The purpose of this analysis is not to predict the possible winner of this race because the current structure of the Nigerian government is not compatible with such a scientific prognosis.
Monday, November 1: 3 out of the 18 governorship candidates in the upcoming November 6 governorship election in Anambra State faced off in a debate as a final chance to woo voters. The winner of this election will succeed Governor Willie Obiano. The organizers, Arise News TV, narrowed down their debate guests to just three candidates: Andy Uba for the All Progressives Congress (APC); Charles Soludo for the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA); and Valentine Ozigbo for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Most analysts believe that Soludo dominated the debate and is therefore the best candidate for the position. There were those who think that Uba was intellectually incompetent because he was not as eloquent and confident during the debate. Others think Ozigbo stood up to the test, arguing and counter-arguing his points, but fell short of dominating Soludo.
Since this debate, social media and news outlets have been saturated with the usual analysis of “, “who-beat-who?”, but an hour or so of debate a few days before the election cannot necessarily justify the best candidates. Furthermore, debate performance in a system where voters pay little or no attention to policy substance and communal interests merely ends up on social media walls for thread arguments.
The purpose of this analysis is not to predict the possible winner of this race because the current structure of the Nigerian government is not compatible with such a scientific prognosis. In a ramshackle election structure where most races are decided by a schismatic court system rather than voters, data-based poll forecasts are completely immaterial. Thus, this analysis uses the discipline of choice in a democracy to educate voters in how to negotiate their political interests beyond the conventional emotive attitude.
In Nigeria’s electoral system, supporters and stakeholders of the candidates need to recognize the unpredictability of poll outcomes. The central party often retains full control of both the electoral and judicial sectors. The electoral wing has full and unsupervised control of poll figures, whereas the highest court of the land is positioned to make the final pronouncement of winners.
For those unfamiliar with Nigeria’s political history, most gubernatorial elections in the south-eastern part of the country have always been contentious. Just last year, Nigerians witnessed how the Supreme Court nullified the election of the PDP’s Emeka Ihedioha as the new governor of Imo State, and, in a shocking verdict, declared APC’s Hope Uzodinma as the winner of the disputed governorship election in the state.
Such is the structure of the Nigerian election system—a pugilistic poll experience, indirectly umpired by the ruling party. This explains the confidence and optimism behind Uba’s candidacy. Here is a current senator who parades a questionable past, lacks the passion and capacity to lead, and, worse, demonstrates that he is intellectually bankrupt about core matters of political governance. But he has an edge. He represents the APC, the national ruling party with a history of overturning elections. He might be aiming beyond the poll outcomes and be hoping to secure his victory from the courts.
Soludo, on the other hand, has a good work record and parades a catalog of managerial competencies that are more than enough for this position. He has been vigorously supported by both the incumbent Governor and the local party, the APGA. But there may be concerns with his do-or-die connection with the incumbent. APGA has an ugly history of fathering election candidates with implausible quid-pro-quo conditions. For instance, Governor Obiano, who fathers Soludo, was once fathered by his predecessor, Peter Obi. This automatic handpicking of candidates leaves voters with little or no choice when electing leaders who can work effectively for them. Soludo remains confident and believes that the majority of voters are on his side.
The final candidate, Ozigbo—the least popular and most controversial of the three—is gravely sandwiched in-between two opportunists: Uba, a candidate planted by the party that controls central government, and Soludo, another spoon-fed candidate planted by the party that controls the government of the state. For Ozigbo to win would be a miracle.
In politics, a candidate’s job qualifications might not be enough in themselves. His character, party affiliation, and ideology must also be relevant to the people’s interests.
Democracy can be draconian when it comes to the electoral process. In politics, a candidate’s job qualifications might not be enough in themselves. His character, party affiliation, and ideology must also be relevant to the people’s interests. So how do the trio: Uba, Soludo, and Ozigbo fare with the aforementioned perceptions?
What are their characters and individual standards? How would the influence each of them exerts on their party help Anambra State to attain superior social and economic possibilities? What are their party ideologies? In an Anambra that is currently battling with violence and security uncertainties, which party has the propensity to negotiate peace in the region? With thousands of radicalized youths roaming the streets and violently demanding to break away from the Nigerian Union, which candidate and party is ready to fill the leadership-performance vacuum that has resulted in these youths becoming vulnerable to unscrupulous activists in the first place?
These are fundamental questions that Anambra voters may need to reconcile before making their voting decisions. In other words, come Saturday, voters must leave their emotions at home and take their reasoning to the polls to make decisions that will impact their lives, community, and prospects.
♦ Professor Anthony Obi Ogbo, Ph.D. is on the Editorial Board of the West African Pilot News. Article is also published in the West African Pilot News
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