he popular Calypso King "Mighty Sparrow" once wrote this lyric in one of his songs, "Leave Well Enough Alone". This seems to be what the Anambra state electorate appeared to have conveyed in their re-election of Governor Willie Obiano last week, in which they basically urged all Anambra state detractors to "Leave Willie Obiano In Office". Their vote was not only an affirmation of their appreciation of the accomplishments of the APGA Governor but also a confirmation that "Good Governance "Has Its Electoral Rewards". Something the newly converted APC stalwart Orji Uzor Kalu also confirmed in a rare moment of honesty when he attributed Obiano's massive electoral victory to his exceptional performance in office, notably his prompt payment of salaries and his infrastructural development of the state. Most discernible minds will agree with me that the Anambra State elections were not only a rejection of the APC candidate, Mr. Nwoye, the President, his party, his policies, his party's new army of Igbo APC converts and the devaluing of their supposed political influence. No, it did more than that. It re-emphasized the continued reverence of the Anambra people for their son the Late Ikemba Nnewi, Chief Emeka Ojukwu whose name is associated with the APGA party as well as served notice to other South Eastern State Governors that their day of reckoning is close at hand. That their governing impotence, misappropriation of funds, nepotism in appointments, lies, and malfeasance will not be rewarded with their re-elections come 2019.
It will not be a faulty assumption to make if I say, Tony Nwoye's campaign made an egregious error in judgment or worst still committed political malpractice when they invited a seemingly unpopular President to come and campaign for him during which the President evidently by his non mention of the candidates name exposed his prior awareness that the young man was embarking on a losing effort, hence he simply "wished him luck". The President's presence also had an unintended consequence. It simply reminded the Anambra voters of the "Operation Python Dance "military debacle approved by him during which young Igbo youths were killed, brutalized and dehumanized. His presence it could be said, most probably galvanized electoral support for Obiano and opposition to the APC and its candidate. There are some who have attempted to minimize Obiano's victory by calling attention to the many that did not bother to vote by heeding the IPOB call for a boycott of the elections. But here lies the absurdity of that argument. Electoral democracy and practice are hinged on the preponderance of votes. He who gets the highest number of votes in an election is declared the victor irrespective of the number of people who voted. Of course, there is some exceptions, such as the "U.S Electoral College" system in their Presidential elections or the Nigerian variation of a candidate getting two-third votes in a number of states. But then these exceptions did not apply to the Anambra State elections which makes the argument not only redundant but also irresponsible and inexplicable.
Besides the absurdity of the argument is the rationale behind the IPOB call for a boycott of the election. which prompts the question. What useful purpose did it serve? If the purpose and objective of the IPOB were to bring attention to itself as still relevant or to its cause, then the outcome did not serve their purpose hence the election actually took place. This is not to put the IPOB down as I have supported their course even though I detest their tactics as foolhardy. My point is that by calling for a boycott or heeding the call we Igbos continue to devalue our political relevance in the country. We let a few non-sophisticated political actors lead us down the path of political irrelevancy. The same happened during the last census exercise when Massob urged the Igbos to boycott the exercise and consequently when our numbers were reduced relative to our real population strength resulting in less federal allocations, fewer numbers of local Government councils etc, we started complaining of marginalization.
Now to the self -proclaimed new Igbo APC stalwarts, this election exposed their political irrelevancy. It confirmed the open secret that they bring nothing to the APC in terms of Igbo support except for the many whose presences at rallies are bought and paid for. The election exposed people like Arthur Eze, Emeka Ojukwu Jnr, Ken Nnamani and a host of others who lost their wards to APGA candidates as political Lilliputians who have hitherto considered themselves giants. Men who have before now been under the assumption that their ill-acquired wealth and political status had endowed them with some political relevance and following which will ensure electoral support and victory for either themselves or the people they back. With regards to people like Ex- Abia Governor, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu or the soon to be Ex-Imo Statute renowned Governor Rojas Okorocha, what can I say? Their past and present record while in office speaks for themselves. To consider either of these two as men of repute, decency, honesty, virtue, administrative excellence and accomplishments worthy of the biblical leadership skills and followership of Moses are nauseating to the soul. In my humble opinion voting for the APC now and in 2019 with the hope of finding men of virtue is akin to looking for a sterile object in a pile of dung. Hence you cannot find anything devoid of bacteria in a refuse pile.
As I have written in a previous essay, elections are essentially about performance and most times about emotions. Nigerian voters may not be there yet, but surely and gradually they are getting there. The reality is that voters tend to respond and lend their support to candidates they are enthused about or have some degree of emotional attachment to. To that extent, it could be said that the Anambra people by voting the way they did exhibit their emotional attachment not only to Governor Obiano but also to the APGA party which they regarded as their own. They weighed the accomplishments of the Governor, his supposed failures and compared them to those of his counterparts in both Imo, Enugu, Ebonyi and Abia states and came out convinced that no change in the Governor's house was necessary.
It is pertinent to point out that if there is one take away from many others in the just concluded Anambra State elections, it is that it served as a clarion call to the Imo and Abia people in particular that the time has come for a change in their politics and voting choices. That they cannot continue to allow themselves to be abused by self- absorbed, selfish and inconsiderate politicians. That they can't continue to vote for or re-elect the same clueless incompetents and expect any change. Neither can they support a Governor who is now busy flagging off or inspecting construction projects and getting his media sycophants to sing his praises so as to win re-election come 2019. The Obiano's victory also informs us that the PDP is a dying party in the South East, not just because many of its party elite are jumping the PDP sinking ship like rats to the APC but because of the realization that it's Governors with the Abia state Governor as its poster boy of incompetence, arrogance and cluelessness have devalued the party in the eyes of the people. Right at this moment, the PDP in Abia state, in particular, is like a critically ill patient whose pulse needs to be checked every hour to ascertain if it is still alive. Regarding the APC, with its fake promises and new protestations of love for the Igbo people, the Anambra state voters saw it for what it is by sending the message that they will not be cheap dates to be enticed with a new 2nd Niger Bridge 10 Billion Naira contract or promises of Federal appointments. Very soon the party will be showcasing its new members and probably Governorship candidate in Abia state. As impressive as their paid crowd might turn out to be, the party remains a leopard that cannot change its spots in the eyes of the Abia people, try as it may.
In conclusion, I want to use this opportunity to congratulate Willie Obiano for his victory at the polls hence his re-election is a manifestation that good job performance has its electoral rewards. However, let me venture to offer these few unsolicited advice. I urge him to make sure that he carries the Anambra people with him in every decision or action he takes, by asking himself, in what way does it improve the lives and well- being of his citizens. Ensure that equity and justice stay on a balanced scale without a finger tilting it on either side, hence it is the foundational principle on which democracy is anchored. Be fair to everyone and every community, irrespective of their political affiliation or lack of support for him. Be mindful that elections do not create democracies but rather create majorities and that strong democracies are created by the protection of minorities through safeguards that protects them from the tyranny of the majority. That he continues to fulfill the biblical mandate or mantra that a "laborer is entitled to his wages" by promptly paying the emoluments of his civil servants and pensioners. With his past experience in the banking sector, that he continues to be a prudent manager of his state's finances with the goal of keeping his state not only out of debt or less debt but to also leave his future successor with a solid financial foundation to build on when his new 4 year term ends. If he does all these and more I believe posterity will remember him as not only a transformational leader but one of the bright spots of an emergent Igbo political leadership class.
Nnanna Ijomah is a New York City-based Political Science lecturer and a former Special/Personal Assistant to the late Ikemba Nnewi, Chief Emeka Ojukwu.