By Ejike Anyaduba
Dear Professor Mahmood Yakubu,
I admit of no better time than now to write you this letter. With the November 18 governorship election in Anambra State within days of taking place, it behoves us in the state to ask a few questions. I assume – even without being admitted in knowledge – that you have taken effective care to ensure that Anambra State witnesses a free and fair election. Nothing will be more gratifying than this realization. It is my hope that your coming to the state as an unbiased umpire is to change the perception that election results do not always reflect the wishes of the electorate. I pray the Anambra election will not be a confirmation of this perception. This is because you and I know how diminished a people can be each time their collective aspiration is made of no importance. It vacuums them of hope, and can set them on a path of destruction. To this end, I pray you don’t indulge or pander to any interest that will bring about this situation.
This election offers you a chance to write your name in gold – an opportunity to undo the wrongs of the past. Professor Humphrey Nwosu, you remember him, the erstwhile boss of INEC, is remembered today with fondness by majority of Nigerians not because he plied his pedagogy in the political science department of many a Nigerian university. Not at all! He is remembered because he dared to be different and conducted what has come to be known as the freest and fairest election in Nigeria. The opportunity is here with you.
I urge you to seize it, act in good conscience and allow Heaven to take care of the devil in the detail. May the good Lord speed you! However, there is this rumour that a plan has been hatched to derail the process which I feel you should know. But for constant dropping of the name of your organization, the purveyors of the cheap gossip would merit no consideration at all. But because every society is surfeited with imps enough to cause distractions, including my dear Anambra, I suggest that you take proactive measures to forestall possible derailment.
The threat should not be dismissed with the wave of the hand as these fellows seem determined to stultify genuine efforts to have an equitable election. I haven’t the slightest reason to doubt your good office or to ever imagine it could be in cahoots with any plan to compromise the people. Not at all! Yet, their boast of connections in high places is enough to arouse concern. They speak with definiteness that the result must pan out in their favour. Where otherwise -they boasted – the election will be postponed as was the case in Edo. Ordinarily, no one should pay any heed to such swank as our people can distinguish between the command of God and the threat of man.
They can also tell a psychological war when they are up against one. But I got worried when reference was made to the Edo governorship election. The postponement of that election from September 10, 2016 to September 28, 2016 was seen rightly or otherwise as unnecessary, except as an opportunity for one of the candidates to deal with the odds against his chances. Till date, a lot of people are not enamoured of the conduct and will be loath to have it repeated elsewhere. It may be argued that the election was equitable at least to the extent that the Supreme Court affirmed it and the good people of Edo did not protest the travesty. Neither argument captured the damage done to the psyche of Nigerians who had thought the new leadership of INEC was different from what it had been. It is our prayer that Anambra State should be spared that type of election. Not because the people have the capacity to compel a different officiation if the Edo option has been slated. It has to be different for the following reasons. One, because it is the only election within the period, it is less encumbered by pressure.
Both the workforce and material deployment of INEC have enough room for a good job. Two, the state is currently under threat of a shut-down by elements of the Independent Peoples of Biafra (IPOB). That, in itself, is enough trouble however abated it may seem since the Python Dance 11. It will be stretching our luck too far by provoking mass hysteria through avoidable partisanship. Three, and perhaps the greatest of the reasons, is the possible provocation of the fractious youth of the Omambala region.
You may not be aware of this, but the Omambala area is the flashpoint of violence in the state. Because of the rotation arrangement, two of the frontline contenders in the race are from the area.
This area is a veritable ground for recruitment of “militants”, and till date bears the record as having fought the longest fratricidal war in the history of the state. Without sounding an alarmist, another kind of job would be created for the security agents should INEC mismanage the election. As a rule, Anambra is a pleasant state to govern. The people have no great expectations from government. They are sufficient onto themselves and can, on occasion, stand in for government. The state occupies a foremost position in Igbo land because of her unique potentials. It is not without reason that elections in the state are treated with great care. Anambra voters are sophisticated and do not need encouragement to accept or reject a leader as they deem wise. However, if deprived the right of choice, they can prove most intractable. The state can make noise enough to get the nation worried. We are not unaware of how important a peaceful Anambra State is to Nigeria and vice versa. It will be wrong to task the peace by doing anything untoward during the election. A challenged governorship election in Anambra State may worsen the volatile peace in the country. For this reason, our dear INEC, I decided to write you in the hope that you will resist every attempt to exact your office for the success of any candidate in this election.
It will be a disservice to our people if their effort on November 18 is made of no effect just to satisfy a few interests. Our people appreciate the rat race involved in this election and cannot pretend to be unmindful of efforts by those who boast of their contacts in high places in Abuja to subvert the will of the people. But to achieve that through any connivance with the refeering authority will spell a lot of trouble for everybody.
You owe the state a duty to resist any temptation and or intimidation by those determined to lead the state against the dictates of her conscience. What happens from November 19, whether there will be a peaceful Anambra or not, derives from how fairly you choose to conduct the election. I shall be content to bother you less with an unnecessarily long letter for I know you must be busy. Again, may the good Lord speed you!
Anyaduba writes from Abatete