THE continued insistence by the leader, Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s that the November 18th Anambra state governorship election boycott order stays despite repeated appeals from various stakeholders for a change of heart is very unfortunate, provocative, unconstitutional and portends grave consequences for citizens of the state who will be disenfranchised at the end of the day and therefore must not stand.
Apart from decreeing the boycott, Kanu had further threatened that come 2019, the officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC will not be welcome in the entire South East geo-political zone comprising five Igbo states, Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo as his group will resist any attempt to conduct polls there unless the Federal Government “give us date for referendum to ascertain whether the people of Biafra want to stay in Nigeria or not”. We find the threats of election boycott totally unacceptable on the ground that the right to vote and be voted for is a constitutionally stipulated civic obligation in all democracies including Nigeria which no one or group of persons should deny eligible voters in the interest of peace, stability and unity of the state as well as good governance.
Nature according to the popular axiom, abhors a vacuum and certainly such will be the lot of Anambrarians and governance the worst hit if the threats by Kanu and his group scales through and this one of the reasons why we welcome the total rejection of the boycott order by virtually all the stakeholders including the apex Igbo organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, political leaders, the clergy and the electorate who insist that the scheduled exercise must hold or nothing.It must be noted that the posers by the Ohanaeze through its President General, Chief Nnia Nwodo on the issue that ”why Anambra people should be denied the opportunity to choose their own leaders and should any of us who is not from Anambra, no matter how highly placed, descend to the arena and dictate for Anambra people when to vote, whether to vote or who to vote for?” are very apt.
Kanu, in other words who hails from Abia state has no locus and no basis in law to order any boycott of Anambra poll or stop the conduct of general elections in Igbo land in2019 as allowing him do that will be unconstitutional and an open invitation to anarchy as the incumbent Governor Chief Willie Obiano and his deputy expected to serve out their tenure early next year and their successors elected on November 18 will have no one to succeed them and this is the crux of the matter. The 1999 Nigeria Constitution as amended did not envisage such a power vacuum nor stipulates the way forward.Therefore, in the opinion of the Ohanaeze boss regarding the agitation by IPOB for Biafra, which we totally subscribe to, “Our approach to the reform of our laws, even if it leads to self-determination or restructuring must be lawful. We must convince other Nigerians of our point of view and strive to make others to share our convictions.
Besides, “Our language must be civil, respectful and lead to consensus building. We must resist any attempt to turn which way we must go, to become a source of altercations between us. As we speak, many of our people living in northern Nigeria are in complete awe regarding how safe they would be after October 1. Other northerners living among us are also worried.”Clearly, the threats by Kanu in all intent and purposes cannot be said to be in the overall national interest and therefore should not allowed by the relevant government agencies to stand while we believe that the forthcoming Anambra gubernatorial election must hold as scheduled. We are totally against any situation that will deny the electorate their civic responsibility of electing those who will superintend over their affairs in the next four years as stipulated in the 1999 Constitution as amended.
Therefore in our view, the security agencies including the Nigeria Police Force and Department of State Services, DSS should not shirk their constitutional duties of guaranteeing law and order and providing the enabling peaceful atmosphere for free, fair and credible elections in Anambra and the entire South East subsequently.Similarly, the INEC should leave no stone unturned in its preparations for hitch-free exercises both in the state and later in the entire South East by deploying officials, materials and other logistics to polling units on election day promptly and we further challenge the electorate to be vigilant and report suspected persons or group trying to foment trouble to the appropriate authorities and should not allow themselves to be pawns in the hands of those who don’t mean well for the state.Ultimately, they should vote wisely and shun any act capable of threatening the prevailing peaceful atmosphere in the state ahead of the all important exercise as well as strive hard to ensure the emergence of a governor and deputy governor of their choice through a rancor-free poll.
It is naïve, unacceptable and dangerous for anyone to contemplate or be plotting against the staging of crucial elections in the South East in 2019 in an attempt to deny the electorate their inalienable right and consequently shut out the region from adequate representation at both the federal and state levels to the detriment of the people.We strongly demand that IPOB should have a rethink and withdraw the boycott order in the interest of not only the electorate but for the peace, stability and continued socio-economic development of the ‘Home for All’ state and major gateway to the South East and oil and gas bearing South South zone.
The point we are making and very strongly too is that a boycott of elections in Anambra and the South East cannot and will not in any way facilitate the actualization or otherwise of Biafra and for anyone to be insisting on same is not only unpatriotic but anti-people and challenge the voters not to be deceived by those pursuing parochial interest and pretending to be fighting for the common good.
Rather the electorate should take the threats as empty and turn out en masse to vote their choice candidate on November 18 as doing otherwise will be a disservice to their father land and put the state in serious jeopardy.
We further challenge both the Anambra state government and the National Orientation Agency, NOA to mount enlightenment campaigns toward
sensitizing eligible voters on the election and the need for them to comport themselves peacefully before, during and after the exercise no matter the provocation from any quarter
For a better society