SPEECH DELIVERED BY COMRADE HARRIS CHUMA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR INDEPENDENT MEDIA SUPPORT ORGANIZATION (IMSO)
TEXT OF THE SPEECH DELIVERED BY COMRADE HARRIS CHUMA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR INDEPENDENT MEDIA SUPPORT ORGANIZATION (IMSO) AT THE PRESS BRIEFING HELD ON NOVEMBER 8, 2017 AT NEW JERUSALEM INT'L HOTEL, AWKA, ANAMBRA STATE.
Good Day. Distinguished Gentlemen of the Press.
We welcome you to this press briefing, one in the series of interactions scheduled as we get set for the 2017 gubernatorial election in Anambra State. I must say it has been an interesting one so far, dogged by all shades of demeanours. While some political parties are contributing to the electoral discourse by highlighting steps that would enrich the state, selling their manifestoes to the electorate, others have chosen to remain in the past, feeling comfortable with their hopes in the 'sanctity of electoral fraud', as if Nigeria, has not left that pathway.
Surprising, however, is the seeming indifference of the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, once again, casting doubts on the level of 'independence' being ascribed to the body in this situation. By now, Nigeria should be making efforts to join the league of truly democratic nations in the world, where power belongs to the people, and not the members of the cabal who feel they can pull the strings at will to lord their wishes over the electorate.
They boast about their connections at the centre, telling the electorate about their might in the game of power and how they have no choice in determining who emerges as their leaders. Now this is a dangerous trend which must be avoided, especially in Anambra State, as we get set for the polls on November 18.
We at the Independent Media Support Organisation, IMSO, have been at the vanguard of calling for free and fair elections, not only in Anambra but in Nigeria in general. This is essentially because that is the right thing to do. That is the basis of good governance, and the tonic that attracts dignity and support for elected officials.
In the past couple of weeks, some disturbing reports about plans by the All Progressives Congress, APC to manipulate the electoral process in Anambra have been making the rounds, yet these reports have neither been investigated by the authorities nor denied by the party, laying credence to the reports. Aside reports of the arrest of some of their members with sensitive electoral materials which should only be in the custody of INEC, some of their party bigwigs have deployed resources to some communities to buy PVCs with the hope of disenfranchising voters in the stronghold of other parties and using same to conduct their secret polls. But this will fail woefully, because the people of Anambra have grown beyond this sham and are ready to demonstrate it on November 18.
The most worrisome aspect which seems to be the last in their chain of arsenal is the plan to militarise and intimidate the citizens of the state using state powers that will be monitored from Abuja. This is ugly and portends great danger considering the history of the state democratically. This evil plan to shave the heads of Anambra people with despotic bravado will only stimulate resistance from Ndi Anambra and could lead to break down of law and order.
A few weeks ago, there were reports of secret recruitment into a fake Army being conducted in IMO State, another state being governed by APC, where the vulnerability of the unemployed youths is being exploited with N300,000, so they can invade Anambra to intimidate voters and cart away ballot boxes.This may have worked in other places, but we in Anambra, out of the love for our state, shall resist such inglorious moves by both the fake and real Army being positioned for this. Desperation for power could indeed lead to lots of ignoble deeds, as being exemplified by the APC.
For instance, words also have it that the President's men in Abuja, who are working in concert with APC stalwarts in Anambra State are being wooed with promises that the popular Zik's Avenue in Awka will be renamed Buhari Avenue with a massive statue of the President built at the popular Eke Awka Roundabout to further launder the image of the President ahead of the 2019 elections. This can only elicit laughter in us. Trading off such legacies for manipulative electoral favours by leaders of APC in the state is quite unfortunate and highlights the deep hatred of these people for their Igbo brothers.
Meanwhile, we wish to commend the people of Anambra for the discipline they have exhibited so far and urge them to continue to do so, but must rise to make sure that their votes count in determing who governs them. Ndi Anambra must not only vote, but MUST protect their votes.
God bless Anambra!
God bless Nigeria!
Ogbuefi Comrade Harris Chuma
Executive Director, Independent Media Support Organization (IMSO)