Anambra passed peacefully, but…

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THE governorship election in Anambra State held on Saturday peacefully. There were few, and minor cases of violence. Nobody or group was able to disrupt the election. None made any such attempt.

CREDIBILITY of the results has benefitted from everyone agreeing that the election was largely free and fair. There is no doubt that security played a big role in the achievement of the feat. We congratulate voters for conducting themselves in manners that left no room for clashes with security agencies.

WITH the exception of the case of the All Progressive alliance, APC, candidate Dr. Tony Nwoye made about the harassment of voters in his locality and the complaints of the Peoples democratic Party, PDP, candidate Mr. Oseloka Henry Obaze, about the card reader data being inconsistent with the results, the election has been awarded pass marks.

BOTH candidates have affirmed that they were not contesting the result in court. Osita Chidoka of UPP congratulated Governor Willie Obiano, more than eight hours before the results were officially announced. Technically, the election is settled, unless the intra-party disputes in the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, upset it.

THE Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, appeared to have done a better work with distribution of materials. Late arrivals were rare. The only complaints were with the card readers, in some places.

HOWEVER, the security cordon on Anambra State, for the election, deserves special attention. Even if it was the reason for the peaceful conduct of the election, is it sustainable in 2019 when election would be on in at least 31 States of the Federation? If the Anambra deployment were considered standard, the police would require 806,000 policemen, which is almost thrice the 371,800 policemen in service.

THE security deployment for the 2017 Anambra governorship election follows –
•Police 26,000
•Army 10,000
•Navy 5,000
•Air Force 3,000
•Civil Defence 11,000
•Dogs 3,000
•Gunboats 100
•Armoured Personnel Carriers 15

The long list did not include Federal Road Safety Corps, Immigrations, Prisons, and in the unique case of Anambra State, neighbourhood vigilante groups. Other non-uniformed security agencies like the Department of State Service are also excluded in the list.

Awesome as the figures are, they do not present a complete picture of the security armada deployed to Anambra State for the election. It is also expected that there would be arguments that the high presence of security personnel ensure the peaceful conduct of the election.

These deployments, which were new, were not to protect 37 candidates and their running mates, who already had police protection. It is doubtful if more than the five main candidates had police protection. So what were 26,000 policemen doing on election day?

They provided guard for electoral materials on transit to the 4,608 polling units, 6,200 voting points, in 179 communities. If the policemen were deployed to each of the voting points, 24,800 policemen would be used, with 1,200 policemen still not deployed.

ARGUMENTS would arise over who manned the roads, the waterways, giving some of the credit to the police. Our point is that the numbers were far too high, and there were obvious wastes. Less than half the number would have done the job, with eth assistance that other agencies provided.

IN most of the polling units, the voting points are in enough proximity that fewer policemen are needed to man them. Some units have up to three voting points. The waste the amassment of security in that order entailed should be checked.

ONE thing that should be commended about the security agents was their politeness. They were firm but friendly. Their point was that without a proper search of vehicles, not matter who was driving them, it was possible to compromise the election. They seemed different from the usual security people who were on the roads daily, extorting money from people.

PEOPLE are asking where IPOB was. The group not disrupting the election was considered another success. IPOB does everything to remain in the headlines. IPOB would be grateful for numerous mentions it got from the police high command as the reason for the number of policemen on duty. The IPOB rally in Onitsha, a week to the election, for whatever it was intended, kept the group in the news through the election.

ITS call for people to sit at home, as they did on 30 May 2017, to mark the 50th anniversary of Biafra was the image that people had expected could be replicated in Anambra on 18 November. The streets were empty, not because of IPOB. People voted without IPOB molesting them. The conduct of security agencies also doused fears that voters would be molested.

THE success of the 30 May sit-home order that IPOB ordered changed the perception of many about IPOB. Where did the organisation get the resources to mobilise for 30 May? What type of organisation shut down the South East so peacefully? The possibility of repeating the 30 May performance could weigh higher in IPOB’s calculations than in mourning its dead member.

IPOB is still claiming credit for the low turnout in Anambra State, where the total votes cast were less than 25%. It has congratulated voters for staying away from the polls. In the previous election it was a little over 26%. Then, there was no IPOB. Who was responsible for the low turn out on 16 November 2013, when Governor Obiano won his first term?

THERE could be a way of giving IPOB credit for the sanity that prevailed in the election. Political chieftains who would have wanted to manipulate the processes could not do so because security minimised movements. The insistence on searching all vehicles limited the movement of “illegal” materials. It could be said that the fear of IPOB intensified security and ensured a free and fair election.

A LESSON for IPOB and governments is that the people have a mind of their own on the issues that affect their lives. They capable of making their own decisions, particularly where fears of danger to their lives are removed. On 30 May, they stayed at home because they believed that the 50th anniversary of Biafra was worth celebrating. On 18 November, they voted because they felt they had candidates they wanted to run their lives.

NOTHING could stop that resolve. On both instances, the people acted for themselves, though others may be the ultimate beneficiaries.

WE congratulate Ndi Anambra for a peaceful election.

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