The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has slated November 6th for the highly anticipated 2021 Anambra election. While this move was definitive, the primary elections conducted by some political parties saw an avalanche of discord that challenged the legitimacy of the candidates that emerged.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressives Congress (APC), and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), considered the major political parties contesting in the elections have had varied degrees of friction over the authenticity of the gubernatorial candidates to represent their parties.
Nonetheless, this is not the only significant thing around the Anambra Elections. Below are some occurrences you probably don’t know about the Anambra polity.
A drop in Female contestants; a rise of younger candidates
Out of the 18 contestants confirmed by INEC for the 2021 Anambra governorship elections, only two of candidates contesting for the governorship position are women. This is a striking decline compared to the previous 2017 elections when five women contested for the post. Also, only five women are contesting as candidates for the deputy governorship post. This is a decline from a total of eight women that contested for the post in 2017.
APC has Male-Male running candidates. While INEC is yet to release the names of candidates for the PDP because of ongoing discord within the party. Out of the major political parties contesting in the elections, apparently only APGA has a woman for the position of deputy governor.
Out of all the candidates screened and confirmed by INEC, the youngest candidate is Ekene Alex Nwankwo, at 36 years old while at 62 years old, Senator Andy Uba is the oldest candidate for the 2021 Anambra State Governorship race. The list of candidates is shown below:
For persons familiar with the polity of Anambra State, issues trending around the primary elections are not novel and surprising at all. In fact, Anambra State is the only state that has had five governors under contentious cases from 1999 to 2007, including a governor who only served for 14 days.
In 2007, Andy Uba won the Anambra state Governorship election and was sworn in on May 27, 2007. However, barely 14 days after he was sworn in, Uba was removed from office on the orders of the Supreme court. This swift change of events reinstated Peter Obi, who was then the incumbent Governor of the state. This occurrence made Obi the first governor in the state to win two terms.
Again, Virginia Etiaba was appointed Governor of the state on November 3, 2006 when Peter Obi, was impeached by the state legislature for alleged gross misconduct. Etiaba, served for only 3 months before handing back the mantle to Obi after an appeal court nullified the impeachment.
Hence, the electoral and political chaos in Anambra is not new as it is still one of the few states in the country where more than two parties are major. APGA, PDP, YPP, APC all stand a chance.
The Anambra elections has come under threat
In the 2017 Anambra elections, the Nigerian Police deployed about 26,000 police officers to prepare for the gubernatorial elections. This number of deployed security officers was almost four-times the initial number of the police in the state (5,000).
The deployment was not only to ensure that the forthcoming election was free and fair, but to clasp the threat posed by The Indigenous People of Biafra, (IPOB) who had threatened to disrupt the 2017 gubernatorial elections by conducting rallies and protests against the elections.
In fact, on a Friday, November 10, 2017, a week to the elections, the group marched around some streets in Onitsha, Anambra State, chanting threats: “if you vote you will die. Don’t go out, stay in your house.” The group announced its intention to stop the elections and also impose a lock-down on the day of the elections.
Though the 2021 gubernatorial elections are not far off, and Nnamdi Kanu, the IPOB leader, is under security incarceration, the Anambra gubernatorial elections may still attract security forces even more than before, particularly because of the low voter turnout in the last 2017 Anambra elections that has been linked by analysts to the threat spread by IPOB before the elections.
It’s less than 4 months to the 2021 Anambra gubernatorial elections and INEC has reinstated its commitment to making sure the elections live up to expectations. However, issues around the Party primaries conducted ahead of Anambra governorship elections appear to be a tradition. According to CDD, since the return to democracy in 1999 in Anambra State and Nigeria in general, there is hardly a time of absence of court cases after governorship party primaries to challenge outcomes of primaries. This reality places voters in a dilemma and hardly gives them time to get to know who earns their votes.