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INEC Debacle in Anambra State

I was in Nigeria just before the November 16, gubernatorial election.  Run up to the election was great.  The gubernatorial candidates conducted themselves in a professional manner.  The major candidates appear to be well educated, knowledgeable and in command of the issues.  The debate conducted by the National Election Debating Group (NEDG) was conducted in a very disciplined and professional manner.  The quality of the debate was no different from what you see in gubernatorial elections in United States.  The debate moderators held candidates feet to the fire during the debates.  They did not allow any of them to ramble around.  The major candidates which consists of Willie Obiano of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Dr, Chris Ngige of All Progessive Congress (APC), Tony Nwoye of People’s Democratic Party(PDP), Ifeanyi Ubah of Labor Party (LP) and Godwin Ezeemo of the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) seem smart, distinguished and accomplished in their careers going by the what I saw on the ground.

 

The D-Day for all these preparations has come and gone.  November 16 was the day that will live in infamy in the life of Anambra people.  The day Ananmbra state electorates was suppose to choose who will lead them for the next 4 years turned into a nightmare.  Anambra people clearly came out to vote but many of them could not find their names in the voter’s register thus unable to vote.  There was massive irregularities by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC ) officials which lead INEC to declare the result inconclusive.  Some electoral officers was arrested and under interrogation at the moment.  PDP candidate,Tony Nwoye and his family members could not vote because their names was not in the voter’s register.

 

Idemili North Local Government Area which is the stronghold of former Governor Chris Ngige recorded the highest number of vote cancellation.  Over 89,997 votes were canceled in Idemili Local government Area.  A hapless attempt was made by INEC to rectify the situation in one Idemili Local government town called Obosi.  The attempt to repair the damage turned out to be a nonstarter and wholly insufficient.  INEC have now decided to conduct supplementary election in more polling stations they think irregularities took place on November 30, 2013.  They are hoping that this will ameliorate the situation.

 

APC, PDP and LP candidates have denounced the election and the upcoming supplementary election and wants outright cancellation of the election and a rerun.  APC has said that they will not take part in the supplementary election.

 

The fraud perpetuated by some INEC officials in this election is shameful and a black eye on Nigeria.  The fraud was sophisticated and perpetuated through disenfranchisement via intentional mess up of some voter’s register in opposition strongholds so their supporters  will not be able to find their names in the voter’s register thus cannot vote.  It is a sanitized and sophisticated vote rigging.  Stuffing and snatching ballot boxes use to be popular vote rigging technique in the past.  There were very few ballot stuffing and snatching this time around.  Before the election, APC candidate expressed his dismay and lack of confidence in Anambra state INEC officals which I regarded as crying wolf like Nigerian politicians do before and after each election.  But APC candidate predictions appears to have been borne out by the facts.  INEC even admitted that some of their officials perpetuated the frauds.  They insisted that the affected officials has been arrested and handed over to law enforcement officials for interrogation and prosecution.

 

The credibility of INEC is at stake in this election.  INEC was suppose to show their expertise and demonstrate that they have gotten their act together.  Anambra  gubernatorial election was suppose to be the big outing for INEC and opportunity to show that they are ready for 2015 presidential election.  They ended up achieving the opposite of what they set out to do because of the corruption and incompetence among their ranks.  Nigerians are now more worried and concerned about INEC competency after this election than they were going in.   Most Nigerians are asking themselves how INEC can conduct 2015 presidential election if they cannot conduct election in one state.

 

They have now scheduled supplementary elections on November 30 to salvage this election and their credibility.  The problem they have is that this election is so flawed that it cannot be fixed by supplementary election.  INEC need to swallow their pride and admit that this election cannot be fixed.  Outright cancellation and rerun is the only solution that makes sense at this stage.  I understand that cancellation may set a bad precedent but it is the lesser of the two bad options.  This action is necessary so that confidence in INEC will be restored.  Trying to amend this flawed election will be an exercise in futility.   INEC may be hoping that the court will take this hot potato out of their hand by ordering cancellation of this flawed and irredeemable election.  That may well happen but INEC should not have released any result so they will have the flexibility of cancellation of the result if necessary, do a rerun and move on.  It is the only way to clean this mess and restore INEC credibility.  As Anambrarian, any of the major candidates will be acceptable to me as governor but the eventual winner must win fair and square.

 



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