Elections into Anambra government house and markets must be inclusive, popular, credible and transparent — Intersociety
As a leading democracy and good governance body corporate campaigner, it is the insistence of the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law that elections into Anambra Government House and Markets must be inclusive, popular, credible and transparent.
Having carefully watched how things have unfolded in the State with respect to the subject matter under reference, Intersociety is saddened and dismayed that technical stakeholders (Government of Anambra State and leaders of leading political parties and their key players) are whimsically and capriciously bent on distorting due processes and procedures capable of visiting the State and her citizens and residents with disastrous consequences especially as they concern the citizens and the State’s security, safety and welfare.
On issues of gubernatorial nomination forms, ward delegates and governorship primaries, all entrusted in the hands of the technical stakeholders, selfish attempts have been made and sustained to bend the rules and thwart due processes thereby plunging the parties into fractionalization, factionalization and other avoidable or unnecessary rivalries.
The State’s ruling political party, APGA, is the number one guilty party in this respect. It is demeaning, discreditable, brazenly selfish, crisis ridden and life threatening for a political party to have tricked its governorship aspirants into spending hugely including purchase of nomination forms worth tens of millions of naira, multi million naira worth of billboards and other sundry expenses in addition to multi million naira worth of “brown envelopes” for key party leaders; only for the aspirants to be schemed out at eleventh hour through the so called “aspirants screening disqualifications”.
This was done without returning all the millions of naira collected.
In the words of Dr. Emeka Odogwu of Mass Communications Department of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, “if APGA governorship primaries are inclusively and conclusively conducted today, Obiano will still be a winner”.
This further means that APGA would have been better off if it had gone to its Governorship primaries allowing all its governorship aspirants to participate.
In the end, Governor Obiano as the leader of the Party will still have the appealing and persuasive capacity to have his choice candidate and potential successor emerged.
On the other hand, APGA as the State ruling party got it right and impressed Intersociety for not violating the State’s Governorship rotation principle particularly by zoning the seat to Anambra South Senatorial District.
It is therefore our wish and fervent prayers to see the Party participating in the Nov 6 Governorship Election.
The Party’s core stakeholders including Governor William Obiano must shift grounds and close ranks so as to engage the Independent National Electoral Commission to resolve their differences.
We hereby appeal to the State delegates of other leading political parties especially APC and PDP and their National and State leaderships to toe the line of APGA by respecting and upholding the Governorship zoning principle and choosing their Governorship candidates from Anambra South Senatorial District.
Intersociety also strongly urges the two leading political parties and others to play by the rules and avoid rancorous and acrimonious Primaries.
On the issue of recent announcement by the outgoing Government of Anambra State of “lifting ban on elections into Anambra Markets”, Intersociety is highly suspicious of the State Government’s sudden u-turn.
This is more so when we have been called names and accused falsely and hatefully in recent times especially since 2019 for calling on the same Government to openly and credibly democratize Anambra Markets and allow their members free hands to choose their leaders.
It is therefore our finding that the rationale behind the State Government’s sudden u-turn is caused by the Government moves to conduct kangaroo and non inclusive elections by installing the Government appointed caretaker committee chairmen and principal others as “the unopposed elected” chairmen and others and this is further found to have geared towards gagging the next Governor and Government of Anambra State and implant such markets with seeds of discord and riotous social relations.
It must be remembered that Intersociety has been at the forefront of campaign for enthronement and sustenance of democratic leadership into the State’s 62 major Markets.
The State, till 2019, had a central market leadership, called “AMATAAS” which claimed to have been elected through ‘electoral college’ and it was dissolved in 2019 by the State Government and replaced with an appointed caretaker called “ASMATA”.
At different markets across the State, appointed caretaker arrangements were indiscriminately imposed especially in those where their leadership tenures had ended. Instead of allowing them to hold fresh elections, the Government of Anambra State interfered and imposed caretaker committees.
In some cases, elected leaders whose office tenures were still running were unceremoniously removed or booted out. For instance, Gozie Okeke, the elected chairman of Onitsha Main Market, was unceremoniously removed in 2018 by the State Government and replaced with Government appointed caretaker committee which remained imposed on the Market till date.
The following are the current Market caretaker committee chairmen imposed by the Government of Anambra State in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021: ASMATA, Ikechukwu Ekwegbalu, Onitsha Plastics Market, Bernard Onyebeke, Ogbaru Ogbo-Efere Market, Okechukwu Abanelo, Oba Electrical Market, Chinedu Egbuche, Onitsha Tools and Allied Market, Sylvester Ahanonu, Onitsha Main Market, Kenneth Onyeka, Onitsha Plumbing Materials Market, Chikaodiri Ejiofor, Onitsha Drugs Market, Donatus Ajamma, Ochanja Main Market, Nelson Ojukwu, Onitsha Bridgehead Central Market, Sunday Obinze and Ogbaru Main Market, Ndubuisi Ochiorah.
These are just to mention but a few. It is also estimated that half of the State’s 62 major Markets are presently under Government appointed caretaker leadership and plans have been concluded to return their chairmen as “unopposed” through kangaroo elections.
At Ogbunike Building Materials Market election that took place few days ago the State Government appointed caretaker committee chairman, Jude Nwankwo, was returned as “unopposed” alongside others loyal to him as members of his executive committee.
The gagging of these markets by the Government of Anambra State is also dotted with favoritism, nepotism and cronyism.
Those appointed as “Caretaker Committee Chairmen” in various markets by the Government of Anambra State through its Ministry of Commerce and Wealth Creation, presently headed by Mr. Uche Okafor (Wiper), are given three months, or six months, or one year tenure and this is remotely done with a price running into millions of naira, renewable with same and nonstop so long as “they are capable”.
The named Commissioner, the Governor’s senatorial kinsman, is also reported to have been penciled down for the post of ‘Deputy Governorship Candidate to Prof Charles Soludo’.
At Onitsha Drugs Market, plans have been concluded to return some of its caretaker committee principal officers including head of the committee as “unopposed” through a discredited election using discreditable delegate lists instead of “Line Registers”.
This month of June 2021 marks one year of the one year tenure given by the State Government to the 57-man caretaker committee in the Market.
During the Market’s Government aborted 2020 electioneering, candidates were heavily extorted by the State Government to the tune of tens of millions of naira including forcing their chairmanship candidates to pay N250, 000 each, secretarial candidates N200, 000 each, vice chairmanship candidates N150, 000 each and others N50, 000 each, for “interest forms” and mandatory payment of three years tax, three years tax clearance by chairmanship candidates.
We hereby call on the outgoing Government of Anambra State to rescind its unpopular and crisis ridden decision to hurriedly and hastily impose “leaders” on various Markets in the State especially by returning the existing caretaker committee chairmen as “unopposed” through kangaroo elections.
As a matter of fact, all the existing caretaker committee chairmen and their secretaries should be bared and declared ineligible to stand for fresh elections into their markets.
Bonafide traders of such markets should be allowed free hands to choose their leaders democratically and in line with their Markets’ bylaws and existing electoral guidelines including ‘Line Membership Register based Option A4”.
The candidates of the leading political parties capable of popularly and credibly winning the Nov 60 Governorship Poll in the State are therefore put on notice and advised to carefully watch the latest antics of the outgoing Government of Anambra State for purpose of reversing same and doing the needful if popularly and credibly elected and sworn in.
For: International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law
Principal Officers: Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chinwe Umeche, Esq., Chidimma Udegbunam, Esq., and Uju Igboeli, Esq.
Contacts: Phone/WhatsApp: +2348174090052, Email: email@example.com, Website: intersociety-ng.org
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