Anambra guber: Ihiala LGA’s rescheduled election dangerous to democracy

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) owes explanations to the public for failure to send or assign officials to conduct a scheduled poll at Ihiala Local Government Area (LGA) on 6th November which deprived the indigenes and residents’ rights of exercising their civic responsibility like other LGAs. The alleged security threats given as reason are weak and absurd. The exclusion saga is similar to the plot against Anambra International Cargo Airport which was slated for inauguration a week preceding the election but frustrated with flimsy excuses using a designated federal agency. President MuhammaduBuhari must ensure that his appointees live up to expectations particularly on election matters which is essential in any democracy.

If INEC could fail to assign officials to a whole LGA for a poll scheduled for one state, it suggests that the umpire under the present management cannot be trusted for a general election in 2023. Believably, the schemers had plotted to use Ihiala LGA as a ground for evil plots against the sacred wishes of the Anambra people. Had it been the machines malfunctioned, it would be a genuine reason for not conducting the election in some polling units, but not for a whole LGA. The alleged ‘security threat’ is baseless, unfounded and incredible.

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For INEC to deliberately fail to assign electoral officials and materials throughout the scheduled day of the poll to a whole local government area suggests that there was a conspiracy between the umpire and some politicians to use the LGA for a sinister motive. It is indeed sad and unbelievable that such a thing could happen in this present time when everyone had looked up to INEC for a credible, free and fair election, However, it must be noted that Anambra people will resist any attempt by any persons to impose or frustrate their legitimate mandate as their next governor. The ‘magic’ that transpired in Imo state in 2020 which ended up having a fourth position sworn in as governor cannot survive in Anambra state. This must be noted.

INEC Collation officer for Ihiala LGA had on Sunday announced that no election was held across all the wards in the LGA on account of no availability of electoral officers and materials to the area, and at the end, the Commission claimed it was as a result of ‘security threats’ and rescheduled the poll thereby making an election that would have produced a winner instantly inconclusive. Even, by the failure to conduct the election on the same day as scheduled, the credibility of the election will be affected as people already know the outcome, and most likely, many may not even bother to go to vote on the rescheduled date which could affect the true bidding of the people.

As a result, there must be explanations on why and how a LGA that is not even within an island but across a federal highway and adjacent to Ozubulu, Nnewi where elections held freely could be excluded with the claim of security threat, sadly in an election that only held in one state out of the thirty-six states of the federation with over 40,000 security personnel on the ground deployed from all security agencies. INEC should not stop at the ‘makeup’ allegation of ‘security threat’ but from where to warrant suspension of a whole LGA on the scheduled date? The Commission must explain the nature of the threats and the towns in the LGA. Otherwise, it clearly shows it was a premeditated action to manoeuvre the outcome of the poll. So, INEC owes explanations and apologies to the people of Ihiala LGA for bringing Ihiala to the mud for mere political conspiracy. One, therefore, wonders how the umpire could conduct a general election across the country at the same time.

Indeed, INEC’s failure to conduct an election at Ihiala LGA on the original date is suspicious and clearly appears to be a deliberate act to manoeuvre the outcome of the poll in favour of a paymaster and politician. By this plot, INEC has compromised in the Anambra election and must be made to explain their actions and identify fellow conspirators. The failure to assign electoral officials and materials to the areas is an indictment to the umpire that it is not neutral and competent but vulnerable to playing scripts of some corrupt politicians. No one needs to be told that many Anambra people that possibly returned from their place of residence outside the state to exercise their franchise may no longer be available for the rescheduled poll. Thus, INEC scores a mere pass mark in the Anambra governorship poll.

Instructively, an election can only be rescheduled with a credible reason, and not rescheduling part of a poll that was meant to take place concurrently to a later date using the Commission’s veto power without any just cause after announcing results. Thus, the umpire must ensure that the choice of the Anambra people is in no way thwarted or manoeuvred by any means to avoid heightening the tension already ravaging the state over perceived intimidations from the centre.

Umegboro, a public affairs analyst, writes from Ihiala in Anambra State.

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