2020 Anambra FA Elections and Legal Issues About One-Man Candidacy

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By Chimezie Anaso, News

On Friday, Oct. 30, 2020, the Anambra State Football Association (FA) Electoral Committee conducted elections into the nine seats available on the board to replace the Ifeanyi Ubah-led board which statutorily elapsed on Aug. 2.

Only a total of four positions were successfully filled, including the Vice -Chairman’s position and three members either because there were no nominees for other positions or those who obtained forms did not pass the screening.

The position of the chairman was contested by one candidate, Chikelue Iloenyosi, but he was not returned winner because he was only able to secure one “Yes’’ voice vote against 19 “No’’ from a total of 20 votes cast in that election.

The candidature of Emeke Okeke, who would have contested the Chairmanship position with Iloenyosi was officially announced voided by the Appeals Committee at the election ground.

Rev. Fr. Coach Obinna Dike, Chairman of the electoral committee, said Iloenyosi could not secure a simple majority of total votes cast and therefore could not be returned as elected.

According to Article E of Anambra FA 2020 Electoral Guidelines, a candidate shall be deemed to have won a particular position by securing a simple majority of total valid votes cast.

Subsection (a)(b) went ahead to state that “the elections shall be by secret ballots system and only the results announced by the chairman of the electoral committee is authentic”.

The electoral committee said the guidelines were made pursuant to Anambra FA Statute and electoral guidelines of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

Iloenyosi said he did not accept the outcome of the election and would appeal the process.

The 2020 FA election wherein one candidate stood for election and lost has legal debate as to whether a sole candidate is the same as an unopposed candidate and whether sole candidacy confers automatic victory for such a person in an election.

According to Wikipedia, an “Uncontested Election” is an election in which the number of candidates is the same or less than the number of places available for election, so that all candidates are guaranteed to be elected.

“An uncontested single-winner election is one where there is only one candidate, in some uncontested elections, the normal process, of voters casting ballots and election official counting votes, is cancelled as superfluous and costly; in other cases the election proceeds as a formality

“There are some election systems where absence of opposing candidates may not guarantee victory; possible factors are a quorum or minimum voter turnout; and none of the above option.

“In the Philippines, the sole candidate in an uncontested election must have at least one vote in order to win the seat”.

Some senior lawyers have lent their voices to the status of a sole candidate in an election.

George Igbokwe (SAN), said what was necessary was that the person who emerged candidate met all the conditions to stand for the election.

Igbokwe said though the electoral guideline in the association in question was important, it was a universal electoral rule that sole candidates are automatic winners because there was no opponent.

“According to the electoral act, if at the close if nomination only one person emerges candidate, it is unopposed, there is no need to go for an election.

“It is not legally right to make him stand for voting because he has no opponent but it is also important to know what the guideline says but even at that, it is still not legally correct,” he said.

On his part, Okoli Akirika, a constitutional lawyer, said it was possible for one man to stand for an election and still lose the contest.

Akirika said there was no general rule for elections as the association was at liberty to set benchmarks for electing their officers.

“It depends on the election in question and the rules guiding the election.

“In election matters, there are no general rules, it depends on the applicable rules in the Football Association.

“In some cases, just one vote returns the candidate, in others, they may say he must score a minimum ratios, say half, one-third or two-third of valid votes cast.

“So, the fact the you are the only candidate in an election does not confer on you automatic victory,” he said.

In his argument, Chinedu Agbodike, also a lawyer said that in an election where there were no options, any vote not cast in favour of the only candidate is either void or absent.

Agbodike, who is chairman of Nigeria Bar Association, Orlu Branch, said no electoral guideline permits voting for nobody, adding that voting against a lone candidate amounted to a nullity.

“Legally speaking, any vote that is not counted in favour of anybody standing election is a void vote.

“For instance, if parties A and B are fielding candidates in an election and an electorate chose to vote for party C which has no candidate in the same election, legally and technically, the votes for C are wasted votes.

“On the issue at hand, those people who voted against the sole candidate but voted for nobody are deemed not to have participated in the election, in that wise, only one valid vote was cast in that election,” he said.

Uchechukwugaeme Okafor, a social commentator said the electoral committee could be right afterall.

According to him, it depends on the rules guiding the election. If there are specified/specific conditions stating that there must be an election for a winner to emerge (even if it a one-man outing) and number of minimum votes to get thereof, such rules/conditions must prevail.

Emmanuel Obe, a veteran journalist, said that in every election, the opinion of the people mattered and that it was undemocratic for those who were not voted for to find themselves in elective offices.

It is called election, the essence is the involvement of the people in choosing their representative or leader.

“So they should vote, and voting can be for a sole candidate or against him.

“The Nigerian law governing party primaries got its principles from this philosophy. It’s against adoption of candidates,” he said.

However, football enthusiasts in Anambra have wondered how Iloenyosi, who played the game at the professional levels and is close to the NFF could not muster the minimum support as stipulated by the organisers to win the election even when he had no opponent.

Some said he was not connected to the grassroots.

A football buff, Jude Obiora, said it was wrong for him to have relied solely on his petition without reaching out to the delegates to solicit their support.

Obiora says it is not a common practice for people to cast their vote for who they don’t really know or who doesn’t ask for it.

Another enthusiast who simply wished to be identified as Tony, faulted the disqualification of Okeke as it would have presented the delegates with the opportunity of chosing from two fresh, robust and experienced candidates.

It said the Appeals Committee robbed the process of it’s competitiveness being that Anambra FA had not had election in the real sense of the word for a long time.

According to him, in every rule there is an exception.

“They should have just allowed the two candidates to go to the polls and the people choose, that would have given us a conclusive process and bring an end to all this process.

“Anambra FA has not had anything like this, it has always been a group of people gathering to ordain one man, it is sad that we lost the opportunity of deciding from two options,” he said.

While the Anambra football community awaits NFF’s interpretation and decision of the election, some of the questions on the lips of many include how soon will election be held to fill the vacant positions of the chairman and other four members?

Who will be the chairmanship candidates in the bye-election? Is it going to be a whole new process which would accommodate new aspirants, including those who participated in the previous one?

For a nine-man which only has only four seats filled without a chairman, is it correct to say that Anambra FA has an executive board in place?

Whichever way it turns out, one significant difference between this election and others before it is that the cabal that dominated the Anambra FA for about two decades has been dismantled.

So far, all the four seats filled, including that of the vice-chairman position are occupied by new members.

These are occupied by Ralph-Chidozie George, an ace broadcaster, Oliver Ndigwe, an ex-junior international, Cordelia Akanna, all members and Victor Aniekwena who was elected vice-chairman. (NANFeatures)

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