AWKA, Nigeria (Reuters) – The incumbent governor of Nigeria’s southeastern Anambra state was on Sunday declared the winner of an election which voters, candidates and observers said had been marred by widespread irregularities.
ELECTORAL REFORM NEEDED
Ngige rejected the result, while Soludo described it as a charade marred by “brazen manipulation.” But he accepted defeat.
“Let me use this opportunity to congratulate my friend Mr Peter Obi. In spite of the grave flaws, INEC has declared you winner of the election. The fight is not about us but about the future of Anambra state. You will have my support,” Soludo said.
Anambra has a history of political violence. There were a few reports of isolated scuffles but the elections passed without any major unrest.
Some checkpoints jointly manned by police and soldiers were withdrawn from the streets on Sunday and the state capital Awka and commercial hub Onitsha were calm, with many people in church, apparently relieved that there had been no violence.
“It is to the great credit of the people here that the election was run peacefully yesterday. However, our visits to polling stations at a number of locations suggest that there were irregularities,” British Deputy High Commissioner Richard Powell told Reuters.
“At some stations there was late arrival of materials, some of the (electoral) registers appeared to be incomplete. I would say a lot of work would need to be done if next year’s election were to run smoothly and I hope that the Nigerian authorities would address this as a matter of urgency,” he said.
President Yar’Adua — who has been in hospital in Saudi Arabia for more than two months — pledged to reform the electoral system after the chaotic 2007 polls, but reform bills he sent to parliament have yet to be passed into law.
Vice President Goodluck Jonathan nonetheless praised the conduct of the Anambra polls, saying “this was an indication that the electoral reforms of the present administration were beginning to have an effect on the nation’s political culture.”