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Amanze Obi: Willie Obiano and Peter Obi’s next role in South east politics

Even though a winner has already emerged, waiting for official declaration, there is no compelling reason for the Anambra election to go into a supplementary one. This supplementary thing, we must recall, took place in Imo state in 2011. As I write, its legality or otherwise is still being contested in the courts. As if the bad example from Imo was not enough, Jega now wants to inflict the same anomaly on Anambra state. What a state of confusion!

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Let us recall that the National Assembly election of 2011 was messed up by Jega’s commission. He had to cancel it and a fresh election was scheduled. But Nigerians did not complain. Since then, Jega’S INEC has conducted minor elections here and there. But I do not know of any that can be given a clean bill of health.

But that was not all that made the Anambra governorship election a much talked about political event.  Even the sound bites reverberated beyond Anambra State. The pulsating uncertainties of 2015 also came into play. It reared its ugly head each time the Anambra elections came into focus. In what direction would the wind blow? How real or powerful is the grand coalition called the All Progressives Congress (APC)? Will it seize the day? Can it upstage the octopus called the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) at the centre? Will it begin its expected or anticipated onslaught on the polity from Anambra state? Issues such as these presented analysts with intriguing scenarios.

The events leading to the elections had all the trappings of a melodrama. The plots were full of sensation. The dramatis personae appealed violently to the emotions of the people. That was to be expected in an election that paraded equally dramatic characters. The frontrunners were warhorses in their own right, be it in politics or in corporate governance. Each had, what in Nigerian parlance, is described as “war chest”.

Given that set- up, the thinking in some circles was that Jega was brought to do right what Iwu was said to have done wrongly. Consequently, they have chosen to gloss over the man’s missteps.

A word for Jega’s INEC

Having successfully taken charge of his territory when it matters most, Obi has joined the tiny league of governors who went the extra mile to produce their successors. Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Governor of Lagos state between 1999 and 2007, typifies this breed. After working so hard to keep PDP at bay in Lagos state, Tinubu has succeeded in establishing a political dynasty that is difficult to dismantle. That explains why he is the most prominent politician in south west Nigeria of today .

Even though the entire polity took interest in what would happen in Anambra state, the man at the centre of the stage was Peter Obi, the hard-fighting Governor of the State. The peculiar story of Governor Obi in Nigerian politics is too well known to require any elaborate analysis here. Suffice it say, however, that the man fought uncommon political battles that have made him a reference point in Nigerian politics. Having weathered the storm in Anambra state for eight eventful years, the election that was to produce his successor presented him with another litmus test. Will the man they call ‘Peter the Rock’ make any impact beyond the Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu mystique which many said was his unique selling point for  eight  years? Will he be overrun by a formidable opponent, Chris Ngige, with whom he had squared up in the past? Will Ngige deal a devastating blow to all that Obi had laboured for  for eight years?

But it must be pointed out that the greatest weapon Obi needs to advance his hold on politics is to ensure that Awka Government House remains loyal to the cause he has been fighting for. This is where the new man in the saddle, Willie Obiano, comes in. He must not work at cross purposes with the man who brought him from relative obscurity to become the Governor of Anambra state. If he keeps faith, his days in politics will endure.

For successfully defending his title after all that he has gone through in politics, Peter Obi can qualify as an astute strategist who can be relied upon for results when it matters. Having produced a successor under the APGA machinery, Obi has established the party as a formidable force in Anambra state. With the Obi feat, APGA has become for the south east what Tinubu’s  many  political rainbow coalitions which have today emerged as APC is for south west Nigeria.

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

by Amanze Obi

But beyond warding off external aggressors, Obi was at home with his people of Anambra state. The resounding victory of his All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) over the other political parties has come to prove that Governor Obi’s earlier victories were not a fluke. It has also come to show that Obi is not a pushover. He is not just an incumbent, he is one with a strategy. He knows what to do to take charge of situations in his domain and he did just that.

All that Obi needs to do now is to look beyond Anambra state. As he leaves office in a few months time, he now has what it takes to build a political power bloc that can make APGA the party to look up to in south east Nigeria. Obi can become the rallying point of this new movement. He does not need to be told what to do to make this happen. He already has a well-honed strategy and acumen that can make him the anchorman of south east politics. Some politicians in the south east are likely  to sneer at this suggestion. They may even feel that Obi is not ripe enough for the role being carved out for him. But we should not bother about their reservations. After all, we are living witnesses to how some of them who were once privileged frittered away the opportunities at their disposal.

These were the worries. They were part of the anxieties that attended the Anambra scenario. But all of that have now been consigned to the ash heaps of modern history. Obi has weathered the storm to the consternation and amazement of those who thought otherwise.

But the worst of them so far appears to be the latest election in Anambra state. INEC could not get it right.  A supplementary election will soon hold to make up for the huge number of cancelled votes. This is happening  because INEC under Jega was overwhelmed by the election in Anambra state. It could not handle the situation.

PeterObiEven though the entire polity took interest in what would happen in Anambra state, the man at the centre of the stage was Peter Obi, the hard-fighting Governor of the State.

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So far, Jega’s INEC has not redeemed its image and the confidence placed on it by Nigerians must have been misplaced. There is therefore no reason whatsoever to imagine that the Jega era is better than the one before it.

Having given Obi his due, we must spare a thought for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) under Prof. Attahiru Jega. The man appears to have been escaping public scrutiny  because he succeeded a man whose stubborn courage had a riveting effect on the polity. Prof Maurice Iwu, Jega’s predecessor, conducted a historical election that saw to the transition from one democratically elected government to another. It was no mean task. Regrettably, many an armchair antic saw the situation differently. The result was the harsh words that many of them had for Iwu.

The worry in all this is that Nigerians are looking forward to 2015, a year many of them approach with apprehension. Yet we do not seem to have an electoral commission that can weather the storm. But it is strange, however, that Nigerians appear to be satisfied with Jega’s drawbacks.

But Obi did not arrive at his Damascus with ease. He was harangued and buffeted from many angles. Some even sought to intimidate him. That was why a man called Nasir el-Rufai did the unusual. He  left his base in northern Nigeria and berthed, rather strangely, in Akwa to participate in the Anambra election. He wanted to impress it upon Peter Obi and the people of Anambra state that the election was not their event alone. The entire APC machinery, in whatever guise, was interested in the matter. el-Rufai, through the party he represents, wanted to intimidate Peter Obi. He and his party wanted to pull the rug off Obi’s feet. But Obi, from what we saw, was alive to his responsibility. He saw through the el-Rufai plot and went for broke. He dismantled the el-Rufai shenanigan and reminded the interlopers that he would not watch and have Anambra be destabilized and decapitated. He made the el-Rufai mission still born.

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