Trading Imo state for perilous politics

by L.Chinedu Arizona-Ogwu

Imo my home-state is rejecting a plea from this government. One may simply wonder what kind of plea; for peace or just to impose a candidate. Anybody who has studied the fate of an inconclusive election, and the difficulties of establishing a widely accepted government that differ in religious-creed, but a language and marital customs, knows that the task in making gubernatorial election hitch-free inside Imo State is all but a threat to constantly break down in communal fragmentation, tribal war and sentiment.

When everything was falling apart in Imo State, we were feeling like we were on board a ship in a stormy sea, which might sink any moment. At that critical time, the Ohakim government held the helm firmly and steered us safely to the shore .We are stunned by the magnitude of corruption of his many commissioners, the state law-makers, politicians, government employees, businessmen

After few years misgovernance took a heavy toll my state of Imo, with all menacing setbacks. Derailed politico-bureaucratic leadership set the tone of moral erosion and societal degeneration. Recent history shows that misgovernance had led the -eastern heartland towards inevitable destruction. Democracy could not flourish in the state amidst the politician-made humanitarian crisis in a corruption-ridden small eastern heartland.

As the years passed, the unrelenting problem of misgovernance was exacerbated to a point of no return, until this time of political transformation (godfatherless). This was the time when disorder was the order, irregular was regular, and ohakim government was going all-out to erase traded the state education for money and abused the catholic community. The sate though being zone may require Ohakim’s replacement if not Rochas Okorochas.The indegenes are determined to run the show with utmost sincerity, missionary zeal and unequivocal commitment. Its assumption of responsibility to rewrite the future of the eastern heartland that stood on the heap of misgovernance was a historical necessity.

The Imo indigenes repose faith in the state ruling party owing to the flagbearers dainted records.They consider it benevolent and a pathfinder to vote for a credible candidate and not a political party, the way they did with Jonathan. The Ohakim-regime has had to combat crosscutting political problems linked with the misgovernance that had bruised and battered public life inside Imo state. They were like the heroes in the folktales, as the golden men took position to strike at the monster symbolised by the blatant misgovernance.

It is only an INEC returning officer authorized by law to declare a failure of election if two conditions concur: (1) that no voting has taken place on the date fixed by law or even if there was, the election results in a failure to elect, and (2) the votes not cast would affect the result of the election.Ohakim is fighting a battle of his life. Who in his right mind would wish to go to jail after 4yrs as an arrogant governor? his cup was filled since by his numerous criminal accomplices and his own crimes. Owelle and imo people will probe and jail him for all the debts he accrued for the state while enriching south africa. we know where his next exile plans are.

Governor Ohakim never told his people that he plans to borrow N40 billion to procure taxis, to ‘clean’ Owerri and to partner NGO’s. He has, very cleverly sneaked this borrowing requirement in. In his welcome address during President Umaru Yar ‘Adua’s visit to Imo state on January 21, 2008, Ohakim told the president: “…Mr. President, when we came, we promised to bring happiness to our people.”

But the power to declare a failure of election in Imo State is so important that the electoral-law prescribes the care with which the INEC should exercise it. “The power to declare a failure of elections should be exercised with utmost care and only under circumstances which demonstrate beyond doubt that the disregard of the law has been so fundamental or so persistent and continuous that it is impossible to distinguish what votes are lawful and what are unlawful, or to arrive at any certain result whatsoever; or that the great body of voters have been prevented by violence, intimidation and threats from exercising their franchise. There is failure of elections only when the will of the electorate has been muted and cannot be ascertained. If the will of the people is determinable, the same must as far as possible be respected.”

The Supreme Court cases involving failure of election, however, have dealt only with failure in local elections. For that matter, the language of the Omnibus Electoral-law can be read as referring only to localized failure. In these nervous times, however, when people speak of failure of election, what they are talking about is failure of national elections,as seen in june 12, 1993 and, specifically, of failure to have a proclaimed President by noon of June 12. Talk about such situation is partly due to doubts about the novelty of the coming automated elections and partly due to distrust of the current administration. How does the law deal with such situation?when something like this happens in election,there is usually some kind of rigging about to take place or some kind of maneurvir,the INEC official has seen that the election wasn’t favoring ohakim that was the reason why it was termed inconclusive.They should better let the election to be free and fair so as not to cause problem in imo state.

A question I frequently hear these days is: What happens if there is failure of election in Imo State? Worse yet, I also hear described various scenarios that can happen should there be failure of election.

APGA candidate, Rochas Okorocha, but unscrupulous INEC officials helped him boost his votes in the Okigwe area.Despite that illegal intrusion, Mr. Ohakim still lost.An INEC official told SaharaReporters that but for pressures from the Goodluck Jonathan government which had helped prolong the crisis in Imo, INEC would have declared Rochas Okorocha winner by now as it was clear that Ohakim had lost.

Imo is of critical interest to Mr. Jonathan, who is a personal friend of Mr. Ohakim. Campaigning there on February 23, he told the people, “For us to succeed, we at the centre will work with you and we know that you will vote for Ohakim because I need him. I need to work with somebody like him to make sure that these good things will come to Imo State.”

Today, an INEC source told us that an election rerun would likely take place in one local government area—Ngor Mpala LGA—in order to finally conclude the Imo state logjam. An election they hope will legitimize results from Oguta LGA and Ohaji/Egbeema LGA.

Meanwhile, there is palpable tension in Owerri as citizens there await the outcome of INEC’s decision which is expected to follow the meeting in progress. If the issue is not resolved, a constitutional crisis will emerge, as it would mean that the Imo state election was not conducted or resolved 30 days before handing over on May 29 2011. That is a scenario that would help Jonathan take over the state and then fertilize the ground for the PDP to overcome the current resistance in the state.

The electoral-law, as a matter of fact, provides for various levels of failure of election. The causes, according to the law, can be “force majeure, violence, terrorism, fraud, or other analogous causes.” And the effect of these causes can be any one of various situations: (1) the election in any polling place has not been held on the date fixed, or (2) had been suspended before the hour fixed by law for the closing of the voting, or (3) after the voting and during the preparation and the transmission of the election returns or in the custody or canvass thereof, such election results in a failure to elect. And in any of such cases the failure or suspension of election would affect the result of the election.
There is, of course, an order of succession in the

Constitution for a situation when there is a vacancy at the beginning of the term of a Governor.

But after May 29, 2011; how long will it take for the Imo State governor’s vacancy to be resolved? The length or brevity of the waiting period will depend on the cause of the vacancy. In fact, whether the vacancy is terminable through constitutional procedure will also depend on what is causing it. The possible causes can be the same as those for local failure of election: “force majeure, violence, terrorism, fraud, or other analogous causes.” Let us just pray that no situation will arise which can usher in a state-of-emmergency in Imo State or even another People Power.

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1 comment

Igwe Anozie May 2, 2011 - 9:01 am

Let them allow the people to make choice. external interference undermines democracy.


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