By Nwobodo Chidiebere
On November 4, 2017, Enugu people were presented with the opportunity of choosing their local council representatives via a much-publicised local government election. After the poll, the ruling party in the state – the PDP – took other opposition parties to the cleaners by grabbing virtually all the available chairmanship and councillorship positions in the seventeen local government areas of the state. The opposition APC cried blue murder when the results were announced in favour of the party in power in the state.
Among the notable leaders of the APC who rejected the outcome of the election are ex-Governor Sullivan Chime, Director-General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu, and Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyema. Former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, and Jim Nwobodo lost in their wards to the PDP. The argument of the APC was that election did not take place in majority of the council areas and that the announced results were fabricated to suit the whims and caprices of the incumbent party.
The credibility of the election will be a subject of discussion at another time. But, one takeaway in the entire electioneering exercise is the unprecedented grassroots campaign which Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi personally led to the remotest corners of the state.
Ever since I became a student of Enugu politics, I am yet to witness a sitting governor who invested so much time and resources soliciting for people’s votes on behalf of the candidates of his party, irrespective of the fact that he calls the shots at the state’s electoral commission—which happens to be the electoral umpire.
While Gov. Ugwuanyi left his other official engagements to lead his party’s candidates to campaign in all the local government areas, opposition leaders, especially of the APC stock, were busy dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s of the press releases they intended issuing out after the elections. They were not seen on the campaign field, let alone showing signs of a campaign.
One can only possess the moral strength to question the election outcome when he or she must have fulfilled his/her civic obligation of campaigning prior to the actual day of voting which is the hallmark of the whole exercise.
On this understanding alone, the APC Abuja-based politicians lost the morality of the argument on whether the elections were free and fair or not, by not making any attempt to solicit for people’s votes via grassroots campaigns.
They accepted defeat even before the elections. Majority of the opposition candidates were only seen on few posters scattered around the state. They made little or no attempt to woo Enugu people.
The APC candidates, through their actions and inactions, displayed total lack of confidence in the entire local government electoral system by showing apathy towards campaigns.
How did they arrive at the conclusion that the elections were manipulated if they did not participate in the entire process? I am not implying that the elections were perfect. How many well-attended rallies were held by the APC as regards local government elections in the state prior to the election? How many local government councils outside Udi LGA did Osita Okechukwu and Sullivan Chime lead other APC candidates to, to canvass for votes?
The so-called APC leaders in Enugu were nowhere to be found during the entire campaign period. Most of the opposition candidates bought forms, got their party nominations and went to bed, only to wake up on the evening of 4th November to scream on top of their voices that there was no election in Enugu State. Haba! That amounts to insufferable hypocrisy and a botched attempt to reap where one did not sow.
The media statements credited to some APC chietains in the state rejecting the outcome of the election was done to impress Abuja that they have presence in the state and curry sympathy as we progress towards the 2019 elections. The fact remains that Enugu APC exists only on the pages of newspapers.
It has served as a platform used by some politicians to collect money from the national leadership of the party anytime election is around the corner and also as a proverbial city of refuge against EFCC’s arrest for those who are afraid of their shadows and misdeeds while in power. Most of these politicians are still PDP when it comes to getting unmerited favours from the state government, but APC when peddling influence in Abuja.
Chidiebere writes via [email protected]