By Magnus Onyibe
Tony Nwoye, the governorship candidate of the APC in the November 18 election, may not have won the election in Anambra State, as Willie Obiano, the incumbent governor, has received the mandate of Anambrarians to remain in power till 2021. But even in losing, the APC won by gaining more acceptance from Anambrarians as the party, against all permutations, garnered more votes than its previous outings as it zoomed past the PDP which was widely expected to be the biggest threat to Obiano for the governorship slot.
What this boils down to is that rather than the fortunes of the APC waning as a fallout of the atrocities perceived to have been perpetrated by the ruling party, especially the army against easterners via Operation Python Dance ll a couple of months ago, the profile of the APC in the South- east seems to be on the ascendancy. And, that is attributable to the offensive that President Buhari and the ruling party recently unleashed on the lgbos, to counteract the army’s power show aimed at intimidating the now defunct lndependent People of Biafra, IPOB movement.
Considering that lPOB, which was pushing a secessionist agenda for the lgbos, had issued an infamous ‘Vote and Die’ order on Anambrarians, yet elections were not only successfully held without let or hindrance, but the APC candidate, Tony Nwoye, put up a superlative performance, there is a lot to cheer.
Ordinarily, it was expected that the animosity between the army and Anambra IPOB, whose members were allegedly manhandled and, by some accounts, killed during the military exercise, would rob off on the APC whose leader presumably issued the order. But, such sensibilities did not influence voters, hence it can be concluded that the federal government’s carrot and stick strategy in lgboland has largely been efficacious.
Another revelation of the Anambra election with the PDP breasting the tape in a distant third position, behind APGA and APC, is the demystification of the presumed political prowess and clout of the state’s former governor, Peter Obi, who was hell-bent on supplanting Obiano, his estranged protégé, while replacing him with his new surrogate, Oseloka Obaze of PDP, but failed abysmally.
That the PDP could not even garner much more than 70,000 votes in a contest where APGA received votes totaling almost a quarter of a million, should be a rude awakening to the PDP. Given Peter Obi’s pedigree as the immediate past governor and his boisterousness, Anambra is supposed to be a cherry waiting to be picked by the PDP, but things don’t always turn out the way they appear from afar.
Conversely, the result of the election has become an energiser and a boost for the APC as it has now confirmed that more inroads into lgboland will not be anathema or an unattainable goal if the right approach and attitude towards indigbo is taken by the national ruling part .
This is because, going by the antecedents earlier highlighted, the APC was deemed to be a stepchild whose future is not so bright, and therefore had no chance of making significant inroad into lgboland. But the ruling party and its candidate, Nwoye, ended up with a pleasantly surprising result as it garnered nearly one hundred thousand votes in an environment that is supposed to be hostile to the party.
In my last opinion article entitled “Still OnThe Political Wind Blowing In Eastern Nigeria” published last week on both mainstream and social media platforms, l had predicted that the Anambra election would be a sort of referendum for the ruling party, APC, and that has largely been the case.
Arising from the foregoing, the following lessons can be gleaned from the Anambra elections:
For APGA and Obiano, the power of incumbency works. l did state in the earlier referenced article that as a man who rose to the post of executive director in Fidelity Bank, Obiano must be sufficiently abreast of how to plan and deploy strategies and therefore he must have something up his sleeves. Although it remains unproven, APGA and Obiano have been accused of dishing out cash for votes by some of his opponents.
Most importantly, the lgbos have also proven that they can hold their ground with APGA which could have lost its appeal as the regional party of the lgbos if its candidate had lost in the contest. If APGA candidate had not won, it could have been likened to a situation where any party other than the defunct PRP or CPC would win the governorship election in Kano state or a situation whereby AD or ACN, before they became extinct, could not win the governorship election in Lagos State.
Given the prevailing political inclinations of Nigerians steeped in tribal and religious cleavages/sentiments which most people hold on to like a talisman when choosing the political party to join or candidate to support, the scenarios of PRP/CPC not winning in Kano and AD/ACN not wining in Lagos described above are unimaginable, and so it is for APGA in theEast.
For the APC, despite the cloud of corruption charges hanging over the heads of those in the corridors of power in Abuja, the vexed issue of imbalance in allocation of political offices or sharing of power, the negative effect of the economic recession ravaging the populace as reflected by high unemployment and inflation rates resulting in higher rate of suicides, the APC could have been hamstrung, but surprisingly, it is growing in leaps and bounds.
The good fortune of the ruling party in the East is not by happenstance. Rather, as l earlier observed, it is owed to the masterstroke of releasing the largesse of over N50 billion to veterans of the Biafran war about 47 years after the unfortunate event; a promise by President Buhari to correct the perceived imbalance in appointment of indigbo into public offices; a demonstrable effort aimed at reversing the phenomenon of infrastructural decay which is endemic in the region, particularly the construction of 2nd Niger bridge which has been allocated about N10b in budget 2018; plus the dredging of River Niger to pave way for the construction of an inland port to ease the pains of lgbo traders who currently rely on the Port Harcourt and Lagos ports for their businesses.
All those good news were enough to enchant the lgbos to vote for APC clearly because the lofty promises sounded like sonorous music to their ears, hence Nwoye and APC received nearly one hundred thousand votes.
In effect, without detracting from the effectiveness and popularity of Tony Nwoye in Anambra State where he has twice emerged as the second best candidate in governorship contests (in 2013 under PDP umbrella and last Saturday polls flying APC flag) President Buhari’s two days tour of Ebonyi and Anambra states to woo the lgbos helped in no small measure in swinging the pendulum in the direction of the APC and its candidate.
The opposite is the case with the PDP, which had the large ego of its notable leaders from that zone literarily punctured by the outcome of the election. It is disappointing that the consistent campaign by the former governor, Peter Obi, and the crowning campaign rally staged by PDP big wigs including former president, Goodluck Jonathan, only earned Oseloka Obaze paltry votes.
To be concluded
Onyibe writes from Lagos