What happened during the November 18 election in Anambra
State was a shame of the highest order. A combination of highly monetized politicking, arm twisting of several groups, vote buying, ICT compromise, desperation to return at all costs, operation deliver at all costs, vendetta and vindictive election deal, money for hand back for ground style and betrayal at its peak.
The dust is beginning to settle and the public has been regaled with tales of some individuals who has confessed how they produce governors from their guest house, a party stalwart of APC in the state whose report of how some party leaders diverted into their private pockets, cash meant to be dispensed in the field, several agents and stakeholders of APGA caught on camera distributing and collecting PVC s in exchange for cash, open vote buying and haggling of prices , display of thumb printed ballot papers to authenticate that payments made were justified , lamentations by the PDP over the double standard played by their party agents and stakeholders in the field etc.
The APGA perpetrators of this heinous electoral heist included party leaders, agents, landlords, market leaders and even some so called church leaders. It was a coordinated deal in such a way that too much fund was allegedly provided by the incumbent governor that at the shortage of any cash for this sordid deal in any polling booth, only a phone call away and another cash tranche will be made available without fuss in a jiffy.
Reconciling the figures there was a shortfall of 8540 accredited voters who never voted whereas INEC said it effectively used the simultaneous accreditation and voting pattern. The discrepancy in this figures casts a pall of doubt in INEC’s transparency more so when there were allegations of preloading some of the card readers with voters cards before the election and the alleged collection of PVCs and their serial numbers from civil servants in the state before the election which were not investigated by the security agencies or probed by INEC.
The Nigeria Electoral Act 2010 as amended criminalized vote buying and not maintaining secrecy doing voting. Section 124 of the Act prescribed a penalty of 12 months imprisonment or maximum fine of N500, 000 or both for the offence of Bribery and Conspiracy during election which includes paying money to any other person for bribery at any election or receiving money or gift for voting or to refrain from voting at any election.
The same Electoral Act 2010 in section 125 prescribed a penalty of N100, 000 or to imprisonment for a term of 6 months or both for the offence of not maintaining the secrecy of voting at a polling unit or interfering with a voter casting his vote.
This situation like we earlier stated is a dangerous precedent which has already endangered the democratic process in Anambra and will likely have a contagious effect in the 2019 general elections across different states in Nigeria. When elections are won through vote buying, the best candidate with a lean purse will eventually be shoved aside while the money bag who may not have tangible positive things to offer will emerge. The situation will entrench mediocrity, bad governance and cash and carry mentality which will have ripple effects with the citizens and the poor masses bearing the big brunt.
It was only the various actors who were allegedly mobilized to deliver without stories that actually clicked glasses amongst themselves for a job well done.
Obiano’s victory was like the desperate barren woman who wanted to have children at all costs and eventually bought a baby for a fee with the active connivance of the baby factory merchants after faking pregnancy for some months. While the uninformed public was rejoicing with her that God has actually answered her prayers by proving her a woman, she will be taking all the compliments with stoic calmness and feigned happiness because she and only her collaborators actually knew the whole truth about the procurement and behind the scene deals.
The next four years of the Obiano administration would either make him a hero or a villain. We pray and wish him the former and not the latter and we also urge the administration to welcome constructive criticisms which will guide it to success. Good Luck to him.
Comrade Aloysius Attah
South East Zone,
Civil Liberties Organization.