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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Anambra Central poll: Will this bravado not boomerang?

If you live in Awka, capital of Anambra State and environ, you have reasons to cry. In fact, weep because there are causes to expunge barrels of tears.

We really have tears and angst aplenty. Worst of it is that we don’t know which gods we have sinned against neither do we know the man or woman we need to go and beg to have mercy and get our troubles solved. Awka is in Anambra Central Senatorial district, in case you do not know. It baffles, sickens and benumbed that of all the 109 Senatorial seats in Nigeria, is only Anambra Central’s is not occupied in the Senate.

Hence my cry because the vacancy did not just emerge and by law and common sense how to fill the space was clear. But for over a year now has been ding-dong and hubla-bhubla about the election into the senate seat for Anambra Central. Things that are ordinarily straightforward have been so somersaulted and jumbled in broad day light that people who deemed their senses of sight, perfect are already wondering whether they are not actually blind. None is any longer sure of an election or the possibility of one let alone filling the vacant senate seat. When that will happen or how it will be done is now pure conjecture. None knows who is holding the aces. Is the blames for the courts of for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)? Should we blame the political parties; the dire ambition of candidates or the plethora of pretenders to candidacy? Does every figure in the roulette bear its taint?

The sorrow is over the staccato of discordant tunes that now bedlam the development. Every side the neck of the argument is turned there are many pendants of thorns that bedeck it. From rueful court rules to visible rigmaroll of authorities duly entrusted with such matters, the suasions to sorrow are immense.

When the law courts ruled that Mrs. Uche Ekwunife’s presence in current the National Assembly was illegal following the flawed election that brought her to the Senate, our people believed the correction of the anomaly would be quick and easy.

But before one could say Jack, all manner of cats and dogs began to rain on the dawn.

Courts and political party began to roll over themselves in churning out contradictory positions on the matter. At one point some parties sought to describe it as bye election even as it was clear to the most dumb of blockheads that a fresh general poll. Supreme Court upheld what we have in Anambra Central is not a bye election but a general election.

At another instance the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) filed a case against INEC, calling for inclusion of a new candidate given that Mrs. Ekwunife , who at the outset contested under PDP moved out of their fold soon after her ejection from the Senate. One court tended to favour the party’s argument but an appellate court favoured same.

Justice Anuli Chikere who in 2016 reasoned that PDP should feature in the poll, later in another related case Sharon Ikeazor and All Progressives Congress (APC) vs. INEC which she ruled in March 2017 held that no new candidate can join the race in a court-declared election.

Viewed alongside her earlier judgement in PDP vs INEC case make legal neophytes like me ask which one do I accept or is someone dribbling who? But when one learns that in legal matters, latest judgement or one from superior courts take precedence I begin to zero on the 2017 rulings.

The judgement gets vent the Article 87, subsection 10 of the Nigerian Electoral Law which strengthens INEC to hold elections irrespective of filibustering, grandstanding, and all diversionary antics of politically active interest groups.

The law states that no court order ‘shall’ stop INEC from holding a general election.

The Supreme Court has established that the Anambra Central polls is a general election. If you are simple-minded as I am, you would wonder what is holding INEC.

Even when there is such a clear legal backing INEC still lags on the poll. The puzzle is for what purpose the commission’s Director of Voter Eductaion Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi while appearing on the Sunrise Daily programme of Channels TV in Abuja on Wednesday dropped a hint of the fear. According to him, there are “at least four or five appeal” cases on the Anambra Central election. One of such cases, he claimed, is a subsidiary case in Court of Appeal asking for the inclusion of a PDP candidate.

The layman’s question here is: which PDP , the one that has decamped or are they to bring in another candidate after the primaries have been held ?

Even in the APC, the former senator, Chris Ngige, who was the party’s candidate then has moved on to become the federal minister of labour.

He does not seem to have declared significant interest in the senatorial seat. So what holds the commission?

There is a hypothesis which I would not want to bandy there are elements of truism in the banter that the fact the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate, Sir Victor Umeh, is almost coasting home the general acceptance would have riled a section of the spoil-joy opposition to throw all manner of spanners in the work. But if God wills and the populace accept how long can mere mortal men and women – no matter how purposeful stop divine purpose?

Mr. Osaze-Uzzi suggested an out-of-court resolution of the impasse. But he seems to have dampened it. “Unfortunately,” he said, “we haven’t been able to sit down and address the matter.”

So when will INEC decide to sit down on this or rally the colony of the vexed to address head-on? Or are our issue and obnoxious denial not worth their time, tact and real act?

If the National Assembly did not sit down and address the case, the Senate seats in Rivers State recently would there have been any senator from the State in the Senate?

If INEC cannot help, what about the courts? Does the matter not deserve accelerated hearing? Justice delayed is justice denied. Soon, just two years ahead, the tenure of the 8th Senate will elapse.

Is it not possible that some shenanigans have perfected a plot that Anambra Central will remain without a senate representative till then? The thought of that is horrible. And I am sure, so will the consequence be to such ilk. Worst: Some goons applaud such cohort of sadism without pausing to count how many innocent people the flip bravado ruin their fates and impoverish more in these already squalid times.

I have a filling that history will visit this sordid chapter politics without conscience with long knives. So I won’t cry again!

By Chuka Nnabuife

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