Tony Nwoye, the governorship candidate of the APC in the November 18 election may not have won the election in Anambra state, as Willie Obiano, the incumbent governor has received the mandate of Anambrarians to remain in power till 2021.
But even in losing , the APC is winning by gaining more acceptance from Anambrians as the party against all permutations garnered more votes than its previous outings as it zoomed past the PDP which was widely expected to be the biggest threat to Obiano for the governorship slot.
What this boils down to is that rather than the fortunes of the APC waning as a fall out of the perceived atrocities perpetrated by the ruling party, especially the army against easterners via operation Python Dance II, ostensibly authorized by president Buhari a couple of months ago, the profile of the APC in the south east seem to be on the ascendancy.
And that is attributable to the charm offensive that president Buhari and the ruling party recently unleashed on the Igbos to counteract the army’s power show aimed at intimidating the now defunct Independent People of Biafra, IPOB movement.
Considering that lPOB which was pushing a secessionist agenda for the Igbos had issued an infamous ‘Vote and Die’ order on Anambrarians, yet elections were not only successfully held without let or hindrance ,but the APC candidate, Tony Nwoye put up a superlative performance, there is a lot of reasons to cheer.
Ordinarily, it was expected that the animosity between the army and Anambra IPOB whose members were allegedly manhandled and by some accounts, lives were lost during the military exercise, would rob off on the APC which is the ruling party that it’s leader presumably issued the order. But clearly such sensibilities did not influence voters, hence it can be concluded that the federal govt’s carrot and stick strategy in Igboland has largely been efficacious.
Another revelation of the outcome of the Anambra election with the PDP breasting the tape in a distant third position, behind APGA and APC is the demystification of the presumed political prowess and clout of the state’s former governor, Peter Obi who was hell bent on supplanting Obiano, his estranged protege while replacing him with his new surrogate, Oseloka Obaze of PDP, but he failed abysmally.
That the PDP could not even garner much more than 70,000 votes in a contest where APGA received votes totaling almost a quarter of a million , should be a rude awakening to the PDP.
Given Peter Obi’s pedigree as the immediate past governor and his boisterousness, Anambra is supposed to be a cherry waiting to be picked by the PDP, but things don’t always turn out the way they appear from afar.
Conversely , the result of the election has become an energizer and boost for the APC as it has now confirmed that more inroads into Igboland is not an anathema or unattainable goal if the right approach and attitude towards Ndigbo is taken by the national ruling party.
This is because, going by the antecedents earlier highlighted , the APC was deemed to be a step child whose future is not so bright, and therefore had no chance of making significant inroad into Igboland.
But the ruling party and its candidate Nwoye ended up with a pleasantly surprising result as it garnered nearly one hundred thousand votes in an environment that’s supposed to be hostile to the party.
In my last opinion article titled “Still On The Political Wind Blowing In Eastern Nigeria” published last week on both mainstream and social media platforms , l had predicted that the Anambra election would be a sort of referendum for the ruling party , APC and that has largely been the case.
Arising from the foregoing, the following lessons can be gleaned from the Anambra elections: for APGA and Obiano, the power of incumbency works.
I did state in the earlier referenced article that as a man who rose to the post of executive director in Fidelity bank, Obiano must be sufficiently abreast of how to plan and deploy strategies and therefore he must have something up his sleeves.
Although it remains unproven, APGA and Obiano have been accused of dishing out cash for votes by some of his opponents.
Most importantly, the Igbos have also proven that they can hold their ground with APGA which could have lost its appeal as the regional party of the Igbos if it’s candidate had lost in the contest.
If APGA candidate had not won, it could have been likened to a situation where any party other than the defunct PRP or CPC would win the governorship election in Kano state or a situation whereby AD or ACN, before they became extinct, could not win the governorship election in Lagos state.
Given the prevailing political inclinations of Nigerians steeped in tribal and religious cleavages/sentiments which most people hold on to like a talisman when choosing the political party to join or candidate to support , the scenarios of PRP/CPC not winning in Kano and AD/ACN not wining in lagos described above are unimaginable and so it is for APGA in the east.
For the APC, despite the cloud of corruption charges hanging over the heads of those in the corridors of power in Abuja , the vexed issue of imbalance in allocation of political offices or sharing of power, the negative effect of the economic recession ravaging the populace as reflected by high unemployment and inflation rates resulting in higher rate of suicides, the the APC could have been hamstrung, but surprisingly, it is growing in leaps and bounds.
The good fortune of the ruling party in the east is not by happenstance. Rather, as l earlier observed, it is owed to the master stroke of releasing the largesse of over N50b to veterans of the Biafran war about 47 years after the unfortunate event; a promise by president Buhari to correct the perceived imbalance in appointment of Ndigbo into public offices; a demonstrable effort aimed at reversing the phenomenon of infrastructural decay which is endemic in the region, particularly the construction of 2nd Niger bridge which has been allocated about N10b in budget 2018; plus the dredging of river Niger to pave way for the construction of an inland port to ease the pains of Igbo traders who currently rely on Port Harcourt and Lagos ports for their business.
All those good news were enough to enchant the Igbos to vote for APC clearly because the lofty promises sounded like sonorous music to their ears hence Nwoye and APC received nearly one hundred thousand votes.
In effect , without detracting from the effectiveness and popularity of Tony Nwoye in Anambra state where he has twice emerged as the second best candidate in governorship contests (in 2013 under PDP umbrella and last Saturday polls flying APC flag) president Buhari’s two days tour of Ebonyi and Anambra states to woo the Igbos helped in no small measure in swinging the pendulum in the direction of the APC and its candidate.
The opposite is the case with the PDP of which the large ego of its notable leaders from that zone has literarily been punctured by the outcome of the election.
It is disappointing that despite the consistent campaign by the former governor Peter Obi and the crowning campaign rally staged by PDP big wigs including former president Goodluck Jonathan only earned Oseloka Obaze very paltry votes.
Unlike, president Buhari who made promises that is realizable to the long suffering Anambrians and he was therefore an asset to Nwoye and APC; Jonathan was more or less a baggage on the PDP campaign as he is still deemed to be a negative factor that’s partly responsible for the Igbos being left in the political lurch in the current dispensation.
A more pragmatic approach by the PDP campaign team would have been to keep the former president out of the forefront of its efforts to woo voters because given their unsavory experience, the average Igbo would not consider Jonathan an asset.
That is simply because despite the ex president’s six years reign, the much sort Onitsha port remained a pie dream, 2nd Niger bridge is still work-in-progress and Igbo roads are in deplorable conditions.
In any case, how can Anambra voters have reposed confidence in the former president’s promises, when despite his averment to fix the critically strategic east-west road in the Niger delta , it has continued to be a mirage, while Port Harcourt airport remains in a state of disrepair and the road to his homestead, Bayelsa and infrastructure in Yenogoa, the state capital are nothing to write home about.
How would Anambrarians be buoyed by former president Jonathan’s exhortation when he failed to implement the recommendations of a national conference which he organized in 2014 and whose outcome would have corrected most of the sociopolitical imbalances bedeviling Nigerian society?
The thinking of Anambrarians would be that if the ex president could not help himself when he was holding sway in Aso Rock villa,how can he be of assistance to them now that he has lost power?
It also did not help that Peter Obi who appear to be in a turf war with the incumbent governor Willie Obiano, seemed to have been on a vendetta going by the ferocity with which he pursued success for the PDP candidate, Oseloka Obazee.
Since it is difficult not to have haters, no matter how saintly a person believes he/she is,Obi must have adversaries who might have gladly thrown spanners into the wheel of progress just to spoil things for him.
Obi’s traducers in the state that he governed for 8 years and where some aggrieved PDP stalwarts openly demonstrated their resentment that he was supporting a candidate that they considered a stranger and openly threatened to team up with the opposition to ensure that their common foe does not prevail, (it was caught on video) it is not difficult to see why APGA achieved landslide victory with votes that nearly doubled the votes cast for all the other candidates combined.
So by and large, rather than being assets like president Buhari was to Tony Nwoye, Jonathan and Obi were more of liabilities to PDP and Oseloka Obaze in Anambra state which is obviously why PDP fortune embarrassingly dipped.
A poignant indication of the apparent splintering of the PDP in Anambra state is that the APC governorship candidate, Tony Nwoye, and the party’s henchmen, Chris Ngige, and Andy Uba as well as UPP candidate, Osita Chidoka are ex-PDP members or alumni.
What the scenario above signifies is that the PDP is still very badly dismembered and therefore remains too much in disarray to win elections.
This simply implies that the reconciliation team of the party is yet to succeed in gluing together the fractured party which in 2015 had a great fall off the political leadership wall like Humpty Dumpty.
Arising from the above and in my estimation, it is clear that the Igbos can respond positively to APC stimuli if there is fidelity in the promises of president Buhari to remedy the perceived wrong that has been done Ndigbo especially in the past two and half years of his administration.
Nothing suggests to me that APC can not be another PDP in terms of sphere of influence in its hey days even without the rotation of power principle which was the attraction of both majority and minority tribes into the PDP fold.
The magic wand that could facilitate and sustain the pending blooming of APC all over Nigeria’s political landscape like green foliage during raining season is the politics of inclusiveness as opposed to exclusiveness which seemed to have been the initial predilection or inclination of Aso Rock during the nascent stage of the ascension of the APC to power.
That to me is what can be taken away from Anambra governorship election which l had earlier tagged a referendum of sorts for the APC.
What is left now is for the ruling party to institutionalize its apparent change of mindset from being exclusive to being inclusive.
The party can do that by projecting the famous quote by president Buhari in his swearing in speech on May 29 2015 “I belong to no one, I belong to everyone”.
That remark must stop being a mere slogan but a committed principle of mr president being implemented and seen to be so.
This is because that mindset is a positive principle or philosophy that resonated with Nigerians nationwide, but which is largely perceived to have been implemented in breach in the past two and half years of Buharism.
In conclusion, as the conventional wisdom dictates, strike the iron while it is hot.
Without further ado, president Buhari should find a place for Tony Nwoye in his new cabinet. He is a great mobilizer and former student leader whose potentials as a veritable political asset to APC in the east should be harnessed without further delay.
That action would be in harmony with president Buhari’s intention to enlarge his cabinet and in fulfillment of his promise to inject new blood into his govt as well as string the Igbos along in the new journey to nationhood.
Such brinksmanship would pull the Igbos out of the brink into the mainstream of Nigerian politics which seem to be the ultimate objective of Mr President, if my understanding of his speeches during his two days tour of Ebonyi and Anambra states, is correct.
Furthermore, such a gesture will affirm the principle of Hardwork and Reward as well as encourage more Igbos to sign on with the party at the center and thus brighten the political horizon for the APC in 2019.
I’m convinced that the current momentum of the party’s unfurling good fortune and footprint in Igboland can only be sustained and boosted by another master stroke such as admitting Nwoye into the federal cabinet.
That would affirm my take away from Anambra state governorship polls that when APC is losing, it is winning.
Onyibe, a development strategist, alumnus of Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and former commissioner in Delta state cabinet, sent this piece from Abuja.