devastating judgment and an electoral sucker punch against the stomach-infrastructure politicians. Another major lesson for every Nigerian is to note with sober rectitude is that the Nigerian electoral infrastructure is built with fraud.
It must have been clear to Nigerians that the voting strength of the real political community of each state of the federation is phantom data. The registers have been an incremental build-up of false data year in year out without any review or reconstruction. A review of the previous elections shows that the INEC voter’s register is a fraud like the population census of Nigeria. Anambra State has a voting strength of 2.5 million voters.
In the 2013 election, 448, 711 voters voted out of the over two million registered voters. In the 2017 election, 465, 891 voters participated out of the nearly two million voters. But in the years of rigging, voters’ turn was impressive but it was false. So, in 1999, 1,029,815 voters out of total registered voters of 2,221,384 voted.
In 2003, 878,212 voters out of 1,859,795 registered voters voted. In 2010, 301,232 voters out of 1,844,815 registered voters voted. In 2021, 2,525,471 are registered voters but less than 300,000 voters turned out, and by these trends it goes to collaborate the 2010, 2013 and 2017 election when rigging was checked. Any interested person can juxtapose Nigeria’s presidential poll results since 1999 to the 1993 June 12 Presidential Poll results to know that most elections since 1999 have been fraudulent manipulation of figures and data.
Let us get the lesson that until Nigeria is returned to the people by way of changing the present state structure and constitutional framework every political process will be driven and determined by kleptocratic principles which are based on lies and theft.