BusinessDay

Why Soludo won the Anambra governorship election – Ubani

Monday Ubani is the former chairman of the Ikeja Branch of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and the current chairman NBA-SPIDEL. In this interview with Iniobong Iwok, he says that the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) should cancel the Monday sit-at-home order for the sake of developing the South-East zone, he also speaks on the recently concluded Anambra governorship election, among other issues. Excerpts:

What would you say about the harmonisation of the Electoral Act by the two chambers of the National Assembly?

I was thinking they have done that, I believe that they have agreed that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would be the one to decide the process and not another body. Wherever there is no network, they would use manual. The original version from the Senate was that whenever or wherever it is practicable and there is network, they would use electronic transmission or else they use manual. Going forth and backwards and creating unnecessary confusion is not right. The point is that whenever it is available use electronic transmission or not use manual. What they re saying that we have only 40% network coverage is a lie, we have exceeded that, we have about 80 or 90% coverage. So, the network providers are trying to improve on feasibility and availability all over the country. They are making all efforts, so it is a governance issue. My take is that wherever it is practicable, whatever they are harmonising, where it is practicable use e-transmission, where it is not possible then use manual. That solves the problem, we don’t need to speak too much grammar on this issue.

The Anambra Election has come and gone, how do you see the whole process, especially when IPOB initially threatened to order a one-week sit-at-home?

I think that the issue of allowing wisdom to prevail on the part of IPOB is commendable. They allowed wisdom to prevail by cancelling the sit-at-home order they initially gave. Also, the fact that the government ensured that they had enough security people on ground, which gave the people the confidence to come out, believing that they would be protected and would not be harmed is also commendable. You can see that not many people actually went out and those who went out were not molested, they went about casting their votes in a peaceful atmosphere and they were able to reach a conclusion with a result that APGA candidate won the election.

It is clearly a reflection of the wish of the majority of the people of Anambra State. You can see it from what you have on the social media with the reaction of the people that the best thing to have happened to Anambra is choosing Professor Chukwuma Soludo or the candidate of the PDP in the election, Valentine Ozigbo. These are issues of getting the best hands, choosing the best 11 and getting the choice of the people. You cannot see any reaction against him, whoever is going to court to challenge the mandate of the people would not be able to change the prayer of the people of Anambra with Soludo.

It’s been the prayers of even the people, who are not from Anambra that Soludo should emerge the winner of the election. That is the kind of thing we should be canvassing all over the country both at the states and even at the federal level that the best hand should take over the leadership of the nation to take us to the Promised Land. We have so much resources such that if we have the kind of leadership that can manage them we would not be where we are today. But we have had inept leadership, very incompetent leadership, most of them not good for governance, but we threw them into governance and they came up to mess up the entire system. This is clearly a verdict that sits comfortably with majority of Nigerians who are not even from Anambra and I can tell you that majority of Anambrans were the ones that made this choice of Soludo.

There were issues of vote-buying in the Anambra election and people are wondering that when are we going to get to a level, where this would not happen again and people would make their choice easily?

We will get to that level when we change some things in our political system. Why people offer money to voters is because of what is available to public office holders, when they get to offices. If you watch electoral processes in a developed economy, you won’t see policemen or army officers on the roads on election days. People even go to work and their offices they come out to carry out their civic responsibilities in the nearest polling booths. But here, you restrict movement; you put army and police officers as well as some other security agencies on the road because of one particular civic responsibility.

This is because the politicians have unhindered access to the treasury and just for one day of being a Governor you can make as much as N1Billion. As long as they have unhindered access to the treasury they would do all sorts of things to get into power. They want to buy votes because they would recover whatever they spent on one day. So, the moment we reduce the issue of perks of office and limit access to treasury, you will see that only genuine people would emerge. They would not show desperation, they don’t need to give you money because you know their antecedents and what they are going there to do. They would not give you kobo because they are not going there to steal money.

We need to really change the political culture that allows public office holders unhindered access to the treasury. The moment we close that gap nobody will spend such money for election because if you do that you will lose and people would collect your money and they would not vote for you. Even in Anambra we gathered that some people collected money from some candidates and voted for the candidates of their choice.

They felt that it was a windfall and that it was their money that they have taken and that it was their way of getting their own shares. I also saw a viral video, where some women were rejecting money offered by some parties despite their level of poverty. They were saying that they didn’t want their money and their political parties. We will get to that level when we give the necessary advocacy and sensitisation to people. We may get to a level where those who offer money would be disgraced and they would just spend money and they will lose.

Read also: Andy Uba, APC candidate, rejects Anambra governorship election result

It is either people would start rejecting such money or they would collect the money and the candidates would still lose. This is what we will get with some of the reforms in our electoral process, especially when it becomes e-transmission of election results and e-voting. By the time we graduate into the level of using technology, we may get to the level of reducing human interference in our electoral processes and fairness of the process.

As long as the process is fair, where the emergence of people into place offices will be by the will of the people, it might be difficult for anybody to waste his money to buy people’s votes and we may begin to probably say we have gotten to Eldorado. But the system is still dicey to say that we are going to eliminate it. So much is available to our public office holders and we have not been able to develop institutions that monitor this unhindered access. They go in there and do everything humanly possible to get there and get as much as they want.

Soludo is going there as a technocrat and do you think the people of Anambra actually voted for him or they voted for APGA?

APGA was a factor and his personality was a factor, it’s a combination of the two factors. If APGA had fielded someone, who had no pedigree, it would have been something else. APGA always put up people with pedigree, remember former governor Peter Obi, he is an economist and a banker, same goes for Govenor Willie Obiano, who was a banker too. If they had produced someone with no pedigree he wouldn’t have done what Soludo did. His background and political party resonated. It’s a combination of the two.

What are your expectations from Soludo?

He needs to get down to business because to whom much is given much is expected. The majority of people even outside Anambra wanted Soludo to win because they wanted to see what these technocrats can do differently in terms of giving people good governance.

As a technocrat, he must learn the art of politics because if you are a technocrat and you don’t know a little bit of politics, he might run into problems just like former governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State. He was a technocrat, but he was not a politician and it cost him a lot. You have to balance it, former governor Babatunde Raji Fashola also of Lagos State is a technocrat and politician.

So, when the godfathers wanted to deny him a second term the people on ground said no and that if they deny him the party would lose the election. I will advise him to balance both, let him not be snobbish or arrogant, he should listen to the people. He should play a little bit of politics, but he must be firm to achieve his ambition for the people. Let politics not derail him and being a technocrat too should not cost him politically. He needs both and he should do it effectively to succeed. If he does the technical aspect and fails to do politics it would cost him.

It cost Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State after he finished his first term then and he wanted a second tenure. It is both that can get him and help him to get second tenure. He should combine the issue of competence and play politics. There are people who work for him, he shouldn’t neglect them and bring people from abroad to work for him.

What is your message to IPOB as it relates to weekly sit-at-home order and what are the lessons from the Anambra election?

For the IPOB, they should know that they are destroying the economy of the eastern region and a lot of people are leaving the place for another region. This is not good enough for us as a region, they should review the sit-at-home order on Mondays they could do that when the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu is being taken to the court. It happens that even on Tuesdays people don’t want to come out and you are creating fear in the minds of the people and no investor would want to come to such a place. They have to review the sit-at-home order and allow the region to grow seamlessly without any fear.

On the election, the INEC needs to buckle up, there were some irregularities on their part on logistics. They are still battling with that. I was thinking that by now they would have overcome some of the areas where people had complaints. Even for the one they did on Tuesday, as at 12 noon there were no INEC officers in some of the polling units. Their system failed in many places on the first day, though it was not like that on Tuesday. If they have this kind of issues, when the election was for just one state, what of the general elections that would involve the 30 states of the federation at a time. INEC still has issues and their competence is still doubtful. They always falter, when they are needed most.

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