Nobody died. None of the governorship candidates was assassinated. No candidate had his campaign marred by opposing campaigns. The names of the competitors were not smeared by rivals. Voting was for the most part peaceful. Voters were able to return to their homes and continue with their lives. Those who did not find their names on the register went home without creating any scenes. For all these things we should be grateful.
But there were irregularities. The total votes cast of fewer than 300,000 represents just 17% of registered voters. This is sad. Each of the 17 Local Government Areas could have produced that many voters alone. There must have been more than 300,000 voters in Onitsha, Nnewi, Aguata and Orumba to name just a few. I visited each of these areas in December/January, mere two months ago. Anambra is in some ways like New York. People mill around in such numbers that human traffic light seems called for. There is usually no more room for even one additional person to step in. There seems to be a general agreement that the low number was not due to apathy but do to either low registration or missing registration.
Whatever is the cause of the low number, the blame for it rests squarely on the politicians and not on INEC. Elections are games of numbers. If you register more supporters you win. If you bring more of your supporters to the polls you win. If you don’t, you don’t. So in many other areas, politicians make sure that their supporters are registered. This is what the first leg of elections is about: voter registration. The parties apparently neglected to do this. How can one explain the fact that Ngige’s family members’ names were not on the register and other prominent Anambrarians?
When the voter register is published, it is the duty of the political parties to review the register to ensure that the names of their supporters are on the list and that all names on the register are genuine. This is how rigging, double voting, etc, are protected. Political Parties and their candidates failed Anambra people in this regard. INEC did its job by saying “this is the list I have.” It should have been challenged before the election.
There seems to have been late delivery of voting materials and late arriving INEC officials. This is not excusable. Nigerians are known to be late in many things, but proper training could have solved this irresponsibility. People who fail to keep their part of an agreement should be made to pay either in reduced compensation or expulsion form work. But it does not appear that anybody failed to cast a vote because of this factor.
Nigerian Law Enforcement Agencies apparently did their job well. There were no ugly or rowdy scenes reported and no political intimidations. All the people who came to vote, had their ID cards, and found their names, voted.
Here are some of the lessons from these preliminary results:
Obi has now beaten Ngige twice in a row without rigging
PDP’s effort to impose a candidate on Anambra people is ill advised.
Anambra is not for sale. Or at least not for sale to Uba.
INEC alone cannot rig elections.
What is next? Democracy imposes responsibilities on all the contestants. Here is what our politicians/contestants should do:
Obi should reach out to all rivals and extend his hand of fellowship and sincerely invite them to help him govern. Governing is a lot harder than winning elections.
Defeated rivals should shake the extended hand and concede defeat in a timely manner and sincerely promise to promote responsible governing of the people.
INEC should go back and review its methodology of registering and publishing the voter register which is the most important tool in its arsenal. While at it training of election officials should be thoroughly revised and importance of being on time re emphasized.
Anambra 2010 election is not yet the nirvana that Nigeria is looking for. But it appears to be an improvement on Ekiti and 2007.
Let us hope that better days are ahead.
Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba
February 7, 2010