Perhaps Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu (Ikemba Nnewi) did foresee the class act that was the performance of the All Progressives Grand Alliance-led government of His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano, on November 18, 2017, when he stated that “history is nothing more than a movement, a statement, an act by certain individuals who have found the ability to make time stand still; whether they be young or old, they are the bold and the brave.”
And Governor Obiano did make history not just by winning with total votes of 234,071 (55.43 per cent) out of the total 422,314 valid votes cast but he won in all the 21 local government areas. His closest rivals, Mr. Tony Nwoye of the APC and Mr. Oseloka H. Obaze of the PDP, scored 98,752 and 70,293, respectively. Nwoye’s score was 1,052 more than his 2013 score of 97,700 votes when he contested on the PDP platform. Obiano scored 53,893 more votes than he did (180,178) in 2013. Obiano also had more votes than all the other 36 contestants put together. The 2017 election recorded more total votes cast (448,771) than the 425,254 figure of 2013. Also the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) registered 2,064,134 voters for the 2017 governorship election, 294,007 more than the 2013 figure of 1,770,127.
There are other remarkable and unprecedented slants to the win. The election witnessed a record number of 37 contestants; perhaps the first in the country. Apart from the fact that the margin of victory was comparable to no other before it, the spread was never bettered in the histroy of the state. The closest to it (in fact, it does not really qualify to be so addressed) was the 2013 election that brought the same Governor Obiano to office. In that election, he defeated candidates of the same parties though in reverse order. He polled a total of 180,178 votes to beat the candidates of the PDP and APC, who polled 97,700 and 95,963, respectively. The margin of victory in the 2010 election that earned his predecessor in office a re-election was worse. Mr. Peter Obi beat his opponents with 97,843 votes far less than what obtained in 2013 and November 18. In both elections (2010 and 2013) the combined votes (278,021) of the winners were just 43,950 votes higher than Obiano’s winning votes in the last election. This is outside the fact of induced apathy resulting from threat of boycott by members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB). The turnout was doubtless lower (22.2 per cent) than the 28.3 per cent recorded in 2013 but with a more superior mandate than the two previous elections.
So far, the impact of the election has continued to reverberate across the country. Analysts have tried to find possible reasons why APGA’s victory run was unstoppable in all the 21 local government areas of the state, beating its closest rivals and their sponsors. Not one of the godfathers was spared humiliating defeat in their local governments. Some were beaten even in their polling booths, marking a total departure from transactional politics that has been the lot of our democracy. For the first time, the idea of relational politics resonated with the people in their belief that APGA was their own (Nke bu nke anyi). Between campaign and actual voting the governor’s campaign team was able to resurrect the belief in the party as a movement rather than a mere political party. The belief was so strong that reports said that even the elderly were insistent on thumbing their fingers on the Cock, the APGA symbol. The closest to Ndi Anambra’s commitment to the party and its candidate was the relationship between Fidel Castro and his guerilla group, the July 26 Movement in Mexico. The unstinting support given to Castro by the group made it possible for him to overthrow President Fulgenzio Batistuta’s government in what has been known as the Cuban revolution. The sweeping victory is also being viewed as a fitting tribute to Ojukwu’s legacy and stature in Igbo political history. With the rekindled interest in APGA, made possible by the good works of the governor, the possibility of winning the entire South East is high with possible inroads into the other zones of the country. The party has made outstanding impact on governance in the last 13 years. This impact is made evident in the face of the countrywide economic recession that disabled governance in many states. When many of the state governments were finding it difficult to discharge the least function of state, the APGA government led by Chief Willie Obiano was posting impressive performance. It was the reward of the exceptional achievements in office that the governor and his party reaped on November 18. The state has now been hoisted on a pedestal of development, which if sustained in the next four years, will make other states green with envy.
One of the greatest advantages of the victory was that it dealt a devastating blow to politics of godfatherism in the state. It marked a paradigm shift and set a new agenda of reward for hardwork. On the part of the governor, the victory places an enormous burden of reponsibility on his shoulders as he is not only expected to deliver good governance but to also offer political leadership to a people whose politics has since hit the nadir. He is without doubt an embodiment of the collective aspiration of the silent majority who seem lost in the maze of national politics. With what he has achieved in security, agriculture, health, education, infrastructure, human capital development, etc, it is expected that the next four years will witness exponential growth in these sectors and many more legacy initiatives. The time is now to collate all the promises made on campaign stumps and begin to articulate policies around them, particularly when he has only four budget cycles to fulfil those promises. It is hoped that the national economy will improve. That will give him added advantage to prove to Ndi Anambra and indeed Nigerians that his earlier achivements were no fluke.
Perhaps it was on the strength of what he achieved that his government received what may go down in the history of the state as the highest stakeholder endorsements for any government. It was not unexpected when all of them exerted themselves to ensure that he won a landslide victory in all the 21 local government areas of the state. Likened to this was the effort of the Independent National Electoral Commission and that of the security agencies. Both organisations played a vital role in ensuring that the election was free, fair and without intimidation. It was a bold statement on the part of INEC and speaks directly to the fact that the electoral reforms embarked upon by the commission will improve its fortunes greatly. The Anambra election was a great improvement since the Edo and Ondo governorship polls. What that means is that, with continuous improvements, INEC will get it right thus giving hope for a viable democracy in the country. If the Anambra election is anything to go by, the fear that the march to a workable democracy will be halted midway will be totally expunged. To the glory of INEC, none of the contestants has shown disapproval with the conduct of the election. In its exit press statement, the coalition of INEC-accredited observer groups commended Obiano for “standing on the path of peace, mutual understanding among politicians and political beliefs before and during the election even as he was severally and unconstitutionally maltreated to the point of withdrawing his security aides at the peak of the electioneering.” The groups called on INEC and government at all levels to “engage committed civil society groups on an intensive civic voter education, sensitisation and mobilisation ahead of every election.” This will, no doubt, encourage and improve voter participation in future elections.
•Chief Onyima, a former Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism in Anambra State, wrote from Umuoji.