If anyone is in doubt of the outcome of the November 6 Anambra State gubernatorial election, the certification of Professor Chukwuma Charles Soludo by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the winner of the election on 12th November 2021, has put to rest any qualm. The INEC National Commissioner Supervising Anambra, Mr Festus Okoye, did not mince words while handing Soludo/APGA party the Certificate of Return.
It is not by mistake that the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) won other parties landslide. Many factors contributed to the observable success.
According to basklifenews, the period and timing of the formation of the APGA party was an evident factor. Before the 2003 Anambra State gubernatorial election, the PDP government led by Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju, “was allegedly trammelled by corruption, insecurity/extrajudicial killing by Bakassi Boys, unpaid salaries, the dilapidation of infrastructures, political rivalries with his sponsors/godfathers, to mention but a few. His government was a nightmare to the civil servants and a failure to Anambrarians. It was indeed a period of a political quagmire, retrogression, and backwardness in Anambra State. People began to wonder how an Associate Professor/barrister who “obtained a BA in political science, and a doctorate in government” would be so incompetent in political management and administration. Rather than escaping from the web of godfatherism, he allowed himself to be caged and marooned.” Indeed, it was a period of dark democracy – a period when democracy was an orphan. Hence, “in the midst Mbadinujuism which shattered the people’s social contract in 2002, Chief Chekwas Okorie, a canny political opportunist, with like minds, founded All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and became the National Chairman. He smartly lured to the party Chief Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, who popularized the APGA party in Southeastern Nigeria. To so many Anambrarians yawning for political redemption, the introduction of the APGA party, which engendered Igbo thought and idea was seen as a timely intervention.”
The selection of Mr Peter Obi from Agulu town as the APGA gubernatorial candidate of Anambra State was a striking political calculation and dribble that cemented the foundation of the APGA party. Mr Peter Obi was a coolheaded, unassuming, and thrifty personality. His political mantra was intoxicating and appealing. His campaign bills had thought-provoking and stunning questions: “Are we cursed or are we the cause?” Poco a poco, his promising and remarkable messages dripped into the consciousness of those that were craving for the messianic intervention.
When Peter Obi won the election, he took Anambra State governance to the highest apogee. Education was improved, infrastructures upgraded and millions of dollars were saved for the state. His harmonious relationship with Chief Ojukwu endeared him to his people, which galvanised Anambra State into a true light of the Nation.
Governor Peter Obi’s choice of Chief Willie Obiano rather than Professor Chukwuma Soludo as his successor was a blessing in disguise. By academic standards and international experiences, Professor Soludo was quite taller than Chief Obiano. Simply, Soludo’s aura of intellectualism and innocuous oratorical prowess are radiant and luminous. However, Governor Obi campaigned vigorously for Obiano and Anambrarians believed in him and he won.
After the time Governor Obi left APGA and joined the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the synergy between him and Governor Obiano cracked considerably. Following that, fierce power tussle ensued in the state, and Mr Obi plotted for Chief Oseloka Obaze to replace Governor Obiano. 2017 Anambra State gubernatorial election became an opportunity for the two political gladiators to slog it out. The political atmosphere was disproportionately heated. The overwhelming victory of Governor Obiano in 21 out of the 21 Local Government Areas of the state showed that APGA was formidable and deep-rooted in Anambra State – a party some reluctantly called the Igbo party.
Governor Obiano’s government, to large extent, failed in road construction and infrastructural development. The poor sanitation added to the mountains of refuse or waste disposal were commonly seen in the nooks and crannies of the state. It was pathetic scenes that stirred many Anambrarians to have a rethink on the APGA’s political thought and social contract. Many parties saw the avoidable lapses as a rare opportunity to clinch in depluming the fabric of APGA in the state.
Nonetheless, as the 2021 Anambra State gubernatorial election came closer, Governor Obiano took the bull by the horns and wisely threw his weight in support of Professor Soludo, one of the members of the Economic Advisory Committee of President Buhari’s led government. It was one of the smartest decisions of Governor Obiano. Such commendable choice, added to the Cargo International Airport he did in a record-breaking time changed the graphing of Anambra political equation.
More so, the APGA campaign tours were richer and superb. Seas of humanity, in defiance of the security threats, always thronged the campaign ground with faith – the memorable tours that were widely publicised.
The proactiveness of Governor Willie Obiano when the Attorney General of the Federal, Abubakar Malami SAN threatened that a State of Emergency could be declared in Anambra State if the attacks from the “Unknown gunmen” failed to abate was another factor. Rather than counting on providence, Governor Obiano wisely and quickly met President Buhari who assured him of no plan to declare a State of Emergency. Added to that, the president promised to him a hitch-free election, which Governor Obiano immediately disclosed during a press conference.
Another interesting factor that culminated in the victory of APGA in the Anambra State November 6 election was that an average Anambrarian/Igbo man was independent-minded and individualistic in social philosophy and political thought. It was one of the striking differences between Igbo people and most ethnic groups in Nigeria. In most areas of the centralized regions like Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba and Benin, once their leaders have chosen political routes, their followers would obediently follow them. Nevertheless, in Igbo land, individual opinions were often supreme and hardly to be tilted or swung. It could be for this reason that notwithstanding the large number of APGA and PDP bigwigs that defected to APC party, their followers barely followed them in the defection. Since the formation of a democratic government depended on the party with the largest number of voters, APGA party, according to INEC, easily won the golden crown in 19 out of the 21 Local Government Areas the election was conducted.
If the above were enough, Soludo could not have won. The systematic propagation by the proscribed freedom-fighting non-violent movement called Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) on the alleged plan to Fulanize Igboland by the Buhari-led ruling government struggling with strangulating economy put much fear to the Anambrarians. The truth was that the herders believed to be Fulani and Igbo farmers had clashed incessantly, causing killings, raping, banditry, kidnapping, and destruction of properties. It was an action that left in the trail of most Anambrarians brooding, with the smouldering passion of revenge. In the end, the APC party in Anambra State, which was accused of planning to legalise open grazing if voted into power became the sacrificial lamb.
The alleged militarization and conflict between Governor Hope Uzodimma’s led-APC government in Imo State and the “Unknown gunmen” heightened the fear of the Anambrarians that such could happen in Anambra State if the APC party was voted into power. Coincidentally, Governor Hope Uzodimma was the head of the Andy Uba *’s* Campaign Team set up by the APC party.
Apart from the Christian denominational (especially Catholic versus Anglican) cold war that reared its ugly head during the political campaign in Anambra State, the alleged malicious propaganda against Senator Andy Uba could have appealed to the Anambra voters. The allegation that Senator Uba had questionable school certificates which Professor Soludo amplified during the gubernatorial debate stirred up a hornets’ nest. Although Senator Uba vehemently denied involvement in the alleged selling of Ikenga Hotel and destruction of the Anambra State government properties during the tenure of Governor Chris Ngige, the allegations became a runny sore which the propagandists allegedly refused to heal.
Finally, Professor Soludo’s style of the campaign was second to none. Unlike most of his opponents, he went about with his voluminous manifesto, preaching effortlessly, touchingly and convincingly the contents. His charisma was charming and fertile. His ability to recall and repeat the promises he made to the people earlier during the Local Government tours presented him as a sincere man with a compassionate ambience who truly desired to take his people to the Promised Land.
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