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Election over, it’s time to build Anambra

By Luke Onyekakeyah
16 November 2021   |   3:03 am
The emergence of Professor Chukwuma Soludo as the governor-elect in the just concluded governorship election in Anambra State has excited everyone. It is a pointer to a brighter future.

[FILES] Electoral officials cancel unused ballot papers at a polling station during the Anambra State governorship election at Uga, Aguata district in southeast Nigeria, on November 6, 2021. – Nigeria’s restive southeastern state of Anambra voted for a new governor on October 6, 2021, in a ballot seen as a test of the electoral system less than 18 months before presidential polls. More than 30,000 police have been dispatched to secure Anambra after a string of attacks in the southeast blamed on separatists from the Indigenous People of Biafra or IPOB who agitate for an independent state for the local Igbo people. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

The emergence of Professor Chukwuma Soludo as the governor-elect in the just concluded governorship election in Anambra State has excited everyone. It is a pointer to a brighter future. Both those within and outside the APGA party platform have expressed satisfaction with the outcome. The positive outcome shows that Nigeria, after all, could be redeemed if the governance structures are allowed to function without undue interference.

Going by the reports of the November 6 governorship election, the exercise was generally peaceful and remarkable despite the challenging condition. The desire of the people to vote exceeded the fear that was generated in the run-up to the election. The few hitches with the INEC machines were not unexpected in elections in Nigeria. That makes room for improvements. The peaceful atmosphere was contrary to all the vicious speculations and apprehension that violence would mar the election. But the reverse was the case; not even a single soul was lost during the election, which was highly commendable.

As a matter of fact, the election turned out to be one of the best, if not the best the country has 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), the police and the other security agencies for a job well done. The police were generally neutral and well behaved.

According to the results released by INEC, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) flag bearer, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo won by landslide in 19 local government areas out of 21 with a total of 112,229 votes. That followed the trend in the last election that returned the incumbent Governor Willie Obiano to the second term who won in all the local government areas of the state.

His closest rival, Mr. Valentine Ozigbo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won in one local government area with a total of 53,807 votes. Dr. Andy Uba of the All Progressives Congress (APC) took third with 43,285 votes; while Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah came fourth with 21,261 votes. There is nothing exceptional about the results 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. The people of Anambra preferred Soludo.

In his acceptance speech, Soludo acknowledged that the victory belongs to all the Anambra people. We are all winners, he told his fellow contestants. Anambra is the ultimate winner, he said. That way, he extended a hand of brotherhood to his fellow contestant to join him to build Anambra State.

No doubt, the interest of Anambra State is bigger than the private ambitions of any one of the contestants. These great achievers should join hands with Soludo to build a better Anambra. Anambra State needs the talents of these distinguished individuals to make the state a Taiwan in Nigeria. Why can’t a state separate itself from the bunch of irritants called states? 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-elect 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 far better to a large extent. The roads were not built by the Federal Government but by the 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 Edo State recently is noteworthy. The success of the Anambra poll has made it imperative for INEC to replicate the same feat in future elections including the 2023 poll. 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 Soludo, all the contestants demonstrated unusual and extraordinary dispositions that is not common in Nigerian politicians. The peace deal signed prior to the poll proper is a masterstroke.

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 commendable. That was the first presidential election result in the country that was not contested in court.

In the case of Anambra, Dr. Andy Ubah is yet to congratulate Soludo. Interestingly, President Buhari, leader of the APC, his party, has congratulated Soludo. Apart from Ubah who initially appeared to reject the conduct and outcome of the election, it is remarkable that the election has won the heart of everyone. Even the U.S. government has expressed satisfaction with the conduct and outcome of the poll.

It baffles that this is happening in Anambra State, hitherto thought to be the epitome of contentious election culture. I must commend Dr. Andy Ubah, who lost but still took it with equanimity. His candour and comportment are laudable.

All this show that our 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 trooped out to vote to have faith in the system. Irrespective of who they voted for, one thing is common in their mind; they want to change and improve living conditions.

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. Soludo should reciprocate the overwhelming votes he garnered by doubling his effort to make life much better. That would justify the choice of the people.