Jigawa Jigsaw And INEC’s Abracadabra In Anambra

Casmir Igbokwe

Nigeria has become a nation of one week, multiple troubles. I had suspected that something sinister was in the offing when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) spoke from two sides of the mouth concerning the recent primary election of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Anambra State.

INEC came to observe the primary election of the Victor Oye-led APGA on June 23 this year. Shortly after, INEC’s national commissioner in charge of publicity and voter education, Mr. Festus Okoye, reportedly said APGA had been barred from the poll for not complying with Section 85 of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended. According to him, the party did not notify the electoral umpire when it held its ad hoc congress to elect ward delegates for the party’s governorship primary.

The chief press secretary to the INEC chairman, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, countered Okoye. According to him, there was no faction in APGA. “The officers of APGA are on our website. Their names have not been changed. The chairman came to our stakeholders’ meeting and he was welcomed.”

He added that there was no time that INEC said that APGA would not be on the ballot.   

Last Friday, the electoral umpire listed the governorship and deputy governorship candidates of 17 political parties for the November 6 governorship election in Anambra State. Conspicuously missing from this list are the two frontline candidates, Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo of APGA and Mr. Valentine Chineto Ozigbo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). INEC said it removed Ozigbo’s name due to the subsisting court order on the primary that produced him.

It replaced Soludo’s name with Hon. Chukwuma Umeoji, who was screened out of the APGA primary election. Immediately Umeoji lost out in his party’s power game, he joined the faction of a certain Jude Okeke and emerged the governorship candidate.

The questions are: is the faction that presented Umeoji authentic?  Is Jude Okeke the man INEC recognized on its website as the national chairman of APGA? The answer is in the negative.

Okoye said the decision of INEC was based on court orders. For APGA, the court order in question was procured from Jigawa State. Again, the question is, why Jigawa? Is there no high court in Awka where the election took place? Does the Jigawa Court have jurisdiction to handle this matter? There is something fishy about this whole thing. I hope there are no plots to surreptitiously impose an unpopular candidate or his party in Anambra State as has been done elsewhere.

According to the Electoral Act, the commission is required to publish the particulars of candidates no later than seven days from date of receipt of the nomination. APGA chairman, Victor Ike Oye, said his party uploaded Soludo’s nomination and received stamped copy July 2, 2021.

In an open letter to INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, Oye said, “INEC ought to have published it not later than 9th of July. As at 15th July, it didn’t.  A federal high court at Awka had directed INEC to maintain status quo by publishing Soludo’s name. But INEC seems also intent on disobeying the order for reasons known to it.

“The information available to us is that INEC wants to receive another nomination/submission of particulars for APGA (from persons totally alien to APGA) on 16th July, 2021, and publish same immediately, based on a bizarre court judgment in Jigawa.”

Oye said Jude Okeke had never been their member and he had never met him. He urged Yakubu to stand firm and resist any pressure not to do what is right about who is the APGA candidate in the upcoming election.

Also, the Soludo Campaign Organisation has dismissed the INEC announcement and said the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria would contest the election. Spokesman of the group, Joe Anatune, was unequivocal when he said they would challenge the Jigawa jigsaw judgement and were confident of victory.

It is imperative to note that party decisions are binding on members. Those who are aggrieved either go to court or join another party. That was what a former governorship aspirant of APGA, Nze Akachukwu Nwankpo, did. He was disqualified like Umeoji. But rather than go to Taraba or Kebbi to tell the court to declare him APGA candidate, he joined another party, African Democratic Congress (ADC), and is now its governorship candidate. He will test his popularity with other candidates on Election Day.

Similarly, Senator Ifeanyi Ubah felt shortchanged in APGA a few years ago. He joined the Young Progressives Party (YPP) and contested the senatorial position of the party in the last general election. Surprisingly, Ubah defeated candidates of the more popular and established parties. That was what I expected Umeoji to do, rather than what he is doing now.

That was also what I expected the aggrieved members of the PDP to do as well. The hierarchy of the party has presented Ozigbo as its candidate. Another faction, led by Chris Uba, presented Ugochukwu Uba as its candidate. Ugochukwu is the elder brother of Chris. The APC candidate, Andy Uba, is also their brother.

While we watch to see how things pan out in this theatre of the absurd, I wish to advise INEC not to give credence to the recent allegation against it by the Senior Pastor of the House on the Rock Church, Pastor Paul Adefarasin. The pastor was reported last Wednesday to have said that the commission was a fraud. In a sermon he delivered in his church, Adefarasin reportedly said, “Put me in trouble if you like, INEC is a fraud. Numbers in Nigeria as far as census is concerned, as far as election is concerned, are a lie. And if nobody will speak about it, the righteous will speak about it.”

Our democracy is imperiled when the wishes of the people are suppressed for whatever reason. Anambra electorate are fully aware of the credentials of the candidates vying to rule them. They know those who have grassroots support and those who bank on external support to steal the position. But they will not relent in fighting for their right to fair and transparent election in November.     

 

Re: Kanu, Igboho and Umar’s gospel truth

Until the philosophy, which holds one race as the owner of Nigeria’s presidential office and others as mere observers, is “finally and permanently discredited and abandoned,” there will always be agitations and beating of drums of self-determination. Until nepotism is downplayed and the leadership cadre of our security services wears the colour of Nigeria’s diversity as opposed to the perpetually skewed contraption, and until the beneficiaries of the present lopsided arrangement agree to the fact that Nigeria is not working, and that our continuous cohabitation in this union of the horse and its rider is not a must, there will always be strife and calls to opt out of Nigeria. IPOB and others’ mission is occasioned by marginalization. Labelling IPOB a terrorist group by the authorities is a way of calling a dog a bad name in order to hang it. In a marriage in which the wife is always described as bad, wild and whose ‘marriagibility’ is suspect, does it make sense if the complainant husband usually cries aloud and even blocks the estranged wife if and when she seeks a divorce?

The President himself has submitted that Nigeria is lucky to remain ‘united’ despite its challenges: This is an indirect admission that Nigeria is not working. This luck must not be overstretched.

– Edet Essien Esq, Cal. South, 08037952470

Casmir, conscience, it’s said, ‘is an open wound, only truth can heal it’. President Muhammadu Buhari’s government has elevated injustice and the result is what is evident in the country today. The arrest of Kanu or anyone else will never bring peace. Many more Kanus are likely to be born until he does the right thing, allow the rule of law to reign and restructure this country.

– Pharm Okwuchukwu Njike, +234 803 885 4922

Dear Casmir, we sincerely need citizens with national conscience before we can achieve unity. Col. Umar has been a great patriot following after Gani Fawehinmi, who dissipated his sweat and blood to bring Nigeria democracy. A politician or activist should be both Christian and Muslim also both Northerner and Southerner at the same time.

– Cletus Frenchman, Enugu, +2349095385215

Dear Casy, what well-meaning Nigerians yearn for, which the current dispensation, out of willful obstinacy, denies us is the enthronement of: 1. Equity 2. Inclusiveness 3. Fairness 4. Equality 5. Justice 6. True federalism; and dethronement of: 7. Ethnic jingoism 8. Discrimination 9. Inequality 10. Inequity 11. Double standard 12. Playing the ostrich and 13. Marginalisation.

In the scheme of things. Power-wielders’ deliberate sustenance of items 7 to 13 above heightens resentment and revulsion in the polity. Hence, all manner of agitations. Should government wear a human face today and revert to items 1 to 6 above, Nigeria would become an item of envy in the comity of nations. But will those who have, in the course of servicing their stomach infrastructure, imprisoned the country while pretending to love her allow such reversion to take effect? Let’s keep praying!

-Steve Okoye, Awka, 08036630731.    

The government leaves what is bothering Nigerians such as insecurity and hunger to chase the shadow of people agitating for their freedom over maltreatment they are receiving from this government. This government should do the needful in governance to avoid more agitators. Things are not moving as they supposed to be despite the resource at our disposal. Nigerians are suffering in the land of plenty.

– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535       

Dear Casy, the gospel truth from Abubakar Umar was great. Kanu, Igboho and their supporters are not Nigeria’s problems. The late Shagari, Umar and some few Fulanis have shown good leadership in this nation. Miyetti Allah, Gumi, Boko Haram bandits, Fulani herdsmen, APC govt under Buhari’s watch with their officials are Nigeria’s greatest enemies. Let’s remind Buhari that Gowon ended Nigeria after he killed Ironsi, hijacked the govt and destroyed the people’s constitution. On 27th May 1967, Gowon created his empire states and imposed his laws and buried Nigeria. The other generals imposed their laws on the nation. Let’s go back to the roundtable to revive Nigeria. After Kanu and Igboho, there must be agitation; truth is scarce these days.

– Eze Chima C, Lagos, +2347036225495

Sir, my take here is that we southerners are looking foolishly to the northerners. That is why all the mess is going on. Until we put our house in order, this mess will continue.

-Anonymous, +2348055358974         

Sir, I appreciate your effort to inform, to educate, to fight for the weak in spite of consequences. I enjoy your work. The printing of your paper is depreciating in quality.

-Anonymous, +2348036704539

  • Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, July 19, 2021

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