From Romanus Ugwu, in Awka
The Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Rev Bishop Matthew Kukah, has challenged the people of Anambra State to take their destinies into their hands in making this weekend’s governorship election free, fair and credible poll.
Bishop Kukah, the Convener, National Peace Committee, spoke on the sideline at the stakeholders meeting in Awka on Wednesday, emphasizing that the people of Anambra are homogeneous culturally and religious to allow the election to divide them.
“Anambra has no reason being divided. They are culturally homogeneous, predominantly or significantly Christians to the point of 80, 90 per cent. The issue of what God are to Anambra they ought to know better.
“I am impressed with the coming of INEC Chairman, who is taking all the troubles with all the difficulties to be physically here just to encourage the people of Anambra.
“This country is ours to fix and I think Anambra has the mandate to do so. As I said earlier, the people contesting for Anambra governorship election are literally qualified to be contesting for the Presidency of Nigeria.
“The elections are here and if you decide that you don’t want to vote, you have voted, if you decide that you are not going to vote, it will not stop the process, it will only mean that the candidate that you did not want may probably be the one to win the election and you have to live with the consequences.
“Our lives is in the hands of God and I don’t think any citizen of Nigeria should be afraid of death that they are afraid to live up to their political responsibility.
“Otherwise, what will I be doing here coming all the way from Sokoto and there is no chances that I am going to live in Anambra even though I have many friends in the state. However, I come all the way from Sokoto, the other extreme end of the country as an act of solidarity because there is nothing that rest of us can offer than that.
“We are here to hold their hands, encourage them that it is quite conceivable that we will have free, fair and credible election in Anambra everything else notwithstanding,” he said.
Making more appeals, Bishop Kukah noted: “More importantly, I have to emphasise that the name of those contesting election one of who will be governor in Anambra will not be Tunde, Abubakar, Toby but the son of the soil. So, whatever reservations anybody may have, they must understand that it is a family affair.
“Nobody is imposing anybody on them because we are not in military. The people are choosing among themselves,” he appealed.
Also speaking on the sidelines, representative of Civil Society Group, Ezenwa Nwagwu, described the security presence in the state ahead of the election as overkill.
Reacting to the anxiety over apathy and security for the election, he said: “When we talk about Anambra, we should not be taking about voter apathy because you need to do a historical review into the voting character and complexion of Anambra State.
“It has notorious for low turnout ordinarily. No governor of this state has been elected with 500,000 votes. Even the outgoing one was elected with less than 200,000 votes.
“As for the security presence, adequate deployment is sociological. 34,000 policemen and other security agencies can be said to be said to be over kill, but it can be likened to hunger, which can inspire or embolden or weaken you.
“But I think that it is better to be on the side of caution because if they under deploy, it will still be the same us that will complain of the authorities not providing adequate security.
“No matter the volume of security deployed, if the people did not protect themselves, we are just wasting our time. Election on Saturday is not going to take place along the road but in the villages and streets. No outsider can invade the polling units.
“The people of Anambra must be determined to hold the election on Saturday but not the amount of millions of security deployment can make the difference. “Anambra people must not protect their votes but must ensure that they elect the right person to run the affairs for the next four years to give the the dividend of democracy,” he appealed.