• Saturday, April 20, 2024
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Anambra election: People’s lives must be valued above the ballot

APC national convention clashes with INEC’s by-elections in 4 states

As much as we know, in technical terms, Anambra State is not at war, nor is it part of any geographical expression that is at war. But the sound of war drums in the state at the moment is deafening.

This is simply because, in the next couple of days, precisely on Saturday, November 6, 2021, the state and its people would be keeping date with history as they go to the polls to elect a new governor.

Except God who knows the end from the beginning, nobody is sure that the November off-season election will hold for obvious reasons bordering mainly on security concerns arising from federal might versus the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).

Ordinarily, Anambra State is driven by its own current. Election in the state is reputed to be driven by certain forces and a brand of politicking where everybody turns up holding at least 15 court injunctions in his pockets. This is a state where godfather politics has degenerated to its lowest—a point where an individual, a non-state actor, could abduct and try to kill a sitting governor.

Anambra could go that bestial, but the issues of the moment go beyond that. The state has on its palms today a situation where the federal government and IPOB are in war of supremacy to determine who controls the state and its people on the election day.

This is why we urge caution by each camp and, at the same time, warn that no matter the circumstance or level of contestation, the lives of Anambra people should be valued and placed above the ballot and the box. We agree totally with former President Goodluck Jonathan that nobody’s ambition is worth an average Nigerian’s drop of blood.

Read Also: Anambra Election: 7 of 10 unlikely to vote over insecurity – SBM

Anambra election

IPOB has issued a sit-at-home order throughout the entire South East region on the day of election. The order, which has become a weekly ritual in the South East, is always effective. But the federal government has vowed that the election must hold and people must come out to vote.

As a way of reassuring the people of their safety and also sending a warning signal to IPOB, Anambra has literally been militarized. Apart from the military that had since been deployed to the state to check the rising insecurity, the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, has announced the deployment of about thirty four thousand (34,000) personnel.

This is why we urge caution by each camp and, at the same time, warn that no matter the circumstance or level of contestation, the lives of Anambra people should be valued and placed above the ballot and the box.

Over 100 senior police officers of the ranks of deputy inspectors-general (DIGs); assistant inspectors-general (AIGs), commissioners of police (CPs), among others have also been deployed.

We see two negative consequences of this action. The first is voter-apathy that will become worse. Under normal circumstances, Anambra people are not given to coming out to participate in elections. Available record of elections in the state since 2010 suggests that the Saturday election may not be anything to write home about.

According to the record, in 2010, of the 1.84million registered voters, only 302,000 actually voted, meaning that 84 percent of those who registered did not vote. In 2013, 1.77 million registered, but 465,891 voted. That showed 76percent of the registered voters did not vote.

The record was not better in 2017 as the election that returned Governor Willie Obiano recorded only 22 percent voter turnout, representing 447,771million out of the total registered voters of 2.06million. That means 78 percent of those registered did not vote.

This scenario, in our view, is as bad as anything bad could be. We are all the more worried that this time around, it is going to be much worse because of fear on the part of the people coming from the camps of the two contending factions—IPOB and the combined security forces.

We foresee possibility of deeper voter apathy on account of insecurity. If the security agencies are able to repel IPOB forces at the city centres, giving the people the courage to come out to vote, what of those in the hinterland who even constitute the greater bulk of voters?

How many policemen are in the villages to protect the people? The people need to go to the polling booths. If they get there, how many policemen are there to protect them? An average Anambra voter is apprehensive and we see every reason and justification to be so.

It is obvious that people would be afraid to defy the sit-at-home order from IPOB because there is nobody to protect them if they decide to come out. This fear, we believe, is not unfounded, more so, when the state has literally been under siege in the last two months because of rising insecurity.

Killing and kidnapping which remain unexplained and unaddressed have been the order of the day in the state. Many high profile citizens of the state have either been kidnapped or killed by “unknown gunmen.” The kidnapping of Obiora Agbasimalo, the governorship candidate of the Labour Party and the killing of Chike Akunyili, husband of late Dora Akinyili, are two cases in point.

We believe strongly that Anambra people deserve better deal. They deserve peace and security of their lives. For a predominantly commercially minded people, the present situation in the state is not only life-threatening, but also inimical to their business life. Household income is at its lowest now, leaving many home hungry and angry.

We see federal government’s heavy deployment of military and police personnel as an over-kill. That action could be counter-productive in the long run. We therefore advise that government should find a way to manage the situation in Anambra. Beating a war-chest with IPOB may not help the situation.

In the same vein, we advise thought leaders in the South East to rise above personal interest and/or party leanings to save Anambra for the sake of its people whose lives should be of greater interest and concern than the ballot. No Anambra man’s blood should be shed on the altar of election.