YNaija visited Delta, Enugu & Ebonyi – and this is how they will be voting

by YNaija

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recently confirmed reports and rumours by postponing the general elections from February 14th and 28th, 2015 to March 28th and April 11th 2015.

It was the latest in a series of twists and turns as the electoral body confirmed that there are security challenges bedeviling what might very well turn out to be the closest polls in the history of Nigeria. The incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan who rode to power in 2011 on the back of public sympathy will contest against elder statesman, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.) who is running for the fourth time.

Accordingly, there have been quite a number of analyses about how Nigerians will vote across party lines and because of religious, political, geographical and business affiliations.

YNaija went to town to find out the election perception ratings of the gubernatorial and presidential candidates; what the man on the street really thinks.

In the first of the series, we visited Delta, Enugu and Ebonyi states.

Asaba

Largely a PDP state, Delta state has always played out according to a gentlemanly agreement. From 1999-2007, James Ibori an Urhobo from Delta Central senatorial district held sway with his deputy, Chief Benjamin Elue coming from Delta North. Ibori’s successor from 2007-2013 was an Itsekiri from Delta South, Emmanuel Uduaghan who had Amos Utuama from Delta Central as deputy. The PDP’s candidacy in 2015 follows a similar trend as bookmakers’ favourite,  Senator Ifeanyi Okowa an Igbo from Delta North is running with Mr. Kingsley Otuaro from Delta South.

Even though the Urhobos are the majority ethnic group in the state, the way the PDP’s structure is set up, it is hard to see the APC’s Otega Emerhor and serial contender, Great Ogboru of the Labour Party win the top seat. Similarly, the voting population in Asaba, the state capital seems united in voting the PDP at national level too.

Monday, a barber dismisses both candidates with a wave of the hand, especially Ogboru. “Leave Ogboru, he’s like Buhari. He only comes back to the state to contest elections and after that, he zooms out. I hear PDP at national level gave him N6bn to split Urhobo votes, very unserious man.”

His point of view is shared by Efosa, who came from Benin ‘to make it’ as an actor in the city that is arguably the new capital of Nollywood. “I’m not voting but if I do, PDP on every level mehn. Better to go with the devil I know…”

Abakaliki

“My son told me that on Facebook, people are saying Buhari will win”, laments Mr. Eloka, a hotel manager in Abakaliki. “All these small children don’t know what they are wishing for.”

“Is it not madness for Igbo people to organize rally for Buhari?” says a banker in one of the new generation banks as the APC South East Women’s Rally was being televised. His colleague counters sarcastically, “Is it not madness that you have a job in a bank presided over by a non-Igbo person? I am voting Buhari because we’ve suffered too much. I lost a cousin to Boko Haram and Buhari will use his military experience to stop the violence.”

It is a tall order for Buhari to put an end to the violence, muses Andrew who manages a restaurant beside the Women’s Development Center (WDC) so he will be voting in Jonathan to continue attempting to flush out the insurgency. “Buhari cannot just come and change everything overnight except he is the one sponsoring Boko Haram so let’s give Jonathan another chance.”

A graduate of the state university, he has been jobless for four years now and helps his mother run her restaurant. “Unemployment is not just Jonathan’s fault but he should focus on creating jobs too. This one that there are rumours of the election being shifted, you just know that rigging plans have to be perfected but God will save us.”

Enugu

The APC doesn’t seem rooted in the de facto capital of the South East and Prof. Yemi Osinbajo is far from popular here but the talk of the feisty Father Mbaka has seemingly swayed a number of votes, mostly of those in his congregation towards the opposition.

If all registered voters in the state are like Uchenna Ogochukwu who sells clothes at the ever-busy Ogbete Market are the same, then President Goodluck Jonathan will in all likelihood win by a landslide here.  “Who be Buhari?” he asks rhetorically. We are solidly behind President Jonathan and any Igbo man who does not vote for him has sold his birthright.”

Arinze Ifeanacho is a student at the Institute for Management Technology, Enugu. “This election shift if it goes through will be bad for our democracy. Jonathan don fall my hand. I will still vote him but I am terribly disappointed that the rule of law was tampered with.”

His friend Callistus Nwokedi who schools at Caritas University also in the state, is worried that his school calendar will be disrupted. “Many schools were supposed to have written exams but students were told on Friday to evacuate till March 6 that we can’t write exams till after the elections. Now see this.”

Stanley works at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu and is similarly aggrieved about the adjustments. “My brother’s children came back from North because of the elections and now they have to stay out of school till after Easter. This is not good”, he sighs, hanging his head to one side.

“I’m voting anyone but Jonathan. He tried small for us Igbo people but the suffering is too much”, he concludes on a note of finality. “Only God will save us.”

 

*P.S. The rest of this series will be published subsequently

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