Monday, 11 November 2013

ANAMBRA STATE: Election Security Threat Assessment

Key Risk Factors:
•    Influence of the ruling party in favour of its candidate and desperation by opposing candidates to undermine it.
•    Overbearing influence of political godfathers
•    Executing of malpractices perfected at the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) stage
•    Mobilization of students’ gangster (cult) groups

Key Mitigating Factors:
•    Expansion of political space to accommodate twenty three (23) political parties and candidates.
•    Political awareness in the state and voters’ preference to vote candidates and not political parties.
•    Training of DPOs and Area commanders on Election Security Management.
•    Strategic and early deployment of adequate security to identified areas of threat in the state
•    Improvement in INEC’s preparations for elections, which in the past was a major threat to security.



Introduction
As the countdown to the Anambra gubernatorial election continues, the dynamics of politics in the state and the large number of political parties and candidates contesting for the seat make it an election to keenly observe. Although Anambra is not known for election violence, indicators around this election point to the possibility of physical contests. The involvement of significant political heavy weights and money bags that are deeply involved in politics at the state and at the federal level would weigh in significantly and impact on how peaceful or otherwise the election would be. This edition of CLEEN Foundation’s Election Security Brief (ESB) examines the security threats and mitigating factors as well as recommends measures to prevent electoral violence in the Anambra election.

Brief History of Anambra State
Anambra state, designated as the “Light of the Nation”, was created from the defunct East Central State in 1976. The state derives its name from the Anambra River, the largest, most southerly, left bank tributary of the River Niger. Its name is an anglicised version of ‘Oma Mbala’ the original name of the river. The state covers a land area of 4,416 square kilometers with its administrative capital at Awka. The 2006 census puts the population of the state at 4,182,032 making it the second most densely populated state in Nigeria, after Lagos. Anambra State has a total of 1,784,536 registered voters for the 16 November gubernatorial election in the state (with 325 Wards and 4,608 Polling units).

Located in the south-eastern zone of Nigeria, the state is bounded in the north by Kogi State, in the east by Enugu State; in the west by Edo and Delta States and in the south by Imo and Rivers States. Anambra State is peopled predominantly by Igbos. Literacy rate in the state is comparatively high, and there is an abundance of well-educated and skilled personnel in virtually all fields of endeavour in the State. The state has three Senatorial Districts and 21 Local Government Areas. The three Senatorial Districts are Anambra North, comprising Onitsha North, Onitsha South, Ogbaru, Oyi, Ayamelum, Anambra East and Anambra West LGAs; Anambra Central made up of Awka North and Awka South, Njikoka, Dunukofia, Anaocha, Idemili North and Idemili South LGAs; and Anambra South consisting of Orumba North, Orumba South, Aguata, lhiala, Ekwusigo, Nnewi North and Nnewi South LGAs. The distribution of LGAs according to Senatorial District is shown in the table below:

The local government areas are grouped into three senatorial districts:
S/N
Senatorial District
Local government Areas in each district
1.
Anambra North Senatorial District
Onitsha North, Onitsha South, Ogbaru, Oyi, Ayamelum, Anambra East and Anambra West
2.
Anambra Central Senatorial District
Awka North, Awka South, Njikoka, Dunukofia, Anaocha, Idemili North and Idemili South
3.
Anambra South Senatorial District
Orumba North, Orumba South, Aguata, lhiala, Ekwusigo, Nnewi North and Nnewi South

Economy of Anambra State
Anambra state lies in the Anambra basin, home to a rich base of natural gas, crude oil and other minerals. It has an almost 100 percent arable soil and the economy of the state is characterized by primary production activities in Agriculture, manufacturing and commercial activities. The mainstay of its economy is commerce and this contributes significantly to the internally generated revenue of the government. Onitsha and Nnewi have remained as the major towns and the economic hubs of the state. It has many other resources in terms of agro-based activities like fishery and farming, as well as land cultivated for pasturing and animal husbandry. The state has fast growing towns especially those that border the major towns and this is fuelled more by those resettling after the skirmishes in the northern part of Nigeria. The state houses the first Nigerian private refinery Orient Petroleum Refinery (OPR) at Nsugbe-Umuleri area. It also has the following potential tourist sites: Agulu Lake, Ogbunike Caves, listed by UNESCO as a world Heritage and Igbo Ukwu Museum. Currently, Anambra State has the lowest poverty rate in Nigeria.

Politics in Anambra State
Perhaps the most defining feature of politics in Anambra state is the involvement of significant political heavy weights and money bags, with tremendous political leverage at the state and the federal level. This informs the persisting “political godfather” culture by which individuals, often favourably disposed to the powers at the centre, can influence the outcome of elections or the dynamics of politics within the state. More so, party primaries and elections in the state have been so enmeshed in controversies that the judiciary has had to intervene on most occasions.

The fact that 5 persons have occupied the governor’s seat in Anambra since 1999 attests to this. Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) served as governor from 1999 to 2003, and many people attribute his failure to his fall out with his political godfathers, a debacle that also trailed his successor. In 2003, Dr. Chris Ngige, then of PDP was sworn in as governor. He was abducted by his political godfather and was removed in March 2006 by a court decision in favor of Mr. Peter Obi of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). Peter Obi was in turn ousted by a faction of the Anambra State House of Assembly in November 2006 and replaced by his deputy, Dame Virginia Etiaba. In February 2007, Peter Obi was reinstated as governor after the court nullified his removal. In April 2007, Mr. Andy Uba of PDP was elected as governor of the state and was sworn in on 29 May 2007. However, in June 2007 the Supreme Court ordered his removal on the ground that Peter Obi's tenure had not ended. In February 2010, Peter Obi was re-elected governor for a second term of four years.

The 2013 governorship election primaries were not without the intrigues that have come to define Anambra politics. This was evident in the primaries that produced most of the candidates, especially those from the four leading parties contending for the election. This resulted in significant cranks within the parties. Money plays a critical role in determining the flow of votes in Anambra governorship elections. Many people in the state have acquired immense individual economic and political power, and this weighs heavily in all political calculations in the state. Religion is also a crucial factor in the dynamics of politics in the state. The dominant denominations are Catholic and Anglican, thus, political parties often exploit joint ticket of candidates from the folds. Politically, Anambra is a bag of mixed sorts. It is home to founding members and chieftains of PDP, the ruling party at the federal level, including Dr Alex Ekwueme (former Vice President of Nigeria). At the state level, the ruling party APGA is very popular and is considered as an indigenous party. It fielded igbo icon the late Ikemba Odumegwu Ojukwu as its presidential candidate in a number of elections. 
Parties and Candidates in the Gubernatorial Election
Twenty three (23) political parties / candidates are contesting the Anambra gubernatorial election. They are:
S/N
Names of candidates
Political parties
1.
Okeke Chika Jerry
Action Alliance (AA)
2.
Chukwuemeka Nwankwo
Accord Party (AP)
3.
Dr. Ifeatu Ekelem
Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD)
4.
Engr. Anthony Anene
Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN)
5.
Comrade Aaron Igweze E
Alliance for Democracy (AD)
6.
Chief Anayo A. Arinze
African Democratic Congress (ADC)
7.
Patrick Chukwuka Ibezimako
African Peoples Alliance (APA)
8.
Senator Chris Nwabueze Ngige
All Progressive Congress (APC)
9.
Chief Willie Maduabuchi Obiano
All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA)
10.
Chief Austin Nwangu
Citizens Popular Party (CPP)
11.
Chijioke Geofrey Ndubuisi
Democratic Peoples’ Party (DPP)
12.
Christian Ikechukwu Otti
Independent Democrats (ID)
13.
Chief Dennis Nwaforka Ogugua
KOWA Party (KP)
14.
Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah
Labour Party (LP)
15.
Pastor Simon Chinweuba Okafor
Mega Progressive Peoples Party (MPPP)
16.
Okonkwo Emeka Webster
National Conscience Party (NCP)
17.
Prince Leonard Uchendu
New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP)
18.
Tony Nwoye
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) 
19.
Ezeemo Godwin Chukwunenye
Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA)
20.
Hon. Basil Iwuoba Oranekwu Ijedinma
Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN)
21.
Onuorah Basil Onyeachonam
Social Democratic Party (SDP)
22.
Barr. Okoye Godson Mgbodile Ohaenyem
United Democratic Party (UDP)
23.
Prince Akaneebu Ogochukwu N. C
United Progressive Party (UPP)
However, the contest seems to be mainly between four parties and candidates, based on party structure, membership strength, popularity and economic weight. These are the APC, APGA, LP and PDP.
APC Candidate: Senator Chris Nwabueze Ngige
Chris Ngige (fondly referred to as Onwa) is no stranger to politics in Anambra state and Nigeria. A medical officer turned politician, Ngige is a founding member of the People's Democratic Party (PDP).  He has also served as Assistant National Secretary and Zonal Secretary of PDP in the South East. He contested the gubernatorial election in Anambra State in 2003, and was declared the elected governor and sworn in. His tenure was marked by friction with his political godfather, Chris Uba, the high point of which was his abduction. He however prevailed and spent 33 months in office within which period he garnered a lot of goodwill in the state until his election was annulled by the Courts in 2006. Peter Obi was then sworn in as governor. Ngige has since then contested for governorship in 2007 and 2010. He was however elected, in 2011, as a senator for Anambra Central on the platform of the former Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).

APGA Candidate: Chief Willie Maduabuchi Obiano
 Willie Obiano hails from Aguleri town, in Anambra North Senatorial District. He is a seasoned administrator, entrepreneur and an accomplished banker, having served as Executive Director of Fidelity Bank. His foray into politics from the private sector is not without its challenges and advantages. He is relatively new in politics in Anambra State, and therefore not as popular as some of the other contenders. However, as the candidate of the ruling party, APGA, he enjoys significant leverage from the incumbent governor and the popularity of the party. He also brings to the table very strong credentials and expertise as an administrator. His senatorial district is yet to produce a governor, but has one of the highest numbers of registered voters, therefore his candidature is an opportunity to change that history.

LP Candidate: Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah
Ifeanyi Ubah hails from Umuanuka in Otolo, Nnewi. Rising from very humble beginnings he has built a business empire within and outside Nigeria with ventures ranging from supply of tyres and autoparts to oil and gas. He founded Capital Oil & Gas Industries Ltd, which has grown to become a major player in the industry. Beyond his business prowess, Ifeanyi is also popular for his philanthropy. He provides free university education, drinking water, kerosene for indigent persons. He has also made ICT and infrastructure donations to the various tertiary institutions and churches. Perhaps in recognition of his contributions he was conferred with Honorary Doctorate Degrees by the Federal University of Technology Owerri, Imo State and the Montclair State University, New Jersey, USA.

PDP Candidate: Tony Nwoye
Tony Nwoye is from Nsugbe, Anambra East LGA. He started his sojourn into politics as a medical student in the University of Nigeria Nsukka where he was elected into the Students Union House of Representatives. He was subsequently elected as the National President of the National Asssociation of Nigerian Students (NANS). Within the state, Tony has served as Assistant Secretary and later Chairman of PDP, Anambra State. He has also served in various capacities at the federal level, including as a member of the Federal Committee on 2006 Census and the Presidential Committee against illegal arms and violent crimes. In 2011, he was elected into the House of Representatives, to represent Anambra East/West Federal Constituency. 
Text Box: General Synthesis of Security Threats
The following are the key threats to security in the 16 November 2013 Anambra State gubernatorial election:

·         Division in the ranks of some of the major contending parties might see whose edged out of the primaries try to get their pound of flesh by undermining their party during the election.
·         During the Continuous Voters Registration, it is alleged that many people were imported from outside the state by politicians to participate in the exercise. Direct Data Capture machines and staff that manned them were cornered in some cases and students were also recruited to register at strategic locations. Attempts to implement malpractices hatched at this stage might pose serious security challenges during the election.
·         APGA conceded the governorship candidacy to Anambra North Senatorial District. The zone is known in the state for its traditional bloc votes but has not produced a governor since the inception of the state. It also has the highest number of unemployed youths who already see the zoning format as an avenue to produce a governor that will reduce their poverty incidence. The tendencies to ‘perfect the bloc votes’ and moves to counter it within and other side the zone pose serious security threats at the election and could degenerate to political violence.
·         Tendencies of hijacking INEC staff and materials by godfathers and possible resistance by party agents and the electorate due to increase in political awareness could lead to political violence.
·         In spite of the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) respectively, a good number of students are allegedly still waiting to complete the deal they commenced at the Continuous Voter Registration stage with politicians, while others are waiting to be recruited to do shady deals during the election. Their continuous stay on and around the campuses prior to the election poses security threat.
·         The involvement of students’ gangster (cult) groups, especially the Neo-Black Axe Movement, to commit all sorts of malpractices at the election is allegedly very likely. This draws from the history of their engagement by one of the candidates when he was a party chairman in the state. Members of other groups like the Buccaneers and Vikings might be recruited by other candidates to contain the activities of the Black Axe and this might lead to some violent conflict.
·         The state is known for the presence and activities of informal policing and vigilante groups. It is pertinent to note that members of these groups and private security outfits are providing security presently for most of the candidates vying for the election and their campaign trains.  No doubt, if the activities of these groups are not properly checked, they could degenerate and constitute security threat.

Potential Flash Points
This assessment identifies the most violence-prone areas in the 2013 gubernatorial election as follows:

·         Nnewi North (Umuanuka, Otolo Nnewi) is the home of the Labour Party gubernatorial candidate. Clash between LP supporters and other party supporters have already been recorded in this area. The town is considered as a stronghold and vantage area of the Labour Party candidate, however, with opposition from some of his kinsmen who are wealthy and influential, heavy security presence to forestall violence is crucial as the candidate may not want to lose in his town.

·         Idemili North and Idemili South LGAs are considered the stronghold of APC whose candidate is from Alor, one of the towns in Idemili North. Defeating the APC candidate in these LGAs could amount to demystifying him and the candidate may go all out to prove that he has firm grip of the area. His home town Alor, and the following towns of Ogidi, Nkpor, Abatete, Ojoto, Nnobi, Umuoji are some of the places to be under close watch.

·         Anambra West and Anambra East and are considered the stronghold of the APGA candidate, especially Aguleri and its environs. Incidentally, the PDP Tony Nwoye is from the area (Nsugbe), therefore the chances of clash and violence may be high. The Aguleri area has a history of ethnic violence; there are chances that it could play out in political form, if they feel threatened that their son is losing. Ayamelum is another LGA that may witness intense contest that may degenerate to violence due to the presence of political heavy weights in different political parties who are from the area.

·         Anaocha is the local government area of Governor Peter Obi. The Governor will probably leave no stone unturned to deliver his LGA. The other parties may try to undermine him and prove that he is not popular in his immediate constituency which he would resist. There is chance that violence could erupt when two opposing forces clash.

·         Ogbaru LGA and some towns in Anambra West LGA have remarkably difficult terrain and riverine areas. Administration of election and security deployment in these area may be confronted by some logistic challenges, most notably transportation.

Threats mitigation factors
The following are mitigation factors that may dilute the potency of the threats analysed above:

·         The electorate is becoming more political aware and clearly identifies the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates that they want to vote for. This could go a long way to check violence and the influence of godfatherism in Anambra State.

·         The four political parties considered as the top contenders in the election have divisions in their ranks as a result of the fallouts of their primaries. Some aggrieved members have moved to other parties, some have withdrawn their support and followers or chose to remain neutral. These have greatly doused the tension in the state and introduced a sort of equilibrium.

·         Being the only election for the day, there will be sufficient human resources for all associated agencies, namely INEC, security agencies and election monitors to ensure free conduct of the election;

·         The ongoing sensitization of the populace by civil society organizations on the need to eschew violence during and after the election, can help mitigate violence;

·         Sensitization and training of security officers on their roles during election remains crucial to the security of the election.

Conclusion and Recommendations
To nip security threats of political violence in the bud, the following recommendations are imperative:

·         All the students (including those of institutions on strike) should be directed to vacate campuses immediately. This is to check easy recruitment of cult members, mercenary voters, etc.

·         INEC and Security personnel at polling units should watch out for impersonation of voters as a continuum of malpractices hatched at the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) stage.

·         INEC should dispatch electoral materials (both sensitive and non-sensitive) to polling units in good time as well as grant equal access to party agents to observe the processes. These will calm tension and ensure closure of voting, collation and announcements of results at polling units and collation centres respectively in good time.

·         Notable potential flash points during the election should be given more security protection, together with more election observers, in such a way that no ballot station will be left uncovered.

·         All political parties should be persuaded to sign a peace memorandum, stating their commitment to eschew violence and work peacefully during and after the election.





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