Valuable Lessons From The Anambra Polls (Part 2)

By Ikenga Chronicles November 26, 2017

— Onyebuchi Ememanka


One clear fact is that an election that involves an incumbent is not just a mere election. It is more appropriately a referendum on the performance of the incumbent. It is a time to pass judgment on the man who currently holds the office and see if he is deserving of a second chance. It is different where all the candidates are first timers. This must be well noted.

Indeed, most people prefer continuity of a government except in the unlikely situation where there is gross underperformance by the incumbent and/or widespread apathy or outright rejection by a majority of the people. A good example of this is what happened in Imo State in 2011 when it was obvious that then Governor Ikedi Ohakim had lost it. Nothing could have saved him in that election. That was the election that brought Governor Rochas Okorocha. Rochas, in my view, was the direct recipient of the mass rejection of Ohakim. Rochas won, more because of the rejection of Ohakim, rather by his own merits. This is my view.

READ ALSO: Valuable Lessons From The Anambra Polls

When an incumbent is running, people generally want to know if he has improved on what he inherited and has shown signs that the next four years will witness a consolidation of his work. Voters check if the state has deteriorated from what it was when he came in and not if he has turned the state into an Eldorado of some sorts. People know that it’s better to allow a leader who has performed somehow to continue than allow a new person to start all over again.

It’s even easier when the incumbent has on going projects that will impact on the economy of the people. They will prefer he stays to complete these projects than allow a new man who may jettison them and start fresh ones.
This was what happened in Anambra.

Voters in Anambra knew that Obiano inherited a strong and robust state. They knew Obi left billions of Naira for Obiano as well as a solid road network across the state. Obiano didn’t inherit a kobo in salary and pension liabilities. So they expected him to consolidate on that and move into areas that touch on macroeconomic conditions.

The main question before the voters was whether Anambra has deteriorated under Obiano. Has the state moved from zero salary arrears to a state that owes salaries? Has he added any new roads to the ones he inherited? Is the state safe or has security deteriorated?

They were not interested in the sour relations between him and Peter Obi.

To my mind, Obiano has sustained the tempo of development in Anambra and the voters felt it was better to allow him a new tenure to consolidate on his performances. They felt it was safer to allow him finish his job that to bring a new person who would start all over again.

They knew the other candidates were good but they felt it was better not to change a winning team.
When Obi was running for a second term, he had tough opponents like Soludo but the people saw that Obi had shown clear signs of good governance and decided to reelect him. They knew Soludo was sound but they wanted to allow Obi continue what he started.

Defeating an incumbent is not very easy. He is in office and working even as the elections are on. He has built a network of associates and grassroots support. So, except where he has failed woefully in most indices of economic growth, he is most likely to be returned.

One other factor that works for incumbents is power shift. People feel it is safer for the unity of the state to allow the incumbent to complete his tenure so that power could shift from his zone to another zone rather than bringing in a new person who will upset the power rotation arrangement.

So voters in Anambra did what was most expedient in the circumstances and allowed Obiano to continue.
Lesson- An incumbent that has done some tangible work and shows signs of doing better will always be reelected.


Tony Nwoye is like a rolling stone that gathers no moss. In the last elections, he ran for Governor under the PDP and in this last one now, he ran under the APC. People are usually not very comfortable with inconsistent people. When you run from one place to another, it’s hard for people to trust you with leadership. This is moreso when the reason why you ran off is because you didn’t get the party ticket. So if you eventually become elected and you face challenges, will you also run?

This is one of the reasons why Peter Obi appears to have lost his mojo. A lot of people preferred him to remain in APGA and help build the party into a formidable regional force. Peter Obi was looked upon as our next Tinubu who resisted all pressures to dump his party then even when he was the only man standing. Tinubu stayed strong and built the party into what it is today.

People respect those who don’t run away from problems but rather stay and see how they can help solve them. By dumping APGA, the platform he used to govern Anambra, people got disappointed in Peter Obi but still respect his strength in governance.

Tony Nwoye’s penchant to run from party to party did him in. Apart from this inconsistency, Nwoye lacks charisma and looks rather drab and colorless. He didn’t have that glitz, that razzmatazz that makes politics exciting.

One thing that surprised me was the fact that while he is addressed as Dr. Tony Nwoye, when he filled his INEC forms, what he submitted was a WAEC certificate. I am not aware that he has received any honorary degree from any university. So where is Dr from?

And of course, it is an open secret that the APC is not very popular in the South East. Whether rightly or wrongly, the people of the South East don’t feel comfortable with the APC as a party. This is true.

It is immaterial that Nwoye came second in the election. It was a very very distant second. The margin between him and Obiano speaks volumes.

Lesson- It’s better to remain in one place and be known for helping to resolve challenges instead of jumping from one place to another.


Every election must have individuals that provide comic relief. Yul Edochie played that role perfectly. He was the quintessential WAKA PASS candidate.

Lesson – It pays to be a fine boy.


To be concluded with one more post where I shall do a general review of the elections.

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