The Director General of the Willie Obiano campaign organisation, Victor Umeh, has thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for his party’s victory at the polls on Saturday.
Mr. Obiano, a former national chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, won the Anambra governorship election with about 55 per cent of total votes cast. He also won in all the 21 local government areas of the state.
He defeated 36 other candidates, including Tony Nwoye of President Buhari’s All Progressives Congress, APC.
Speaking with TVC News in Awka on Sunday after the final results were announced, Mr. Umeh said the free and fair electoral process could be attributed to the president who allowed democracy to take its course without interfering in the process.
In the interview, Mr. Umeh said the peaceful outcome of the elections was a good development for democracy in the country; considering the anxiety by residents of the state, who were afraid the final result may be rigged or changed at the last minute.
“Let me say that INEC surprised everybody with its conduct of the elections,” Mr Umeh said. “If you see how people were reacting as the result was broadcast live. INEC carefully selected the ad-hoc staff and the collation officers independently.
“They did not select politicians, or allow politicians to submit list of ad-hoc staff this time around. In order to avoid rigging of the elections, no one knew where this ad-hoc staff were coming from,” he said.
Mr. Umeh recalled the situation in 2013, when his party, APGA, won in 20 out of 21 local government councils in the state.
He said the party bettered its records this time, by winning in all local government councils.
“It shows that the Obiano projects in virtually all local government councils in the state impacted and won the 21 local governments. The people believe Governor Obiano will bring development to the state, including building an airport in the state within three years of his administration,” Mr. Umeh said
The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Tony Nnacheta, also congratulated the governor and his team for his victory. He said the governor was able to coast to victory in spite of observed weakness of the party during the campaigns.
Mr. Nnacheta assured the citizens of the state of an improvement in the quality of governance under the incumbent leadership. He said the governor’s re-election was a vote of confidence in him and his team.
“I believe there won’t be a slow-down in the tempo of the delivery of the dividend of democracy during the second tenure,” the commissioner said.
In his review of the election result, an ally of President Buhari accused Mr. Obiano of intimidation and harassment of opposition officials during the elections.
Osita Okechukwu, an APC leader and head of the Voice of Nigeria, accused Mr. Obiano of not only manipulating INEC and other security agencies against opposition candidates, but also intimidating and harassing them over flimsy excuses.
Mr. Okechukwu, however, said Mr. Obiano was a beneficiary of the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari to free and fair elections.
“Governor Willie Obiano benefited handsomely from President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to free, fair and transparent election. This is a case of democracy convert, who behaved better than old democrats.
“Otherwise, he (Buhari) couldn’t have allowed Obiano to manipulate INEC and security agencies against his party’s candidate,” Mr. Okechukwu said.
Despite the governor’s victory at the polls, Mr. Okechukwu said it was doubtful if Mr. Obiano would cope with the pressures of governing the state for another four years. He said the governor must have emptied the state’s treasury to fund his electoral victory.
“Yes, free and fair elections. But, one does not know how Obiano will cope with governance. As per finance, when he over-bided other candidates? In our local parlance ‘he used all the firewood.’ It was more or less a cash and carry election,” he said.
Mr. Okechukwu alleged that APC officials, including its state chairman, Emeka Ibe, were arrested by security operatives on the eve of the elections over flimsy excuses.
He said many other APC supporters and officials were also harassed and hounded by security agents at the instance of the governor.
“The election was less than free and fair. The governor just benefited from Mr. President’s commitment,” he said.