By: Tobenna Obiano
In three weeks or thereabouts, if plans moves on as scheduled, Anambrarians would throng out in their numbers to cast their votes. Ndi-Anambra would stand to choose who becomes their Governor for another four years.
This year’s election brings to mind – a subtle reminder to the choices set before ndi-Anambra. It brings to bear – the challenges facing Anambra. It does indeed offer Anambrarians a blank cheque, in choosing who heads the helm of affairs in the state.
Election season is here again. Decisions are integral at this time. People would’ve the choice to choose between merely N2000 stipend with an Abada fabric tailoring design and mortgage their future, or reject the devil, its gifts in all forms and rights. At this time, there’s no joker to throw up. This is a very serious business, and must be taken as such.
Anambrarians remarkably are industrious people. Ndi-Anambra are vastly known with their rich entrepreneurial spirit. For every onye Anambra, even where there seems to be no light, he pushes limitlessly with this burning zeal and undying hope until something worthwhile comes out of it. Be it at home, or abroad for the diasporans.
Unfortunately, yet quite frankly, the outcome of elections in most cases aren’t solely dependent on turnout of the electorates. However, just like examination many may argue isn’t solely the truest test of knowledge; so also, elections and voting with ballot papers may not always bring lasting solutions to problems facing the people.
The goodnews is – even where in some quarters, where examinations aren’t taken as the truest test of knowledge; to this day, that’s all we have got. We must therefore continue to use it. So also, all we have for now is elections, and voting in same. It stands Supreme as a constitutional right, and where it passes well, one must’ve contributed immensely to an outcome in the election.
At this instance, there’re a few bottlenecks, which for a fact can’t be dismissed like nothingness in this election. There’re obvious worries which ought to bring troubling concerns. There’re plausible hitches lined up, either for, or against the forthcoming elections. We can’t dismiss, wish away, wave off or totally ignore those. We must face facts as they are!
In Igboland today, there’s trouble in the land. In Anambra State in particular, the wild wind of insecurity is continually blowing through and one is left in the middle of a crossroad. The members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB were formerly at the forefront of “No Elections” in Igboland. Lately however, they seem to have soft-peddled.
Somehow, Anambra is at the epicenter of it all. Anambra has become the theatre of various criminal activities, violence and even more of such negativities. Anambrarians no more sleep with their two eyes closed. There is fear in the land. The people are worried; and it seems so, that those even in Government and their foot-soldiers are tired as well. Sadly, there seems to be no ending in sight.
There’s a faceless terror group, alleged to have infiltrated Anambra from neighboring states. It’s possible that masterminds are from outside Anambra, but we must’ve in mind that it’s only the home-grown rat that invites the wild rat in the bush to come-in, that the house is plentiful. There’s no such thing like external actors, without their internal frontiers or foot-soldiers. Therefore, amongst such criminal elements are Anambrarians too and those resident therein.
In virtually all the five Eastern states of Igboland, no market, offices or public institutions opens for business on Mondays. It began like a joke, then took various turns and now has become more like a ritual. Infact, even when the South Eastern Governors had strived to convince the people of their safety, the “Ghost Town” of IPOBians remained more like a law. People are afraid to dare come out.
There’re genuine concerns about the Ghost Town Monday rituals. It was alleged that Igbo sons and daughters were forced to miss annual international examinations like the West African Examination Council, WAEC and some papers of National Examination Council, NECO. Sadly, many missed the compulsory subjects of Mathematics and English.
The sad tale was that the faceless armed men who stormed various study / examination centers and strived to impose the No Examinations thing for the Ghost Town Monday didn’t actually understand clearly what the examination or its board stood for. These examinations aren’t ones to be conducted at intervals or can be shifted at will.
What does the above imply? It meant therefore, for any Igbo son or daughter that missed any of those compulsory subjects, would definitely have to sweat it out for another academic session – a whole academic calendar year. Many Igbo sons and daughters are already in this!
It’s not only that the Ghost Town for Mondays was began. What caused uproar, frustration and anger was that it was even forced to happen on certain Fridays too. In fact, we are learning that they’ve plans of extending it to a whole week and maybe even an entire month; according to them, if Federal Government fails or refuses to produce Nnamdi Kanu. This is no jokes.
Aside the academic loss; has anyone wondered the economic toll the seat-at-home is costing Ndi-Igbo. For a region that survives majorly by trading and entertainments; all markets, shops, bars and events are placed on hold. Does it now mean that before one plans to host an event, you consult with them to verify when and how they plan their sit-at-home? Ridiculous!
The Monday sit-at-home has become a terrific one. Even tuesdays, at Onitsha, the ever busy industrial hub of Igboland is majorly deserted too. Young men can be seen playing football games on a trunk-A six lane expressway comfortably. The towns of Nnewi, Ihiala, Okija, Ozubulu, Amichi, Ukpor, Osumoghu, Azia and Lilu et al becomes totally dead. Infact, Ihiala Local Government in particular has become typically the theatre of it all.
It was around Nkpor / Ogidi that the widower of the Nigerian Amazon, late Prof. Dora Akunyili who served as Director General of NAFDAC and former Nigeria’s Infomation Minister, Dr. Chike Akunyili was gruesomely murdered by those arsonists.
What’s Dr. Chike Akunyili’s crime? That he was coming from Onitsha where he had gone and received a posthumous award on behalf of his wife, then returning back from there, he ran into this daredevil criminals and they killed him in the most dehumanizing form. He strived to survive, but passers/by were more concerned with making video recordings.
Dr. Akunyili deserved better. He shouldn’t have been ended in such a brutal way. He gave up his one and all for the well-being and good of Ndi-Igbo in particular, and Nigeria in general. His wife served at the highest ranks and files, teaching and mentoring millions, risking it all and saving lives – all for the love of Nigeria.
The late Prof. Dora Nkem Akunyili was a model to Nigerian nay African girl-child movement. She was an inspiration to many young girls both in Nigeria and outside the Nigerian shores.
Dr. Chike wasn’t a nobody. Ha has a big name. He was a healer, a Doctor who even gave services with less or no pay. It was a sad tale to even remember that he was gruesomely murdered by this faceless killer squad. The Akunyili(s) would no doubt find it extremely difficult to forgive Nigeria. They deserved better. If the target were to be politicians, Chike wasn’t one and hasn’t publicly shown any interest in politics.
For a fact, Chike Akunyili is only one of the many who have lost their lives in this craze-like killings. There has been series of kidnaps, even those of high profile individuals. Vehicles with political party designs and insignias had been vandalized and burnt. Violence has overtaken the streets, where these criminals shoot sporadically into the air.
The Anambra Gubernatorial election therefore is a test ground. It’s like a litmus paper-like sort of test, to see the porosity of the Igbo nation, to understudy the future of elections in Igboland and what may become of the future.
More often than not, an intimidating population of young Igbo men and women throng the streets and cause blockades on major roads asking for the Biafran nation; they’re been ignored until now. What is playing out now in Igboland is a fallout of an age-long choice of Igbo elites and political leaders to ignore an avoidable present. Shame!
The uncommon reality is that nothing would stop Anambrarians from going to the poll. The dates might change for security reasons, but talk about elections holding – it’s a constitutional right that must come to pass.
What we should be angling for about now is pleading that the killer squad stops, and allow that people come out and vote during elections and allow for a peaceful transition. If they refuse, the ruling party may be left without any option but to impose their choice candidate either by hook or crook. If the worst circumstances comes to be, they can even impose a state of emergency; and yes, the world wouldn’t come to an end, if they so choose to do so.
The four frontline contenders, and not listed in any particular order are:
* Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah of YPP
* Valentine Chineto Ozigbo of PDP
* Charles Chukwuma Soludo of APGA
* Andy Emmanuel Uba of APC
There’re the other likes of Godwin Mmaduka of Accord, Ben Etiaba of AA, Obiora Agbasimelo of Labour Party, and Obiora Okonkwo of ZLP. These are giants and forces in their own rights. However, we would focus chiefly on the big four – the giants to beat.
Andy Uba a two term Senator and former Presidential aide has the backing of Abuja power titans. He’s of the ruling APC and lays claim to the blessings of the Presidency and their foot soldiers. He’s said to be the man who used his links and connections in the Presidency to engineer some juicy appointments.
Charles Soludo is a former Governor of Nigeria’s apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria. He’s of the state ruling party, APGA and wholly lays claim to the powers that be in Anambra State, especially that of the incumbent Governor. He breathed fresh air into Nigeria’s banking sector and brought about consolidation and financial security.
Valentine Ozigbo is a celebrated banker and manager. He’s of Nigeria’s major opposition party, the PDP and has the blessing of many from the banking sector, including the immediate past Governor of Anambra State. The glory and attainment of Transcorp cannot be complete without the mention of his name and his managerial roles.
Ifeanyi Ubah is a serving Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He owns chains of businesses and investments within and outside Anambra State. West Africa’s largest tank farm located in Lagos, the Capital Oil & Gas Limited is owned by him. He’s currently singlehandedly building a Catholic Cathedral in his Diocese of Nnewi. Amongst all the other contenders, non other owns as little as half the investments he owns in the state – Ifeanyi Football Club, Ifeanyi Ubah Games Village, the Authority FM and Newspaper et al. He belongs to the streets and is loved by people of all ages and classes. He’s even known as the street General.
In this election, it’s between the individuals, and not the party. The insecurity scare in the land has scored another low, forcing major steak-holders and political parties to move their campaign trains to outside Anambra State. Ifeanyi Ubah was first when his campaign train was seen on the streets of Lagos, Soludo, Ozigbo and Andy Uba later followed.
Ifeanyi Ubah has yet again scored another first – he approached the court, suing that he be granted rights to visit the leader of IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. He has made such attempts in the past, but was resisted, but asked to do so through the courts. He has now approached the court, seeking that as a serving senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he be allowed to visit and see Nnamdi Kanu at the DSS custody.
Why does Ifeanyi Ubah want to see Mr. Kanu?
Oh well, his response is superlative. The Igboland hasn’t been at peace since his eventual arrest in Kenya and return to Nigeria by the DSS. There’s trouble in Igboland in protest against his detention. Ubah wants to reach out to him, see him, find out about his health, the realities on ground and seek for peaceful resolution of the problems keeping him there.
If the faceless Unknown Gunmen permit, this election should bring a great ending; but until then, we are at their mercy.
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