The International Writers Magazine: Nigerian Politics
Ngige Re-branded Akunyili
On Sunday, April 24, 2011, just two days to the re-run of the Anambra Central senatorial district election, which happened to fall on the 26th April, the same day the gubernatorial and state house assembly elections were held, many supporters of Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige were happy to read in many national newspapers that the controversial Dr. Alex Anene, the Returning Officer at the centre of the electoral dispute involving Ngige and Professor Dora Akunyili, had apologized to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Ngige is of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) while Akunyili is the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had earlier ordered a fresh election on April 26 in Enugu-Ukwu and Nimo wards 1 and 3 where the elections results could not be obtained.
Ngige, in Igbo language, means trap that catches farm crops invaders, especially animals. Therefore, the innate quality of Ngige shall be regarded here as Ngigesynthesis. This has a spiritual undertone, which in the other way means, ‘no one that unjustly harmed me shall go unpunished’. Initially, Anene had alleged that he was offered bribe by APGA leadership to the tone of N10 million, a duplex and scholarship for his children if he would agree to announce a result he considered mutilated. Anene also said that his life was in danger in the hands of top APGA members for the election. All orchestrated against Ngige!
Notwithstanding, Anene later announced Ngige as the winner of the election, no matter all those ‘bribes’ and ‘threat to life’ mantra. Through Professor Chukwuemeka Onukogu, the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Nigerians immediately heard that Anene had unlawfully left from his duty post, and was nowhere to be found. A new Returning Officer was appointed, and the announced result by Anene was declared as null and void. The election was termed inconclusive, in some wards.
But Ngigesynthesis attracted the attention of Jega, in the crises. Jega asked a body to look into the controversy, demanding serious recommendations. We hear that Ngigesynthesis caught with a panel member, who explained that, Anene had to apologize when he was faced with all the facts of the matter and he realized that he erred. He erred in an election Ngige was declared as the winner? Anene told the panel that he did not set out to mar the integrity of the election.
The power of Ngigesynthesis: We also heard that it was not only Anene that appeared before the panel but five others. Namely, Prof Onukogu, the new Returning Officer, Professor Charles Ezimone, Anene, the INEC training officer, Mr. Ewa, and the collation officer for Njikoka local government, Professor E.L.C Nnabuife. Those invited were asked to support their written presentation with documents.
We heard a member of the panel saying that, while Nnabuife stood his ground that the election results in some wards were inconclusive and stood by an advertorial published in a national daily, Anene could not defend his announcement that Ngige won. But rather, when the panelist asked him how he got his figures since the electoral officers from Nimo wards 1 and 2 had said the results were snatched, whilst the electoral officer from Enugu Ukwu also didn’t submit anything, Anene told the panel that he got the figures from party agents but refused to give their names.
While Ngige was set to ‘re-brand’ Akunyili, as that played, we also heard that Anene was very sober when reminded that as the Returning Officer he was supposed to deal with the Collation Officer and INEC agents and not party agents who could be biased. (Which shows that ‘education’ it not about being a professor or a lecturer).
Having been intimidated because it was not Akunyili that he declared the winner, the panel saw it as a case of Anene versus Nnabuife, because the latter was the collating officer for the three wards, who Anene should have collected his figures from. We also heard that Nnabuife told the panel that he saw Anene driving away in a Peugeot 406 with two men minutes after he told the latter the problems he’d encountered from the three wards.
To substantiate his allegation that some people close to Akunyili attempted to bribe him, we also learnt that Anene became suddenly incoherent when asked to. The panel revealed that INEC agreed with Prof. Ezomone that although Akunyili got 66,273, while Dr. Ngige got 65,576 of the concluded votes, the election should be declared inconclusive since the results from Nimo 1and 3 and Enugu-Ukwu meant 19,000 votes were missing. Ngige petitioned Chukwuemeka Onukogu, the Anambra electoral boss, to cancel the fraudulent elections in the Anaocha LGA where the governor’s alleged rigging scheme was perfected, when the election turned against him, after the announcement that he has won.
A statement issued shortly after that decision by Isaac Umunna, Akunyili’s special assistant on media, she flayed up: “I am shocked and highly embarrassed that Ngige could stoop so low to make frivolous allegations of rigging in a desperate bid to delay the announcement of the election results by INEC…. It is obvious that somebody paid Anene to do what he did and all of them should be made to face the wrath of the law.”
Investigations by many media outfits revealed that Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State allegedly engaged in voter intimidation and vote inflation in Anaocha, his Local Government Area (LGA) as well as that of Akunyili. The investigations showed that Ngige might have been a victim of extensive electoral manipulation in Anaocha, by the Obi-led government of Anambra State.
Till the re-run of the election held on 26th April, 2011, many of us, Ngige supporters, were saying that Akunyili cannot win Ngige in any election, and said that the previous election that declared Akunyili as winner was not free and fair; Obi-led APGA rigged the election. And that Jega should do something about it.
If Akunyili was loved by many and that she has made meaningful impacts in the lives of many too, we have seen that in the re-run, where Ngige sent her biting the dust. In, her defense, Dora Akunyili had said: "The governor lives in his mother’s house and Anene is saying that the governor promised to build a house for him among other things. How can someone who does not own a house build house for another person?"
Many Nigerians regarded this statement as the most RIDICULOUS comment they have ever heard. Let us not say that Akunyili was telling Nigerians how ‘saintly’ Peter Obi was. Many of her supporters said that Dora is a Catholic; she will never rig an election? Wouldn’t Prof. Chukwu Soludu be laughing at this? Let some people’s brain not be under their feet and they should stop standing on it.
However, an observer said that if you say that Obi and Akunyili cannot rig election because they are Catholics, you should go ask the Libyans to tell you the hell they caught at the hands of the Italians (Romans): the Catholics of the world. Is the INEC RO(Anene) not a Catholic too? That INEC has made rigging of poll results impossible, many people did the obverse.
Akunyili’s fans has reminded Ngige when the first election was cancelled that he was paid back in his own coin; they said Ngige became the governor of Anambra State, which the court later found out was through massive rigging and manipulation. He was ousted and Obi came in. They believed that Ngige should go and rest and stop making noise, but he refused. He all the same reminded his critics that leaving in the past is dangerous by his victory which did not now come through the ‘old way’ but through the collective votes of his people, but Akunyili wanted ‘the old way’ and Ngige re-branded her. The people have proved that Ngige is a man of the people. Ngigesynthesis!
Because Ngige is a man of the people those aligned with Dora are now saying that they respect him, but he should have contested in another senatorial district and not have contested against Dora, which has led to the latter’s disgrace, as against what people had thought that she was a woman of timber and caliber. The lady Idol Dora to her fans should be hiding her face in shame by now. And we have heard that she is preparing for a leave. Imagine! Aniocha was just merely 'rebranded' - Akinyuli style! An observer said. Wonders never end in this Obodo Nigeria!
As Dora leaves for her holiday to anywhere, she should also be recounting her lessons: she was once a role model to few people who listened to her noise while in NAFDAC and Info Ministry, but Obi has ‘tried’ for her. We dey laugh o! Somebody said that he thought that the PDP was the problem with Nigeria, but we should face the reality, they are all the same. Rigging is the bane of Nigerian politicians and all the parties take part in it. They only cry foul when it didn’t favour them.
And observer said he is Dora’s fan, but stands for justice. It is clear that the result at Aniocha, in the previous election, may not be fair; someone may have adulterated the result. It was released late and the media raised the suspicion earlier. The margin is close. So let there be a re-run and the authentic winner would be known. And here we are now. The authentic winner today is Dr. Chris Ngige. Onwa! We shall get back to Akunyili later.
Odimegwu Onwumere, Poet/Author, Media/Writing Consultant and Motivator, is the Founder of Poet Against Child Abuse (PACA), Rivers State.