EDITORIAL: Let the Votes Count in Anambra

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The directive by President Mohammadu Buhari to the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Kpotun Idris to restore the withdrawn security details of Governor Willie Obaino of Anambra and the candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) in the governorship polls slated for Saturday November 12, though commendable, is a pointer to the politicisation of security machinery on the altar of party politics. Idris by his actions has shown he has scant regard for democratic ethos.

It is common knowledge that party politics and elections have always been war in Anambra State and every effort must be made to make the Saturday governorship poll an exception. From the records of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), 37 political parties are fielding governorship candidates for the Saturday poll, hoping to secure the votes of the 2.2 million registered in the state.

The incumbent governor, Obiano, is squaring up to other candidates top of whom are, Oseloka Obaze of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Osita Chididoka of the United Peoples Party (UPP) and Tony Nwoye of the All Progressive Congress (APC). A combination of these political heavy weights couple with the intractable extenuating culture of godfathers, restive foot soldiers and cocktails of desperate propaganda have raised the stakes of the Anambra election making it a cynosure of all eyes as Nigeria prepares for the 2019 general elections.

This is why it is important for INEC to get it right with the Anambra election. INEC’s conduct of the re-run parliamentary election in Rivers State; the governorship election in Edo and Ondo states left much to be desired.

The INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu seems to be aware of the burden on INEC to conduct a free and fair election in Anambra when recently in the build up to the election he said: “every INEC worker must ensure that we all achieve our set goals of making Anambra Nov 18 governorship election flawless and historic” adding that “there are many people out there working seriously to see that the commission fails in its commitment to record free, fair and credible election and you must have this in mind.”

Yakubu needs to go beyond this rhetoric and ensure that electoral materials and officials are deployed to polling units on time. He should be mindful that the Commission should not be seen or perceived to be seen giving undue advantage to any candidate as such actions would breed violence. INEC handling of the Anambra election will showcase its preparedness for the 2019 general election and rekindle the hope of Nigerians in the electoral process.

Armada believes security agencies should complement the efforts of INEC to ensure a transparent election that would reflect the choice of the Anambra people. Though Idris’ actions may have raised some considerable suspicion, hope is not lost as the Police can still redeem itself by refusing to be agents of manipulation and suppression of the will of the Anambra people and save the much maligned image of the Nigeria Police.

The Police should ensure adequate security at every polling unit and collation centre, for electoral officers and ballot material to forestall last minute manipulation by desperate politicians. Other security agents should resist going beyond their constitutional roles for the election so as not to give cause for merchants of violence to throw Anambra into another orgy of violence.

Armada tasks President Buhari to rise above party politics and make it known to all institutions and agencies charged with ensuring a free and fair election in Anambra that they do not need his directives to follow due process in the discharge of their constitutional duties to the people of Anambra State to vote a candidate of their choice.

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