As the November 6 date for the off-season poll in Anambra state appears in the horizon, key stakeholders in the exercise are filled with trepidation not knowing what the outcome will turn out to be. Initially, there were calls for the postponement of the election by notable Igbo leaders of thought. But all that seem to have subsided especially as the authorities decided against succumbing to the inanities of a few unruly street urchins intent on causing discomfort for the rest of the society.
However, even with the assurances of the federal government, actually, President Muhammadu Buhari himself, this feeling of anxiety cannot be said to be misplaced going by the security situation in the state and, indeed, the entire South east geopolitical zone. For the security agencies, the culprit in the whole saga of uncertainty is the Independent Peoples of Biafra (IPOB). This organisation is threatening to disrupt the entire process especially since the re-arrest of their leader, Nnamdi Kanu, and the subsequent protest that gave rise to the sit- at- home order by its leadership.
Based on this threat, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is facing a lot of challenges primary among which is the security of its personnel and that of the electoral materials. It was reported that INEC is actually storing the materials for the election in a neighbouring state much to the disapproval of the Anambra state government.
To make matters worse, the ad hoc staff recruited by the electoral body was reported to have all resigned en masse further compounding the logistic challenges INEC faces that are fast becoming nightmarish. As a newspaper, we empathise with INEC because this is a trying time for it as it strives to ensure that the election is hitch-free. Even at that, we think that a lot of attention is being given to IPOB more than they deserve. We are by no means under-estimating the security threat that organisation poses. Nevertheless, it is our opinion that it is exaggerated.
For anyone familiar with Anambra state politics, it is easy to point out that the real threat to the forthcoming election is the politicians themselves. The state’s politics is controlled by men and women over-flowing with cash and are ready to deploy same to get what they desire politically. The candidates are backed by godfathers who see politics as an investment and are ready to go to the most ruthless limit to safeguard their investment.
Given that scenario, they do everything fair and foul to ensure that the votes are in their favour. They have a record of fighting to finish. Some of them have standing armies well-funded and well equipped. For them, IPOB is the fall guy for their excesses which the security agencies are surprisingly over-looking. For these set of politicians, the tactics is to create an environment of crisis and use same to perpetrate their evil plans.
Just in case we have forgotten, was it not in that state that a duly elected governor, already sworn in, was arrested and locked up in a toilet even with all the security paraphernalia available to him? Was it not in the same state that one misguided businessman with questionable wealth claimed to have elected everyone from the speaker to the sweeper and insisted that they must do his bidding or hell would be let loose? IPOB was not on the scene then.
This newspaper is raising these reminders as a way of rousing the security agencies from their slumber and to the reality that those to police more effectively are the politicians who are willing and able to corrupt the system if that is what will give them what they so inordinately want. There are reports that some of them are not even campaigning at all because they are adept at electoral manipulation and falsification of results. And for them, these unwholesome practices are probable under a cloud of confusion.
Furthermore, in Anambra state, as in most parts of the country, there are plenty of small arms in the wrong hands. IPOB members happen to be just some of them. It is our considered opinion that while the security agencies are looking out for IPOB, they should also spare a moment and look into the activities of other miscreants out to commit mayhem because they know it will be blamed on IPOB. We are not forgetting the activities of some rogue elements within the security agencies who make themselves available to the highest bidder using state resources to serve their own unpatriotic interests.
We are enamoured by the assurance of the Police high command, in particular, which has come to realise this possibility and is making efforts to police the officers who police the public. As a newspaper, we are committed to a free and fair election in Anambra state. We are determined to support all democratic processes that will guarantee good governance to the benefit of the suffering masses. To that extent, therefore, we urge the government to pull all the stops to ensure the success of Anambra poll.