Policy Briefs

7 quick lessons from the Anambra governorship election by Uzonna Ononye

I have had the privilege of reporting and observing elections in Anambra state a number of times, from the stand point of a neutral. Though my neutrality may be called to question as one who not only have my roots in state, but as an individual who will always attempt to air my objective view. But on the grounds of belonging to any political party, I stand without blemish. 
As it is in many spheres of life, what one considers to be objective in politics, may be the most biased and dented opinion to another.

But there are a few lessons almost everyone will agree with as far as the outcome of the November 18 election in Anambra state is concerned.


As the result of the governorship election began to trickle-in from the polling units, particularly from areas considered the stronghold of the opposition in the state, the gloomy image that became clear is that some politicians had enjoyed over bloated ego, believing that the best thing to have happened to the Igbo race was their birth. But the election has highlighted that there is an expiry date on everything, including fame and fortune. If not, how can one explain the defeat of PDP in Ogbaru where its candidate and other party heavyweights come from and Aniocha, the homeland of the godfather?

At some point, some candidates and their supporters had a single agenda; Pull Obiano Down. They had little to say about the value they will add if elected. 

Some believed that because of who they thought they were, the electorates will always trust their judgment. Unfortunately they failed to realise that the Igbo man is a unique breed of humanity who hates to be stampeded. The ‘esi be gi eje be onye’ natural mind set of the Igbo man, particularly those from Anambra state, was triggered to rejecting the gospel of those who wanted to fix what the people considered unbroken.

There are a few, who so much relied on their ‘akala aka’. Their belief is that destiny is constantly benevolent on them. So without a strong enough tie with the man whose future will be determined by them, but has the power through the vote, to settle their destiny, they jumped into the fray. 
After this election, some politicians may need to reconcile with who they really are and whether they made a faulty judgement in looking at their local persona from their image in Abuja.


After the huge successes of the 30th of May sit-at-home exercise across the South East, in commemoration of Biafra, the Indigenous People of Biafra went home with a wrong assessment of what the group really is. IPOB assumed that all the silent citizens, who are never heard nor trooped out for rallies, would bow to all it says. It failed to realise that every social remedy to perceived injustice must first of all, protect the quest to existence. The bare faced arrogance exhibited by the group, was not enough to keep the people away from the polling boots. 

In 2013, when members of IPOB participated in the governorship election, total votes cast was 442,242 whereas APGA was declared winner with 180,178. 

Now this year, when IPOB ordered and enforced a boycott, the winner was declared with 231,071 votes in an election that saw 448,771 total votes cast. Be the judge for yourself. May I quickly advice the group to review its place in the heart of the people before engaging in further agitations and demands in order to preserve what is left of its tattered and battered ego.


The election in Anambra state has re-enforced the belief that Pres. Muhammadu Buhari has an easily definable focus which departs from greed for political conquest. The atmosphere and outcome of the election in Anambra state would have been different if the President is one of those who will not live to see his political party not win, even in areas they dwell on the opposite side of popularity. 

In many occasions, heads of security agencies and others recognise the unspoken words of the man at the top, and then go ahead with actions they perceive will impress him. In Buhari’s case, he did not keep quiet and allow those under him to draw diverse inference from his silence, he was direct and clear. For example, the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, would likely be expecting a pat on the back when he ordered the withdrawal of the ADC to Gov. Obiano 4 days to the election. But the President’s immediate reversal order made it obvious that the IGP was out of tune.

This is a message to all those who jump from one party to another, seeking executive endorsement. What the President has told APC governors and other aspirants is a loud ‘work out your salvation.”  


If marks for the elections were awarded based on performance on the debate organised for the candidates, which was televised across the country and beyond, I am afraid that the governor elect would have been someone else and not Willie Obiano. The PDP candidate, Oseloka Obaze, brought his eloquence, experience, exposure and intelligence to the table, dwarfing other candidate. Osita Chidoka of the UPP also shone like a thousand stars with his well arranged thoughts backed with statistics. Though some of the numbers will be debatable, but the former minister showed preparedness. 

But it seems that the electorates are listening more to the unspoken words of the heart than to rhythm, rhyme and rhetoric produced most times from a soul disconnected from reality.

In any case, elections in Nigeria are hardly won on the debate platform, if not, OBJ, Yar’adua, Jonathan and even Buhari wouldn’t have been presidents. They never participated in the debate prior to their elections.


Those who follow activities on the social media had a different view of how the election was going to pan out. A lot of young people found spaces on different platforms to give expression to their new found interest in governance and politics. 

But the setback here is that most of the social media activists cannot vote. They live in the cities outside of the state and have access to data. Others who reside in the state do not even have voter’s card. And then a percentage of those who reside in the state and have the legal rights to vote are up for the highest bidder. At the point of casting their ballot, a N1,000 note can cause a switch.

At the end of the day, the various posts and write-ups amount to noise as it could not enhance the tangible political fortunes of those favoured.


Did anybody notice how election results from areas where certain incidents took place were being cancelled? If the electoral act allows for the cancellation of results following incidents like ballot box snatching, bulling and intimidating electoral officers, attempts to tamper with result sheets and other acts that use to be normal, it suggests that manipulating election outcome require extra effort.

Before now, election results are sometimes ready before the first ballot is cast on the election day. That is why cases of over voting was rampant. 

In this same Anambra state in 2007, INEC withdrew the initial results announced in the botched governorship election when it realised that the total votes cast as announced was far more than the number of registered voters in the state.

But now, any case of over voting detected at the polling unit or collation centre is treated with immediate cancellation. 


Finally, Anambra state governorship election came and went by without a single case of murder, arson or violent clashes between rival groups.

Unlike some states where the date of the election is announced with the report of mass murder and elimination of key political figures, Anambra citizens engaged themselves and sold their views without violence. 

The gladiators worked so hard to outsmart one another in convincing the electorates, from their perspectives, on why the other candidate does not deserve their votes. Their supporters utilising every possible avenue, made efforts to remain on top. 

The outcome is that as soon as the election results were declared, not a few of the candidates and their supporters congratulated the winner. Some of the congratulatory messages were laced with excuses and explanations of how and why the winner wangled through but that didn’t stop the fact that many have accepted the outcome and moved on.

This is why anytime any day, following and observing elections in Anambra state will remain a delight.
Uzonna Ononye is the Head of News and Ploitical Editor, STV, Lagos


Oseloka Obaze, MD & CEO

Oseloka Obaze, MD & CEO

Mr. Obaze is the former Secretary to the State Government of Anambra State, Nigeria from 2012 to 2015 - MD & CEO, Oseloka H. Obaze. Mr. Obaze also served as a former United Nations official, from 1991-2012, and as a former member of the Nigerian Diplomatic Service, from 1982-1991.

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