Recently Mr. Osita Chidoka, the erstwhile Corp Marshal boss of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and one-time Minister of Aviation under President GoodluckEbele Jonathan’s government, put himself in the news – apparently to kill his momentary bad mood. On his facebook wall, soon after the pronouncement of Prof. Charles ChukwumaSoludo as the winner of the recently concluded gubernatorial election in Anambra State, Mr. Chidioka debuted with an outburst. Mindless of his socio-political status, at least in the context of the Nigerian society of today, Chidioka unapologetically referred to the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and all other persons who did subscribe to the latter’s sit-at home resistance order as “mad people everywhere”. And his rationale for this unpalatable, demeaning and misplaced outburst being that the good people of Anambra state had – in consequence of their habitual compliance with the IPOB’s order – turned out extremely low on November 6, 2021 , for the electoral process of casting votes for candidates of their choice in the just concluded governorship contest in the state. For Mr. Chidioka, therefore, save for this annoying action of these “mad people everywhere” who sat at home and called for a boycott of the Anambra State governorship poll, the turn-out of voters would not have been experienced in such an unprecedented downward trend that saw less than ten percent of registered voters in the state going out to exercising their franchise at the end of the day. Consequently, argues Chidioka, even the contesting political parties had no option in the circumstance but to struggle intensely to buy up the votes of the infinitesimal number of electorate seen at the polling units, and at prices ranging from one to five thousand naira per vote.
In his words, he fumes that“You sat at home and said voting does not count, the election is already rigged. Two hundred nineteen thousand and five hundred eighteen persons (219, 518) less than 10% of registered voters went out, and the parties bought votes from between 1000 and 5000 naira per vote.”
Apparently adjudging the entire exercise as nothing short of a charade, Chidioka further protests that “If voters don’t count, why did the politicians buy votes? At an average of 3,000 per vote, a Governor can be elected with less than 350 million Naira by a hungry minority. If 1 million voters had come out, it would have been difficult. Mad people everywhere.” Indeed, these precisely are the pejorative and frustration-laden words of Mr. Osita Chidioka which implicitly betrays his burning anger over the obvious inability of his own party, the P.D.P, to have won the election by out-buying other political parties in the titanic contest of vote-buying witnessed during the contest in Anambra State. Added to this is the fact that Mr. Chidioka is now left not just disgruntled, but disenchanted with the disinterested Anambra voters whose absence from the polling units would appear to have made the possibility of vote-buying inevitable.
Now come to think of it, what exactly are those points being made by some of us who might not have been instrumental in the decision by the IPOB to issue a Site- at-home resistance order, but did nonetheless subscribe to it, as well as to the notion of people not going out to vote for the present crop of Igbo politicians? First and foremost, it is an open secret that most present-day crop of Igbo politicians do not in reality have the interests of the masses at heart. They are only concerned with those of their own, their family members, friends, relatives and acquaintances whenever they occupy public offices. Therefore, it is on this premise that the idea of having the same set of rulers and their retinue of sycophants coming and returning at every given periodic opportunity makes no more sense. Often, they accost the masses with the same trite appeals for their votes so as to enable them to either secure or retain the same positions of authority with the aid of which they ultimately end up suppressing and subjugating the entire Igbo people to untold hardship – all in the guise of governance. Needless to belabor the fact that the people of the Southeastern region had been ripped enough by their so-called elite. Hence it is high time the masses woke up from their slumber and begin to take charge of their destinies.
Fortunately, the just concluded Anambra governorship election only offered a providential and veritable opportunity for the oppressed masses to somewhat register their profound concerns and angst which already are all galvanized, integrated and/or embodied in the struggle ably led by the prisoner of conscience and the supreme leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. And, whether anybody likes it or not this is just the beginning of the end of the internal apartheid rule in Igbo land being spearheaded by these efuluefu called the Igbo elite. To this end, the likes of Mr. Osita Chidioka who are wont to believe so strongly that those “mad people everywhere” who ordered a sit-at-home resistance order ahead of the contest in Anambra, alongside those who did call for election boycott, should as a matter of course rethink and desist from insulting the sensibilities of the people in general. After all, as an upcoming legal intern, one is strongly convinced that Mr. Osita Chidioka ought to have been taught and as such should know better by now that where the right of Mr. A to call on the people to participate in an election ends is invariably where that of Mr. B to call on the same people to boycott the same election begins. On the balance, the need is thus obviated for either party to revel or engage in name-calling. Attempting to right the perceived wrong that occasioned the basis for these differences in perception and approach should have preoccupied the time and the effort it took from Mr. Chidioka to arrive at his outburst of “mad people everywhere.”
What is more, to the best of the knowledge and testimony of Mr. Osita Chidioka, the just concluded governorship poll in Anambra state could not from all intents and purposes be adjudged to be all that fair and credible, given his facebook report of cases of vote-buying by parties. Interestingly, Mr. Chidioka’s submission in this regard has knowingly or unknowingly rendered him readily available as number one witness to any of the participated political parties in the just concluded Anambragovernorship contest that so wishes to seek legal remedy over whatever lapses and shortcomings that might have compromised the exercise, to the advantage of Prof. Soludo.
Invariably, this brings us to the question of whether votes really counted in the recently heldAnambra state governorship poll. But be it either in the affirmative or negative, the obvious about this hotly contested governorship election in Anambra is that the Igbo universal emotions and consensus that preceded it would appear to have predetermined the outcome even before the actual contest. And this was a trend built around the mindset that it could be any party and anybody but not the All Progressive Congress (APC) or its candidate, Mr. Andy Uba. Essentially, this mentality in turn still appears to blur, downplay, deny or even foreclose the very valid possibilities of heavily manipulated poll that gave rise to the victory of Prof. C.C Soludo. It follows therefore that the political success of Prof Soludo in the contest does not necessarily translate to the non-existence of a fraudulent poll, nor does it validate his choice (as a newly elected governor) as a product of popular will of the vast majority of Anambrarians. At the very best, instead, Prof. Soludo’s electoral success would appear to largely signify and underscore the desperate response of a people entrapped in the dilemma of chosing between a well-known benevolent devil and hordes of untested and unknown agents of Lucifer. Hence, that he was able to secure a lion share of less than ten percent of actual votes cast by the electorate in the just concluded contest in the state does not in any way accord with the democratic principle of popular will of the people of Anambra State as whole. Of this point, it then behooves Mr. Chidioka at this juncture to know that the apathy that really marred the governorship contest in Anambra state cannot squarely be imputed to the IPOB’s sit-at-home resistance alongside theconcomitant calls for election boycott, but largely to the factors of trust deficit and integrity bankruptcy of Igbo politicians who have all perniciously nurtured and sustained these trends for decades.
By and large, it is instructive that the sooner Igbo politicians and elite alike begin to reckon with the facts associated with the disconnect between them and their people, the better for them.Added to this,and most importantly, is that Mr. Osita Chidioka needs to do himself a great service by making capital out of this pieces of advice. For this is indeed the time to make hay while the sun shines.
Onyiorah Paschal Chiduluemije writes from Awka, Anambra State.