Soludo wins Anambra governorship election

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Charles Soludo
Charles Soludo

•I’ll never disappoint you, says winner

Candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Professor Chukwuma Soludo, has emerged Anambra State governor-elect, after winning yesterday’s supplementary election in Ihiala Local Government Area of the state with 8,283 votes.

Thus, overall, Soludo won 19 out of the 21 local governments in the state and polled a total of 112,229 votes to defeat his closest rival and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Valentine Ozigbo, with 53,807 votes.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Andy Uba, came a distant third with 43,285 votes, while the Young Progressive Party’s candidate, Ifeanyi Ubah, scored 21, 261 votes.

Based on this, the Returning Officer and Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar, Professor Florence Obi, pronounced Soludo winner of the election, having satisfied the constitutional requirements, and after three days of waiting to conclude the exercise.

Obi, who announced the result at about 1.50 this morning after adding the figures garnered by each of the political parties in the supplementary poll to those already declared on Sunday from the 20 local government areas, said the total number of valid votes in the election was241,523; rejected votes stood at 8,108, while the total vote cast was 249,631.

“This is the moment we have been waiting for. I want to use this opportunity to thank the chairman of INEC and his team for this opportunity given to me and my university to partake in this Anambra 2021. I thank the service chiefs, the people of Anambra State. We remain very grateful.

“Allow me to read this form EC8E, which I have completed. I Prof Florence Banku Obi, hereby certify that I’m the returning officer of the Anambra governorship election held on 6 and 9 of November.

“That Charles Chukwuma Soludo of APGA, having satisfied the requirement of the law, is hereby declared the winner of the election,” Prof. Obi said,” Obi said.

In his acceptance speech, Soludo, charged his competitors to accept the verdict of the Anambra people, promised never to disappoint his people.

“To my fellow candidates in the election, I wish to congratulate you for the gallant contest. Our people have spoken overwhelmingly and surely, that voice is the voice of God. The ultimate winner is the Anambra people.

“We are all winners. I hereby extend my hands of fellowship to all of you. I need all of you to succeed. Politics aside, we are all brothers. Let’s come together for the Anambra project. There is enough room for everyone to contribute for the service of our land. I will need the guidance and contributions of everyone to succeed.

“With utmost humility and gratitude to God, I accept the result of the 2021 Anambra Governorship election as declared by INEC. This reflects the supreme will of the almighty God and an overwhelming sacred mandate of the people. For 12 years since the massive clamour by the people of Anambra for us to serve them, we persevered till this divine moment.

“This is a divine journey, whose time has come. To God be all the Glory and adoration. We have a very long list of persons, who God used to make this divine moment a reality.

“In particular, we thank all APGA members, especially, our national leader, Willie Obiano and his wife; our national chairman, Chief Victor Oye and his wife; members of our Board of Trustees; members of our National Executive Council, state exco, etc, for availing me the opportunity to fly the APGA flag.

“Many thanks to our legal team and all other stakeholders that worked tirelessly to see us through. We are grateful to the clergies, the churches, traditional rulers, labour, youths and non-indigene associations, businessmen, persons with disabilities, those in the diaspora and all our donors.

“We are humbled by the massive support from stakeholders across the entire country. In particular, I thank my wife and children for their love and sacrifices. As I promised, I will work hard every day never to disappoint you.

“At this moment, we must remember and will continue to remember all those who died in the course of this movement, especially, the three policemen, who were killed by unknown gunmen during our town hall meeting with youths in my ward. May God continue to grant their soul eternal rest.

“This election tested the resilience and integrity of our federal institutions. Many times, there were tensions, especially as one party boasted that it must ‘take or conquer.’ This has proven that this country can achieve anything. The judiciary stood for the integrity of that institution and we salute them for standing up for justice.

“We thank President Buhari and our security agencies for ensuring a level-playing field. We must particularly, commend the Chairman, management of INEC for systematically striving to bequeath a legacy of free, fair and transparent electoral system to Nigeria.”

Similarly, a former chairman of APGA, Senator Victor Umeh, while reacting to the victory, said the election was transparent, and is the best election so far held in the state.

“We have again won the state, despite the fact that some people boasted that they will win the state. This is to tell them that APGA is on ground, and it is not just about boasting of winning, but doing your homework well. I urge them to concede victory to our party and the candidate, because the people made a clear choice.”

The Anambra governorship election was on Sunday declared inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) after voting could not hold in Ihiala, a local government area of the state, with some 148,000 registered voters, following alleged violence.

This, however, was after Soludo, had surpassed the constitutional threshold and was on the cusp of victory, having cleared 18 out of the 21 local government areas in the state.

But, with 18 local governments in the bag for APGA and Soludo; Nnewi North for Ifeanyi Ubah and YPP, and Ogbaru for Valentine Ozigbo and PDP, Soludo had only led Ozigbo, who turned out his closest challenger, with about 45,000 votes, when Ihiala alone had over 148,000 registered voters.

The collation officer for Ihiala had, however, alleged that the election was marred by violence, a development he claimed made voting to be impossible, before it was moved to yesterday.

Yet, with 18 local governments to APGA’s credit, Soludo not only crossed the threshold, he also led convincingly, making his win incontrovertible.

Below is a breakdown of the results, local government by local government, capturing the four major parties of APC, APGA, PDP and YPP.

In Dunukofia LGA: APC, 1991; APGA, 4124; PDP, 1680 and YPP 1360. In Awka South LGA: APC, 2595; APGA, 12,891; PDP, 5498 and YPP, 919. In Oyi LGA: APC, 2830; APGA, 6133; PDP, 2484 and YPP, 900. In Ayamelum LGA: APC, 2409; APGA, 3424; PDP, 2804 and YPP, 407. In Anaocha LGA: APC, 2085; APGA, 6911; PDP, 5108 and YPP,868. In Anambra East LGA, APC, 2034; APGA, 9747; PDP, 1380 and YPP, 559. In Idemili South LGA: APC, 1039; APGA, 2312; PDP, 2016 and YPP, 752.

In Onitsha South LGA: APC, 2050; APGA, 4281; PDP, 2253 and YPP, 271. In Njikoka LGA: APC, 3216; APGA, 8803; PDP, 3409 and YPP, 924. In Nnewi North LGA: APC,1278; APGA, 3369; PDP, 1511 and YPP, 6485. In Orumba South LGA: APC, 2060; APGA,4394; PDP, 1672 and YPP, 887.

In Ogbaru LGA: APC, 1178; APGA, 3051; PDP, 3445 and YPP, 484. In Onitsha North LGA: APC, 3909; APGA, 5587; PDP, 3781 and YPP, 682 and in Aguata LGA: APC, 4773; APGA, 9136; PDP, 3798 and YPP, 1070. In Orumba North LGA: PDP, 1847; APC, 2672; and APGA, 4787 and in Ihiala LGA: APC, 343; APGA, 8283; PDP, 2,485 and YPP, 344.

From Idemili North LGA: APC, 2291; APGA, 5358; PDP, 2312 and YPP, 902. In Ekwusigo LGA: APC, 1237; APGA, 2570; PDP, 1857 and YPP, 727. In Nnewi South LGA: APC,1307; APGA, 3243; PDP, 2226 and YPP, 1327. In Awka North LGA: APC, 755; APGA,1908;

PDP, 840 and YPP, 381. In Anambra West LGA: APC, 1233; APGA, 1918; PDP, 1401 and YPP, 357.

Meanwhile, the last leg of voting in the governorship election, held amid mixed occurrences.

The election had been suspended in Ihiala by the Independent National Electoral Commission ((INEC) on Saturday, when the rest of the state went to the poll. This followed reports of irregularities, which caused INEC to declare the Anambra State governorship election inconclusive, and postpone voting in the local government area, with 323 Polling Units, to today.

The election process was, however, threatened, when gunmen suspected to be operatives of the Eastern Security Network (ESN), said to be the armed wing of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), engaged the joint security operatives in a gun battle in Ihiala. It was gathered that the gunmen sought to enter Ihiala through Imo State, as Mbosi and Orsumoghu, where the attack happened, were border towns with communities in Imo State.

IPOB alleged attempt to Scuttle the Vote in Ihiala

A Thisday reporter, who covered the supplementary governorship election in Ihiala, was prevented from entering the area by security operatives, who turned back journalists at Mbosi/Orsumoghu junction for their safety. After a brief search, they asked the journalists to return, on the insistence that a gun battle was on, ahead.

The joint security operatives comprised mobile policemen, Army and Navy personnel, and others security agencies. Two unidentified policemen and a soldier, told the reporter, “You have to go back for your own good. For three hours now, we have been exchanging fire with your IPOB brothers. Our men are in the bush now, and it will be risky for you to take this route.”

When contacted, the Anambra State Commissioner of Police, M. Echeng Eworo, could not confirm the development, but merely asked the reporter to call him back later.

Thisday  also noticed a team of security men loaded into 10 Toyota Hilux vans, heading to Mbosi/Orsumoghu junction as reinforcement.

The police in Anambra State have denied knowledge of the killing of anybody during the supplementary election in Ihiala. This was after claims on the social media that soldiers guarding the distribution/Collation Centre shot dead a yet-to-be-identified man.

When journalists visited the local government headquarters, those interviewed denied knowledge of the incident. Even when contacted by telephone, the Zone 13 Police Headquarters Public Relations Officer, Nkeiru Nwode, said there was nothing like that before the police.

Nwode said, “We don’t have such report and I don’t think something like that happened.”

But the voting process was largely peaceful, as in the main election.

The candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Mr. Obinna Uzor, a lawyer, voted in Umunnamehi Primary School, Ihiala Ward One. Uzor said the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, (BVAS) in the area was slow, and that caused a lot of delay.

He stated, “It is only VIPs that when they cannot be captured, they continue to wait to ensure that they eventually get captured and vote. But the locals among us, once they cannot be captured, they just leave. We love technology, but INEC should fine-tune it. This can affect the outcome of the process.”

In Ihiala town, INEC officials depended on facials to accredit voters, using the BVAS.

An INEC official, who spoke to journalists in Eziani Primary school, Ihiala ward one, polling unit 10, on condition of anonymity, said, “The thumbprint is not functioning, but the facial verification is what we are using to issue out accreditation.”

The INEC technical officer, however, said it took between 30 seconds and one minute to accredit one voter, and the process progressed speedily.

Deputy Speaker of Anambra State House of Assembly, Hon Pascal Agbodike. Agbodike commended the functioning of the BVAS machine for its swiftness in accrediting voters.

Agbodike, who spoke to journalists after voting at Mbosi Girls Secondary School, said the BVAS machine functioned very smoothly.

He said, “I have voted, and I have also observed voting in my ward, Mbosi ward 20, and I can say that the working of the BVAS is perfect for now. Things are going well and the BVAS is working, from what I can attest for now.

“Anambra people are largely peaceful people, and you can see that everything is going on well. Whether election or not, our people are their brothers’ keepers. Whatever you may have experienced is just because of politics. After the election, we will all go back to being brothers as we have always been.”

A visit to Mbosi community, ward 20, showed that voting started early.

A technical officer with INEC, who preferred anonymity, said the voting went on well.

The officer said, “We started voting about 12pm, and there is satisfactory level of turnout. The Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machine is working perfectly today. We updated our software and today, it is not taking up to one minute to accredit one voter.”

In a related development, security operatives also barred Umeh, from entering Ihiala, during the election.

There had been restriction of movement in and out of Ihiala, with stern looking military operatives manning the boarders of the community.

Umeh, who hails from Aguluzoigbo in Anaocha Local Government Area, was said to have entered Ihiala, but when he attempted to enter the local government secretariat, where materials for the election were being distributed, security operatives barred him.

Umeh, a state agent of the party, who arrived Ihiala secretariat around 10:30am in company with other party members, was turned back by the GOC, 82 Division, who said he was at the secretariat to ensure things went well.

According to the GOC, the former lawmaker had no business being at the secretariat as he was a state agent.

“You are not supposed to be here. You are a state agent, not LGA agent,” the senior military officer stated.

INEC had notified all stakeholders in the election that collation of results would resume at 9pm at the State Collation Centre, INEC State Office, along the House of Assembly Road, Awka.

In another breath, the immediate past convener of the Civil Society coalition, Situation Room and the Executive Director of the Policy and Legislative Advocacy Centre (PLAC), Mr. Clement Nwankwo, has urged INEC to do a review of the processes leading to the deployment of BVAS.

Nwankwo said the commission should consider a review of its strategies for movement of sensitive materials for election, adding that the current logistics arrangement is very disappointing.

Speaking on the Arise Television News Channel, Morning Show, programme, Nwankwo said the introduction of BVAS was an innovative effort, which was in line with the desire of Nigerians to enthrone a transparent electoral process.

He said, “I think the experience wasn’t nice and going forward, the shortcomings will serve a useful lesson to see what needs to be done to improve on the use of electronic means in the conduct of elections.”

Nwankwo spoke of the security situation in Anambra State, adding that contrary to widespread fears over a possible outbreak of violence and serious breach of peace during the election, such incidents were minimal. He said it was necessary for the security agencies to review their strategy of heavy deployment of security forces in the South-east.

The Situation Room said it observed late commencement of voting in the rescheduled election.

A statement issued by the Convener of the Situation Room, Mrs. Ene Obi, on Tuesday, said voting was yet to commence as at noon, and a few voters were seen arriving and leaving the polling units ahead of the arrival of the INEC ad hoc staff.

Obi said, “Reports received from Ihiala LGA indicate late deployment of materials and INEC staff from the LGA office. At 10am, which was the scheduled start time, there was no sign of INEC staff and voting materials at any of the polling units.

“Situation Room notes that voting is starting more than two hours late on the average due to late deployment of voting materials and INEC ad hoc staff. INEC will need to extend the time beyond 4pm to ensure all the voters, who have come out to vote actually cast their votes.”

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