Voters in Anambra State will be choosing who should be their governor in nine days’ time on 18 November. The candidates include incumbent Willie Obiano, for the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Tony Nwoye of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Oseloka Obaze of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Osita Chidoka of the United Progressive Party (UPP).
The first thing worthy of note with this motley crew is that, with the exception of Obiano, they have all switched party affiliations in recent times. Nwoye ran as the PDP’s candidate for governor in 2014, today he has switched allegiances and alphabets. Obaze was Secretary to the State Government during the APGA-rule of governor Peter Obi, and also served in the same capacity under Obiano. Now, Obi is “sponsoring” Obaze to run against Obiano, who himself was installed by Obi.
Two-term governor Obi has since claimed that he made a mistake in endorsing Obiano four years ago, and yet he is trying, without shame, to install Obaze and expects voters in the state to trust his judgment. It was reported that Obi fell out with Obiano because the governor, whom Obi expected to be a puppet, refused to “refund” 7bn naira ($19.7m) from the state treasury that Obi allegedly spent during Obiano’s first governorship campaign.
Chidoka, the UPP candidate, used to be aviation minister under the PDP regime of former president Goodluck Jonathan. He allegedly got the job because his political “godfather” is billionaire oil man Emeka Offor, who reportedly joined the APC in September as insurance against prosecution for corruption. Offor also installed arguably the worst governor in Anambra State history, Chinwoke Mbadinuju, in 1999. Despite his Offor links, Chidoka has been packaging himself laughably as a progressive force in Anambra politics.
The UPP candidate tried to exploit separatist pro-Biafran sentiment by driving the leader of the now-proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu out of Kuje Prison on bail. Kanu and IPOB later declared that there should be a boycott of (s)elections in “Biafra Land” (including Anambra State) until a referendum is held on whether southeast Nigeria should secede from the rest of the country.
On 14 September the military raided Kanu’s home and he hasn’t been seen since. Several people have suggested that southeast governors, including Obiano, were behind the request for the military to clip the wings of the pro-Biafrans, especially as they seemed to be threatening the 18 November (s)election.
Kanu, at one point, claimed that he controlled “100%” people in Anambra State and he was sure they would obey the IPOB demand for a boycott. The call for a boycott has been very controversial, with opponents claiming that if the (s)election was disrupted, the federal government could use it as an excuse to declare a state of emergency and install an administrator, who may not even be an indigene of the state. So, the logic goes, it was better to allow the people to vote for the devil they know.
However, while Kanu/IPOB had no right to suggest or claim there should be no election, calling for a boycott was justifiable. Author and journalist Peter Hitchens said: “The right not to vote is as precious as the right to vote.” Civil disobedience is an honourable course of action in line with an individual’s conscience on matters of right or wrong. Martin Luther King Jr argued that: “I became convinced that non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.”
The (s)election experience in Anambra State since 1999 has been one of entrenching “godfatherism”, corruption and misrule. It is an evil that has enriched a handful of governors, their sponsors and cronies at the expense of the majority. The Chartist movement in 1800s England, who laid the foundations for Western liberal “democracy”, claimed that the vote had little meaning if people’s lives did not improve. There is little evidence to show that the lives of the majority in Anambra State have improved since they started taking part in fraudulent and dubious (s)elections in 1999.
In such circumstances, continuing to vote is an act of folly. Albert Einsten said insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Voting for any of the candidates on November 18 would mean the same results seen since 1999 – looting by a few, impoverishment for many and very little in terms of development strides.
The good people of Anambra State should, quite rightly, refuse to participate in the madness of voting for looters and political prostitutes. Taking part would amount to legitimising a very predictable four years of further looting. Let the looters, the chancers and those that are benefiting from the misery of Anambra people take part in their sham (s)election. The majority should find better things to do with their time, starting with staying at home on 18 November.