By OKECHUKWU OBETA, Awka –
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday declared Governor Willie Obiano of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) as the winner of Saturday’s governorship election in Anambra State.
Declaring the result of the election, which was keenly contested by 37 candidates, in Awka on Sunday, INEC’s Returning Officer, Prof. Zana Akpagu, said Obiano polled 234, 071 votes to defeat his closest rival, Mr Tony Nwoye of All Progressives Congress (APC), who scored 98, 752 votes.
Akpagu who is the Vice Chancellor of University of Calabar said the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Mr Oseloka Obaze, came third with 70,293 votes.
He also added that the United Progressives Party (UPP) candidate, Chief Osita Chidioka, polled a total of 7,903, while the Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA) candidate, Mr. Godwin Ezeemo, scored a total of 2787 votes to clinch fifth position.
According to him, the total valid votes cast at the poll was 422,314, with a total number of 26, 457 rejected votes, while the total votes cast was 448,771 votes.
After declaring votes scored by each of the contestants, Akpagu described the conduct of the poll as free and fair, devoid of violence.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner for the state, Dr Ukwachukwu Orji, commended the people of the state for exhibiting good behavior.
“No bloodshed was recorded. Let this election not divide the people of the state but bring you together”, Orji noted.
He said Obiano will get his certificate of return from INEC on Wednesday.
Also, Governor Obiano said yesterday that his victory in the governorship election does not belong to him or APGA alone, but to all the people of Anambra
In his acceptance speech titled, ‘Time to Build a New World’, Obiano said, “This sweet victory belongs to Ndi Anambra. It belongs to the wheelbarrow pushers and the okada riders who have clearly seen in our recent political experience, a glimmer of light in the horizon.
“It belongs to the farmers in Ayamelum, Onono, Ogbaru, Omasi, Omor and Ufuma who have now realised that agriculture is the future of Nigeria.
“It belongs to the teachers and civil servants who have seen that a motivated workforce is the greatest asset of any government.
“It belongs to the illustrious sons and daughters of Anambra State who have seen the star of this great state rise in the Eastern skies and have answered our call to bring home their naira and dollars to put our dear state on the investment map.
“This victory belongs to all of us. My dear people, this victory is not a winner takes it all. In the New Anambra of my dream, everyone is a winner”.
He implored other governorship candidates to join in building the new Anambra that the citizens would be proud of.
He said the victory did not come by chance but the final product of the combined efforts of brilliant men and women who sacrificed their comfort to ensure that Anambra’s steady march to progress was not derailed.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for proving to the people of Anambra that under his watch, democracy would have deeper roots in Nigeria.
“Mr President promised us a free and fair election. Today, we can all see that he has kept his promise’’, he said.
Ahead of the campaigns for the governorship poll, the people of the state had resolved that the governorship seat should rotate among the three senatorial zones of the state on equal uninterrupted two-tenure of eight years.
According to the zoning arrangement, the North senatorial district where the incumbent governor hails from is expected to relinquish the governorship seat to the South senatorial district in the next four years being 2022 when the tenure of the winner of the just concluded governorship election would have elapsed.
Mindful of the zoning arrangement as a strong factor in the governorship election, other frontline political parties in the election, including the APC and PDP had selected their flag- bearers from the North senatorial district, Dr. Tony Nwoye and Mr. Oseloka Obaze respectively.
Conscious of the zoning arrangement, these two candidates went as far as signing Memorandum of understanding (MOU) that they would serve only one term if elected and thereafter relinquish the office to a successor from the South senatorial district in the spirit of honouring the zoning formula.
CNPP, Others Hail INEC
Meanwhile, the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) and other stakeholders yesterday hailed INEC over the reelection of Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State in last Saturday’s governorship election in the state.
CNPP also commended the people of the state for conducting themselves peacefully and in an orderly manner despite the number of political parties that fielded candidates during the polls.
In a statement issued by the Secretary General of the Conference, Chief Willy Ezugwu, the umbrella body of all political parties and political associations in the country urged INEC to sustain the “level playing field it ensured in Anambra State up to 2019 and beyond”.
CNPP stated: “For us, the people has spoken and the voice of the people is loud and clear in Anambra State and we urge the candidates to continue to embrace themselves even now that the election is over.
“We rejoice with Governor Willie Obiano on his reelection for a second tenure. We urge him to use this opportunity to build lasting bridges and extend a warm hand of fellowship to his brothers and sisters who contested against him with a view to harmonising the huge human and material resources in the state maximally in his next four years in order to do more for Anambrarians.
“We commend the electoral umpire, INEC, for maintaining proven fairness and impartiality all through the now concluded electoral process in Anambra with the declaration of Chief Willie Obiano as the duly elected governor of the state”, the CNPP said”.
Also, a consortium of election observers in Anambra State commended INEC for the smooth and peaceful conduct of the November18 governorship election in the state.
The observers, including Independent Service Delivery Group (ISDMG) and the Nigeria Civil Society (NCS), made the commendation in their separate news conferences in Awka yesterday.
They also commended INEC for early distribution of materials and officials to the local government areas for the exercise.
Dr Chima Amadi, executive director of ISDMG, however, said that there was late arrival of materials in some places.
He expressed concern over wide reports from field observers indicating vote-buying and inducement of voters and security agencies by political parties and their agents during the exercise.
Amadi said, “Reports from our observers in the field on the widespread open selling of votes by citizens cast a major slur on the integrity of the votes.
“The trend of vote-buying which has become a major feature of recent elections, sadly repeated itself in Anambra”.
Also, Mr Clement Nwankwo, Convener of Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, in his interim report, also noted buying and selling of votes by political parties and electorate during the election.
Nwankwo, however, commended the manner security operatives on election duty in Anambra discharged their duties with utmost civility.
He noted that there were initial delays in INEC deployment of personnel for the elections as well as delay in transporting materials to the polling units.
Nwankwo also said that the secrecy of voters was compromised in some instances, adding that cubicles were displayed openly, thereby depriving some voters the right to exercise their franchise freely.
His words, “Situation Room is also disappointed with political leaders in the state whose conduct, carriage and disposition encouraged blatant buying and selling of votes to their citizens.
“This emerging impunity of vote-buying appears to be a dangerous trend in our elections and needs to be addressed urgently. However, the widespread fear of over-policing of the elections by the security services did not manifest”.
PDP Candidate, Obaze, Rejects Results
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Mr Oseloka Obaze, has rejected the results of Saturday’s governorship poll in Anambra State as announced by INEC, saying it did not reflect the realities of the votes cast on by the electorate.
According to a statement by his media office yesterday, Obaze noted that the over-voting and inconsistencies between the counted ballots and card reader data remains exceedingly worrisome.
The statement made available to LEADERSHIP noted: “The uniformity of the incumbent governor wining twenty-one local governments is a political aberration in the context of Anambra politics.
“The election results as reported shows that nothing matters to the Anambra electorate. The people have spoken. They have taken a cursory long term view of what they wish for Anambra State”.
UPP Candidate, Chidoka, Accepts Defeat
Meanwhile, the United Progressive Party (UPP) governorship candidate, Chief Osita Chidoka, has accepted defeat even before INEC’s final declaration of the winner.
Chidoka, a former Minister of Aviation, accepted defeat in a statement titled, ‘Politics Anambra election: Why I lost polls’.
“I have accepted defeat in the Anambra governorship election even as result is still being announced by the INEC,” he said.
Chidoka said that he lost because he would not play the usual money politics.
His words: “Our campaign attracted the finest and brightest of Anambra. The bold and the courageous were with us as we exerted our best in running the most robust issue-based and technology-driven campaign in the history of our dear state.
“We attempted to change the course of events and chart a new beginning for our state.We believed and we dared; we engaged with all patriotic vigour as we held strongly that the long awaited time for our people to experience a new opportunity had come and we laboured for it.
“In all, our focus was the people; the forgotten, the poor and the disadvantaged. They were the prime impetus for our involvement. We beheld their agony and we strived to redirect and vent that energy through a genuine political process”.
He said UPP heard the complaints of the people and worked to redirect them from the streets to the ballot box.
Chidoka added that he rejected god-fatherism and money politics and made personal sacrifices with small donations and goodwill of a few good men and women.
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