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February 8, 2010

Nigeria: Anambra Elections

Peter Obi Accepts Re-Election
Mr. Josiah Uwazuronye, the INEC’s Anambra Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), late Sunday announced that incumbent Governor Peter Obi the winner of the state gubernatorial election held on Saturday. In his announcement Uwazuronye said: “Peter Obi of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, having satisfied the requirements of the law and scored the highest number of votes, is hereby declared the winner and is returned elected.”
The results showed that the incumbent governor Mr Peter Obi(with 97,843) won by a margin of 37,603 votes over his closest rival Mr Chris Ngige (60,240) and Chukwuma Soludo of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) came in third with 59,365 votes.
The BBC losses it
Various observers, monitors and commentators on the ground reported positive signs and generally give the elections a pass mark. Elections in Nigeria has been violent and flawed recently and it would have been expected for news media to report all the frailties of the logistics and all what not unless there was 0% violence and 100% performance and logistics organization from INEC. The BBC probably pre-empted that and went to press with a very bad and unrealistic story by 10am this morning. This is irresponsible. Although the elections was not completely free of violent acts the INEC must quickly call for the BBC story to be removed as it goes far off field on what actually happened in general term and in nearly all the polling areas. Even independent monitors, for the first time in a long time, actually gave the results of the elections and their tally of the votes closely approximated the INEC results; showing that INEC was fairly right and the isolated instances of vote manipulation and violence reported did not  significantly affect the results of the elections. This is not to condone the violence no matter how little but BBC was way out. Such reporting is irresponsible and does not in any way encourage INEC workers and security personnel and the people of Anambra state.
The Other Winners
Though many people would count the contestants as losers in this election, I defer. The candidates in this election are not losers especially Professor Soludo. By congratulating the winner and conceding defeat he (Soludo) and Mr Ngige are true fighters and honourable men. This is the first time a contestant in an election in Nigeria would go to press to concede without going to court. The Vice President Mr Jonathan should also be counted here for congratulating the winner and for giving his support to the security agencies to keep order during and after the election. This is true statesmanship. Ndi Anambra are also winners for not letting themselves to be used and for holding on to their votes.
Lessons from the Election
INEC must now build on the gains made here during this election. First the manner of keeping the elections register must be reviewed. Digital/electronic database register is a very good option preferably backed with scanned elections register for cross checking. Voters should be able to vote at any booth and not necessarily at the exact booth they registered. Second, even though the INEC election monitors complained of too much police presence, security must continue to be strict until most of the people give up plans to disrupt elections. Of course that may have affected voter turnout; people may have decided not to take the risk to go and vote but the candidates should have the clout to motivate and bring out their electorate without threats or any other kind of inducements.
Way Forward for Soludo etc
Professor Soludo and Mr Ngige must now devote time to being an official opposition, now more than ever they must continue the debate and continue to argue as gentlemen for the visions which they represented to the public. This is vital to keep the governor on a check and enable true service delivery to the people of the state. And who knows what will happen? Politics is and should always be a battle of ideologies, populist ideals and for who is best suited to deliver the good life to the people or at least who can convince the people that he can. The culture of court elections must stop.
The Police, however, must prosecute all arrests during the election and investigate all offenders whether they acted alone or where induced, hired or recruited by any party to the elections. This is the way to go for future elections. One step at a time and the reform would take shape. Congratulations!
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