By Prince Tony Nwacukwu
It is that time of the year again: the time when sore losers rake up mud to tarnish the process they could not corrupt. Following the governorship primary conducted in Anambra State on Saturday, June 26, the Ogun State governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, having discharged the responsibilities thrust upon his shoulders by the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) faithfully, creditably and to roaring applause, made the following declaration at the Golden Tulip Hotel, Agulu Lake, on Sunday morning: “I wish to use this opportunity to thank all the aspirants that participated in this election. Like I said yesterday, our lot in Anambra State has been significantly enhanced.
The collective hard work of the aspirants mobilized members of the party, enhanced our image, and improved the lot of the party, obviously. It has increased the chances our party to win the governorship election in Anambra State in November 2021. So, one cannot but appreciate everyone who participated in this process.”
Naturally, the good losers, those who knew that the election was not a do-or-die affair and that success might come on another day, took their loss in good faith and congratulated the winner. But the sore losers, stung by their rejection at the polls, immediately summoned hacks and hired writers who abuse the democratic process for a bottle of beer, and started tarnishing everyone associated with the process. And out came “Gov. Abiodun and electoral fraud in Anambra,” an inglorious admixture of libel, innuendoes and outright falsehoods, on the back page of The Sun, on Monday, June 28. After all, if they couldn’t win on the electoral field, at least they could appeal to base emotions and excite ignoramuses through media mudslinging. The results of the election conducted through the open ballot system (Option A4) were as clear as the sun: Candidate Andy Nnamdi Uba defeated 13 other aspirants to emerge the party’s governorship candidate in the next November 6 elections. Uba garnered 230,201 votes, while his closest rival, Johnbosco Onunkwo, polled a total of 28,746 votes. The total vote cast was 348, 490. End of story.
In the acerbic piece under reference, the writer, one Nnamdi Obi who may or may not exist in reality, let alone being “a public affairs analyst” resident in “Onitsha, Anambra State”, sought to dress Governor Abiodun in the robes of a villain, questioning his academic qualifications over which the Supreme Court has long ruled in his favour, and indirectly attacking journalists, security agencies and INEC, all of whom he alleged did not witness the primary. The language of demagoguery easily gave him out: Governor Abiodun, we are told, “presided over the most wicked and callous imposition of a candidate on the party and the good people of Anambra State, thereby railroading Anambra into the Zamfara way.” Apparently, the writer had conducted a survey on “wicked primaries” (that is, primaries which his paymasters, being people of fickle electoral value, did not win) and determined that the June 26 election took the top price.
For good measure, he added that “Governors Buni and Abiodun have successfully cherry-picked Oshiomhole’s draconian-style party primaries to impose their chosen candidate,” that “party delegates were allowed to stay under the sun across the 326 electoral wards with no election materials or election panel officials”, and that Governor Abiodun “was picked to perpetrate a hatchet job.” This is neither the place to make a comprehensive list of his diatribes, nor to examine the logic of his false assumptions based on the fact that “Managing director of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr. George Moghalu, who is the spokesperson for the G-11 aspirants, told a press conference on Saturday in Awka, the Anambra State capital, that no primaries were held.” Yeah, there was no primary because Moghalu said so. Moghalu must be an oracle!
Contrary to Mr. Obi’s blatant falsehood, the Anambra APC governorship primaries were witnessed by the media, the security agencies and INEC. Governor Abiodun organised a stakeholders’ meeting on Friday that went into the wee hours of Saturday. Aspirants were requested to send 30 names each to assist in the conduct of the primaries. This was done to ensure fairness and inclusiveness on the part of the electoralofficers.
Probably, for ulterior motives, only eight aspirants complied.
Voting materials got to in various wards at 2pm while voting followed immediately throughout the Local Government Areas in the State.
Of course, some leaders were advocating for a shift to Tuesday, June 29, so that they could have the opportunity to truncate the process via a court injunction and prevent the party from fielding any candidate at all. The venue was well secured because the environment is volatile. Mr. Obi naturally avoided this point altogether. Before the election, Prince Abiodun, speaking at the Elders and stakeholders’ meeting held at the Hilton and Leisure Hotel, Awka, said: “I want to assure you and pledge to you, on behalf of myself and the entire members of our committee, that I will be fair, just and transparent. And this is the only way that anyone who emerged will know that he or she got a fair chance.” Thus, all the seven primary election committee members attended all meetings, supervised the distribution of voting materials, and endorsed all the documents on the primaries.
To be sure, if 14 people contested an election, only one person could have emerged as the winner. And whereas everyone has an interest, the interest of the party must override such interests. Name calling and character assassination will not put the losers on the ballot box in November. The party has a means of internal democracy, and the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) has already put the APC Primary Election Appeal Committee for the Anambra State Governorship Election in place. The committee members include Governor Inuwa Yahaya (chairman), Sen. Julius Ucha, Hajia Maryam Mamu Salifu, Alhaji Bukar Ali Dalori and Dr. Ijeoma Arodiogbu (Secretary). However, instead of seeking redress through the party structure, the characters behind the diatribe published in The Sun resorted to blackmail. Pray, if they knew that the election was going to be a hatchet job, why didn’t they raise the alarm before now? Why shift the goal post after a goal has been scored?
Regardless of the lies of a mercenary writer chasing shadows, the assignment given to Governor Abiodun to conduct a free and fair primary has been excellently done, a fact attested to by APC leaders in Anambra. They included Ambassador Jerry Ugokwe, Ambassador Elijah Onyeagba, Sen. Margery Okadigbo and Chief John Emeka, among others. Hear Ambassador Ugwoke: “The transparency is exemplary. It is democracy at its best because all eligible party members were given a say in the choice of their governorship candidate in the forthcoming elections.” And Senator Okadigbo: “Yes materials were distributed late and we had a few hitches like transportation, but they were rectified in a manner that left no one willing to vote disenfranchised.” According to Ambassador Elijah Onyeagba, voters conducted themselves with decorum. Another party chieftain, Chief John Emeka, who enjoined party faithful to sheathe their swords, no matter their misgivings, said: “This election has been won and lost and as members of the same APC family, we should embrace dialogue. We can only have one governor at a time and only one standard bearer in every election. We should not end the euphoria of this free and fair contest with litigation.”
The weight of facts, truth, logic and history are on Governor Abiodun’s side in this case and no amount of mudslinging and character assassination can change the narrative. Governor Abiodun took electoral loss in his stride for many years before he eventually became the fifth democratically elected governor of Ogun State. The sore losers of Anambra should shelve their pretence to patriotism, embrace the democratic process, and save themselves from self-invited heart failure.
Nwachkwu contributes this piece from Akwa, Anambra State.