Oseloka Obaze: Anambra’s Big Loss, By Chiagozie Udeh
It was on a snowy evening last year in Munich that I received one of broadcast emails containing some policy statements from Mr. Oseloka H. Obaze.
As usual with him, I was super impressed and wrote him asking “I wish you will present yourself soon for the service of Anambra State, you have so much to offer the least you can do for Nigeria is to help govern your State”. By this time, I had no idea he was already consulting. I had arrived Marrakech for COP22 when I received another email containing his interview where he said, “Anambra State has been hijacked”. I could hardly wait to get back to Nigeria to ask him one on one “Sir, are you running?”. When I eventually arrived, I headed to his consultancy office to pop the question and he answered in the affirmative, I was really delighted.
It was the leader Nigeria has been yearning for that Anambra will be getting after such a good time with HE Peter Obi who he was going to succeed before being dubiously disqualified by a section of the APGA leadership who felt his emergence won’t serve the interest of their deep pockets.
Obaze began his campaign from the very grassroots where he formed a movement named Obaze Grassroot Movement (OGM) which was instrumental to him clinching the party ticket as the PDP candidate. He campaigned hard and well. The electorates warmed up to his message. He walked the streets, markets and villages personally convincing the would-be electorates.
But it turned out the result completely did not reflect the hardwork he had put in. Let me say that the result as announced by INEC is not a reflection of the actual votes cast. There is something strange about this election that probably only some INEC staff and top leadership of a few political parties know. In the history of Anambra State and perhaps Nigeria, no governor has won the entire Local Governments in the State, 21 of them in this case. Not even Peter Obi who is almost worshiped by the masses in the State won as much.
His Excellency, Willie Obiano is yet to attain the popularity or achievements of Sen. Chris Ngige talk more of an institution in HE Peter Obi and this is quite in the public domain, how come the election result is telling us something different?
In every election anywhere in the world, top politicians have strongholds. No matter how much they are hated, you can’t win them in their strongholds. How come the incumbent won Oseloka Obaze, Tony Nwoye, Osita Chidoka and Godwin Ezeemo all his top contenders in their own Local Governments? Sen. Chris Ngige normally wins his Idemili Local Government while Peter Obi has his Anambra Central Senatorial district which has seven Local Governments under sufficient control, this time; they lost their very own Local Governments. How possible is that? It is certainly not a landslide unless we are becoming deliberately foolhardy. INEC should be worried that this happened; there are many questions with no answers.
Granted that some political parties shared money to induce electorates but there is a level to which money buy you votes. No matter what happened, PDP was expected to win the two Local Governments in Onitsha as the city in addition to their love for Peter Obi enjoyed a huge portion of the PDP campaign. They were in Onitsha almost on a daily basis. What really happened?
There are allegations that the card readers where already loaded with 50 percent voters information some two weeks before the election and the voters card used is said to be those of the State civil servants which the government had demanded three months before the election as a requirement for payment of salaries. It is alleged that those cards were cloned for this purpose which now accounted for over-voting in all the Local Governments in the State as they struggled to reconcile figures. If this is actually true on investigation, it would never be possible without close connivance with INEC staff. This should be very well investigated. We can’t continue with this stark rape of our democracy.
However, it was an incredible experience actively participating in the 2017 Governorship election in Anambra State working with Mr. Oseloka Henry Obaze. An astute gentleman and a first-class diplomat whose virtues lived through the entire campaign team within such a short period of time. I remain ever proud to be associated with him and this campaign. If this election was to be repeated a 100 times, I will only support Obaze all the time. In him, I found a unique opportunity to place Anambra State far above other States in Nigeria. I was not just looking at what it would mean for ndi Anambra, I was looking at how Obaze’s emergence will help transform the situation of South East Nigeria.
There’s a lot of interest in helping this region, but the question of who to trust is keeping them at bay. The diplomatic community has repeatedly held audience with him on the situation of the South East. At some point in one of such meetings which I was privileged to sit-in, the Consul General of one of the two biggest economies in the world was so impressed that he wondered, “Mr. Obaze, you’re sure not contesting for the President of Nigeria?”. It is a big loss to Anambra State and indeed, South East Nigeria.
Chiagozie Udeh, a Climate Activist and Policy Development Associate, writes from Awka.