How and why Ekwunife won
Nigerian politicians over the years have refused to accept the outcome of every election as the true reflection of the wishes of the masses especially when they are the losing end. Unfortunately, over the years, there have never been culture of embarking on aggressive, grassroots orientated and issue based campaigns by our politicians to convenience or confuses the electorate to vote for them.
Rather than embarking on issue based campaigns that would further open the hearts of the electorate to actually have choice of choosing from the pack, our politicians engage on non issue based campaigns and spend more time on self serving political campaigns which are not often taken by our people especially as our democracy is fast assuming an international standard.
In Anambra state to say the least, the issue of aggressive campaigns rooted at the local level had been forgotten by our politicians who see the elites as the basis for political success. They had for so many reasons forgotten that power actually resides with the masses and since we operate democracy, the majority of the masses can actually be found in the rural areas, at the grassroots, there may not be other alternative.
After the 28th March Presidential and National Assembly, there have been cries of foul as usual by those that lost, their reasons for the outcry is not far from the normal pains of failure in our democratic process. In the said election, three major political parties fielded very strong candidates especially in Anambra central senatorial zone which was regarded as one of the hottest zones in the country.
However, the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APAG, which is the ruling party in the state, fielded its National Chairman, Chief Victor Umeh. The All Progressives Congress, APC fielded another strong man in Anambra politics, Senator Chris Ngige, while the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP paraded an enigma in Nigerian politics, the new face of representative democracy and a woman that has touched many lives positively, Hon Mrs. Uche Lillian Ekwunife as the standard bearer.
These three gladiators went into the field, wielding different dangerous political weapons, struggling for the soul of Anambra central senatorial district. They engaged in the business of the moment which was to canvass for the support of Ndi Anambra central, trying to convince them on the reason they must vote for each and every one of them.
Of course, in every contest of such nature, only one person must be elected. One thing became very apparent to Ndi Anambra central while the campaigns were ongoing, that one of the candidates of the participating political party, Chief Victor Umeh instead of convincing the people of the zone on the reason he stood the best among all, shifted his campaign issues from the issues at the moment to attack the personality of other contestants.
Anybody that witnessed Chief Umeh' campaign during the electioneering campaign for the soul of Anambra central zone would agree with me that Umeh never ceased to attack personally of Senator Chris Ngige and Iyom Uche Ekwunife while the campaign lasted.
In so many occasions, he failed to establish direct contact with the people whom he planned to lead, strike a direct deal or promise with them on what and what they should hold him accountable for. Rather than striking such balance with the electorate, Chief Umeh continuously castigated Ngige and Ekwunife, telling the electorate why they should not vote for the duo.
He probably forgot the Ndi Anambra have aroused certain political consciousness in choosing their leader, irrespective of any campaign of calumny done against them by their opponents. For instance, in one of the campaign tours in Enugwu Ukwu, Njikoka council area of the state, Chief Umeh told the people of the community that thy should not vote for Iyom because she was not taking her husband to campaigns.
He was quoted thus “Iyom that is asking for your vote, have you ever asked her where her husband is, don't you see me going to campaigns even here with my darling wife? That alone further destroyed the already battered image of the long red cap politician as the next day was the judgment day for him.
Ekwunife while on campaign in the same place told the women and indeed the people of the community that her husband is not a politician and is not a toy that should be carried along in every campaign. That singular defense from Iyom further threw Umeh into another problem when Ekwunife said “Umeh has been telling you where my husband is? My husband is not a politician. He is a very busy gentleman but here Umeh is telling you…it is only Chief Victor Umeh's wife that is still answering (Oriaku) because she doesn't have any job, because she is a total house wife and today, nobody allows herself to be confided as total housewife”
As I watched the women jubilate, I quickly knew it was all over for Chief Victor Umeh in Enugwu Ukwu, a community he held hostage on the ground that he made one of their sons a Deputy Governor.
Then apart from Enugwu Ukwu debacle, Umeh received another baptism of fire when he went to Agulu Town hall alongside Governor Willie Obiano and started castigating the former Governor Peter Obi who incidentally is the son of the soil. Of course after his abusive words against Obi, there came heavy rain of stones and for safety did Umeh and Obiano scampered as the angry youths of the community in a commando style attacked them.
Then, it was again obvious that Chief Victor Umeh was heading to the rock. Few days after the Agulu rain of stone, Mrs. Ucke Ekwunife who has represented Anaocha/Dunukofia/Njikoka federal constituency with Aguluzigbo, Victor Umeh's community inclusive was received and honoured by Aguluzigbo community for her developmental projects which includes but not limited to construction of road even the road leading to Chief Umeh's house. During the reception in honour of Ekwunife, the leadership of the community including the Cabinet Chiefs and President General gave Iyom a very unusual gift of a big ram adorned with a very long red cap. The symbol of the red cap was only synonymous with Chief Victor Umeh.
As I watched Ekwunife took the ram with the red cap, I also knew the clock was already ticking for his exit from politics. If not for any other thing, the roads and other developmental projects Ekwunife did in Aguluzigbo was enough to earn her all the votes from the community, however, in the spirit of brotherhood, Chief Umeh and APGA were able to clinch a very handful of votes from his own community.
It was a very clear issue that while Umeh was busy castigating Ekwunife and Ngige, insulting them and making unnecessary derogatory statements against their families that Ekwunife was busy campaigning. During the campaign, she had one thing in mind; she quickly and smartly knew that the mandate was with the people and the women in particular, she never lost sight of the women. She took the campaigns to the doorsteps of the women in the zone, arousing their consciousness and weeping a common sentiment of women marginalization in Nigerian politics especially in the zone which has never been represented by a woman.
Her sentiments and emotions swayed the women. In fact, in one of the campaigns in Ogidi, Idemili North council area of the state, the women were already in killer mood. They were already in the mood to get all obstacles to their ascension off the way. Few days after, they trooped out emnass and voted Chief Victor Umeh and Senator Chris Ngige out of office, their reasons were that even if for nothing, let a fellow woman be there.
Ekwunife on her own side had harped on the gains of electing her as their senator, saying that she would use her connection as a woman who knows their needs to get things done better for the women.
At St Silas Anglican Church, Enekwasumpu, Ekwunife and Senator Ngige clashed during mothers' day. During the period, the women never hid their love for a fellow woman who after addressing them, they went into wild jubilation that the Priest in charge hard many minutes to battle to be able to bring silence back to the church. Then even Ngige knew the clock was ticking and never at any point in time attacked Mrs. Ekwunife.
As they hugged, many people especially the congregation were bewildered especially when they had believed there was no love lost between them. Few days after the church service, both Ngige and Ekwunife met again in Awka at All Saints Anglican Church. As a matter of fact, Ngige was already addressing the congregation when Ekwunife arrived the church; our respected Ngige paused and introduced Ekwunife as she walked majestically to take her seat.
Ngige told the church that Mrs. Ekwunife has done very well at the lower chambers of the National Assembly and jokingly said “Iyom has done very well at the House of Representatives, but she has gone there twice, she should allow me to go back to senate for the second term after that, she can contest because I know she can do well”
The whole church went up in loud laughter. Ekwunife was calm and Ngige finished his account of stewardship to the people before she came to the podium. Within a few minutes she was introduced, the roof of the church almost got off in wild jubilation from the congregation. She told them what she had done in her little capacity as Member of House of Representatives and told them what they should hold her accountable for if they vote for her. It was a promise that was clearly sunk into the minds of the people of Awka which was demonstrated by their massive votes on the 28th March, 2015 National Assembly. Let me conclude by saying that Mrs. Uche Ekwunife's emergence as Senator elect for Anambra Central senatorial zone was a no magic, it was not a miracle, it was a very conscious demonstration by a people that have been yearning for quality and proper representation which they found in Ekwunife, they couldn't have found these in another man. Not Victor Umeh. Ends
….Gattuso Uzor writes for Awka, Anambra state.