RIGHTS MONITORING GROUP-ELECTION OBSERVATION TEAM (RMG-EOT) PRELIMINARY REPORT ON ANAMBRA STATE GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION HELD ON THE 16TH NOVEMBER 2013
Mr. Peter Obi the current governor stood in the Anambra State governorship election as candidate for the APGA party in 2003 and his rival Chris Ngige contested under the platform of PDP and he was declared winner.
After nearly three years of litigation, Ngige’s victory was overturned by the Court of Appeal on 15 March 2006. Obi took office for on 17 March 2006. On 2nd November 2006, he was impeached by the State House of Assembly after seven months in the office and replaced the next day by Mrs Virginia Etiaba his deputy, making her the first ever female Governor in Nigeria’s history. Mr. Peter Obi successfully challenged his impeachment and was re-instated as the governor on 9th February 2007 by the Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu. Etiaba handed power back to him after the court ruling.
He once again left office on 29 May 2007 following the general elections, which Andy Uba won. Mr. Peter Obi returned to the courts once more, this time contending that the four-year tenure he had won in the 2003 elections only started to run when he took office in March 2006. On 14 June 2007 the Supreme Court upheld Obi’s contention and returned Obi to office. This brought to an abrupt end the tenure of Obi’s successor, Andy Uba, the Supreme Court nullified his election on the grounds that Obi’s four-year tenure should have remained undisturbed until March 2010, that singular judgment changed the political governorship election of the State, probably forever!
On 7 February 2010, INEC declared Peter Obi the winner of the 6 February 2010 gubernatorial election. This election victory gives Governor Obi an additional four years as the governor of Anambra State. It must be noted that the 2010 Governorship election of Anambra State was conducted by Election Monitoring Board set up by INEC, under section 160, of 1999 constitution as amended.
On 16thday of November, 2013, the Anambra State Governorship election was held across the 21 Local Government Councils of the State and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) accredited observer organisations to
observe the conduct of the election. Rights Monitoring Group was accredited as one of the observer groups .The Group observe the conduct of the election in accordance with International standards for democratic elections and adhered to the guidelines for elections observation as contained in the INEC guidelines for observers.
During the election, the Group concentrated on the following areas:
- The legal and institutional framework;
- The electoral /political environment;
- Management of electoral logistics and distribution of electoral materials;
- The integrity of the conduct of the polls including voting, collation and declaration of result.
We witnessed distribution of election materials on Thursday , 14th at INEC State Head Office , Akwa to the LG Areas .On the day of the election , we visited 47 polling units in seven LG Areas across the three senatorial districts, these are: Onitsha North, Onitsha South, Oyi,Awka North, Akwa South ,Orumba North ,Orumba South and Aguata . In some polling units we observed only the accreditation of voters or voting process and observed accounting at only one Local Government Area.
In any election process, the basic ingredients are the right to vote, universal equal suffrage and ensuring that eligible individuals can cast their vote in a secret ballot in a free and fair process. All these features were painstakingly noted during the election.
We are generally impressed by the conduct of the election and felt it was undertaken in a fair and free manner, regardless in some polling units materials arrived an hour behind schedule. The Independent National Electoral Commission conducted the election in a largely transparent and professional manner just as the electoral officials acted impartially in the areas covered while demonstrating high level of commitment .We applauded the dedication and neutrality of the members of National Youth Service Corps who served as electoral officials, they showed initiative and increased confidence in addressing challenges that arose on the election day. We are of the view that an accurate and complete assessment of any election must take into account all aspects of the process, and no election can be viewed in isolation from the socio-political cum geographical context in which it took place.
The factors that must be considered are: the legal framework for the election set by the constitution, electoral and related laws; the ability of citizens to seek and receive sufficient and accurate information upon which to make political choices; the ability of political competitors to organise and reach out to citizens in order to win their support; the conduct of the mass media in providing coverage of parties, candidates and issues; the freedom that citizens and political competitors have to engage in the political and electoral process without fear of intimidation, violence or retribution for their choices; the conduct of the voting, counting, results tabulation, transmission and announcement processes and we agreed that the election, to all intents and purposes, conformed to the best practices.
Democratic election is not merely a technical exercise and the success does not rest exclusively with the electoral authority. Independent National Electoral Commission is charged with providing an effective and neutral setting for voting, the actions of political parties and their supporters, security agencies media and voters significantly impacted on the integrity of the electoral process. Each of these actors contributed to the outcome of the election.
(i) Incomplete voter registers in some polling units and in some cases names were missed.
(ii) Slow rate of voting in some stations mainly due to an imbalance in the ratio of voters to electoral officials.
The shortcomings mentioned require remedial action by the authorities to further enhance the credibility of the electoral process. However, the RMG-EOT is of the view that, notwithstanding these shortcomings, the organisation of the election can be considered as generally acceptable.
. Having found no major incidents or irregularities, the RMG-EOT is persuaded that the governorship election on the 16th, November 2013 meets the criteria of being free and credible.
. Therefore, the RMG-EOT would like to commend the INEC and all other stakeholders for ensuring a peaceful and orderly election in the area visited.
. RMG-EOT also pays tribute to the security agencies for their impartial and exemplary conduct during the elections.
. Similarly, the RMG-EOT calls on all candidates in the governorship election, to accept the outcome of the polls and where absolutely necessary, may resort to constitutional and legal channels, for remedy.
. The RMG-EOT regrets to note the decline of voters’ participation during the election in the country since 2003,we recommend more extensive and permanent voter and civic education should be introduced throughout the year to inform and educate voters of both their rights as voters as well as registration and voting procedures
Isolated crisis noted in some areas during the election was directly occurred due to the utterance and actions of some candidates before the election. We cannot but comment on the pre-election activities of the Political Parties especially APC which achieved a peculiar notoriety. APC appeared to be overwhelmed by fits of paranoia considering their unfounded attacks on INEC, Presidency and security agencies before the election with wrong accusation that these bodies would affected the integrity of the electoral process.
Finally, we commend the enthusiasm of the people of Anambra State and their determination to continue the democratic consolidation through active participation in an electoral process characterised by inclusiveness and transparency
Rights Monitoring Group/Chief Electoral Officer
Rights Monitoring Group-Election Observation Team (RMG-EOT)
Dated 21st November 2013
Tags: anambra 2013 elections, gubanetorial elections, peter obi