Tony Okafor, Awka
No fewer than 20 state governors are afraid of losing grips of their states in the Saturday elections to the emerging nationwide force, called Obiedent moment.
As a consequence, the governors of such states will spend not less than N50billion to avert the situation.
A rights group, International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) , disclosed this in a statement circulated to journalists on Tuesday in Awka, the Anambra State capital, through its board of trustees chairman, Emeka Umeagbalasi.
Umeagbalasi who predicted that the win- at-cost attitudes of the governors in the circumstances would cause violence in such states, said the Anambra State governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo had a projected spending of N2.5bn while Lagos, Rivers and Delta would spend more.
The group’s statement was titled, “Tsunamic Obidient Ballot Effects Panic 20 State Govs And Force Them Into Squandering N50B Public Funds In Vote-Buying So As To Install Their Puppets As Next Govs And State Lawmakers.”
In the February 25 National Assembly polls, the Labour Party that was somewhat the parent body of the OBIdient movement which fielded a former governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi in the presidential race, threw up some upsets and surprises in the political landscape of the country where political bigwigs were retired by mere upstarts.
Intersociety in the Tuesday press statement named the states under the OBIdient fever to include: Anambra, Abia, Imo, Ebonyi, Enugu, Delta, Rivers, Cross River, Bayelsa, Edo, Akwa Ibom, Nasarawa, Plateau, Taraba, Kaduna, Lagos, Ogun, Ekiti, Oyo, Kogi.
The group’s statement read in part, “From fresh findings and facts at our disposal, panics, fears and desperations have gripped the camps of the named 20 Govs and their Governments for possibility of them losing gubernatorial incumbencies and majority in the State Assemblies; with imaginary impeachment threats.
” Fears by the named 20 State Govs and their Governments also stem from their desperation to install puppets and loyalist lawmakers in their State Assemblies who will be doing their biddings and covering their dirty dealings whenever called upon.
“Intersociety has therefore investigated and found that there is likelihood of N50b state funds to be wastefully spent by the 20 Govs for purposes of cash or material vote-buying, voter suppression and coercive and intimidating measures in this Saturday, Mach 18, 2023 Governorship and State Assembly Polls.
“The polls are also projected to be violence threatening with high possibility of votes of the electorate not going to be counted. That is to say that not only that voter suppression and collation center result fixing that characterized the Feb 25 Presidential and National Assembly will be repeated in the March 18 Governorship and State Assembly Polls in the affected 20 States but the Polls are also most likely to witness violence and widespread cash or material vote-buying.
“Violence is likely to be witnessed in Enugu (dichotomy violence), Rivers (State sponsored violence), Delta, Ebonyi (Ebubeagu and thuggery violence), Abia, Benue (inter party and federally sponsored religious violence), Lagos (state state actor sponsored group violence), Kaduna (State sponsored inter ethno-religious violence) and Anambra (State sponsored political thuggery violence), etc..
The group added, “From our findings, not less than N50b belonging to taxpayers of the above named 20 States are most likely to be wasted or squandered, out of which each of the 20 States is projected to engage in at least N2b wasteful spending.
“Anambra State is projected with N2bn-N2.5bn lavish spending while the three higher spending States are Lagos (projected with N10bn spending), Rivers (projected with N6bn-N10bn spending) and Delta (projected with N5bn-N6bn spending).
“Each of the remaining 16 States is most likely to wastefully spend at least N2bn. The beneficiaries of the wasteful States’ spending sprees include traditional rulers and chairs of town unions, religious leaders and market and transportation leaders (where necessary). These recipients will be captured under “mobilization of voters’ logistics.
“Other key beneficiaries are State Assembly candidates of the Govs’ political parties (cash or material vote-buying and logistics supports), “elected” or appointed Local Government Transition Committee Chairmen or Chairpersons (for ‘INEC LGA admin heads and SPOs, POs and APOs’ and cash or material vote-buying supports’).
“Also involved are collectively and individually compromised security agents especially police and military personnel as well as conformist INEC’s substantive and ad hoc top officials such as conformist National Commissioners, RECs and Collation Officers in Charge.
“As at Thursday, 9th and Friday, 10th March 2023, over N1.2b was reported to have been lavishly spent and disbursed from the State coffers and according to reliable information obtained, the whopping State funds were disbursed to “each of the 30 State ruling Party’s House of Assembly Candidates who received N20m, totaling N600m (for logistics supports such as cash sums for cash vote-buying or procurement of food or personal items like cartons of Indomie, wrappers (abada clothes), small bags of rice, packs of tin tomatoes, tins of red and groundnut oils, etc for material vote-buying).
“Each of the 21 Local Government Caretaker Committee Chairmen,( in Anambra,) also reportedly received N30m, totaling N630m (for ‘mobilization supports’ including for sorting electoral officers such as SPOs, POs and APOs and INEC LGA admin officers). The LGAs Caretakers were also reportedly directed to use part of the N30m for electronic money transfer vote-buying using the likes of ‘O’Pay mobile banking, etc, for speedy and comfort deliveries.
“Others reported to have been listed to benefit from the second batch of the State funds (yet to be released and disbursed as at Wednesday, 15th March 2023) are conformist security operatives (police, army and navy personnel), traditional rulers/PGs and some influential market leaders and INEC top officials.
“The second batch, expected in multiple hundreds of millions of naira, is likely to hit the ground before end of Friday, 17th March 2023. In all, Anambra State Government is expected to wastefully spend from the State coffers N2.5b between 9th and 19th March 2023 for purposes of pre Election Day, Election Day and post Election Day Project of securing many, if not most of the 30 State Assembly seats by all means legitimately and illegitimately possible or achievable.
“We call on the above named anti graft agencies to place the named 20 States under their watch-list and dispassionately do that justly required of them by law. The security agencies must resist being compromised and pocketed by the panicking and desperate govs. The violence prone flashpoints highlighted in this statement must be nipped in the bud with adequate and proactive security arrangements.
“The Osun State-born “troublesome Lagosians” must be strongly warned to leave Eastern residents in Lagos State alone and allow them to cast their votes and vote candidates of their choice freely and willingly.”