Magnus Eze, Enugu
Anambra is no doubt one of the leading states in Nigeria especially when development indices are concerned. The state tops the chart in areas of education and manpower development and has produced many men and women that have made Nigeria proud in different areas of endeavour.
Legends like Nigeria’s first ceremonial President, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, former Vice President, Alex Ekwueme, literary giant, Prof. Chinua Achebe, renowned mathematician, Prof. Chike Obi and of late; Prof. Dora Akunyili among many others, all hailed from Anambra. The state boasts of innumerable manpower in any field of endeavour one can imagine.
Even in the areas of commerce and industry, the people of Anambra have so far distinguished themselves. In fact, the people are politically enlightened to the point that they could confront moneybags and reduce them to naught during elections.
With this, Anambra people could always determine their leaders, especially since the demystification of godfatherism by Dr. Chris Ngige after his momentary kidnap as governor.
Fortunately, such progressive culture has seemingly crept into Imo, another South East state as evidenced in the trouncing of Governor Ikedi Ohakim when he sought re-election in 2011 and the recent governorship election where Emeka Ihedioha emerged victorious despite desperate attempt by the incumbent governor, Rochas Okorocha to foist his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu on Imo people.
The foregoing, somewhat showed that the people of Anambra and Imo states have some form of political maturity to the extent that they could determine who governs them. For Anambra in particular, political fireworks appear to have begun in the state more than two years to the governorship election where a successor would be elected to take Chief Willie Obiano’s seat.
National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Victor Oye, stoked the fire recently, when he announced that the zoning system as introduced by the former governor, Peter Obi, during his tenure for governorship election in the state will be adhered to in the next governorship election.
According to Oye, equity demands that the next governor of Anambra State in 2022 will come from Anambra South Senatorial District.
“Obi insisted that the governor; the next that would succeed him should come from the north district, and now that north has done five years, we have just three years to go, and it is very likely it will go to the south,” he said, noting that when the governorship seat has gone round all zones, then it can start again from where it started.
“Everything about the future is in the hands of God, but as a political party, I would like it to go to the south district for equity sake,” Oye said.
The APGA National Chairman’s remark was immediately countered by Obi who said that he neither introduced nor contemplated introducing zoning in the governorship election of the state.
Media aide to the Vice Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the last presidential election, Valentine Obienyem, acknowledged that Obi was the person who insisted that the governorship should go to Anambra North against even the position of his party (APGA) at the time.
According to him, it was more of Obi, “in the spirit of justice and equity insisting that the governorship candidate should go to Anambra North since they were at that time, the only zone yet to produce a governor.”
Obienyem said that it was more of Obi trying to achieve balance of representation to avoid what was clearly unjust, which was capable of snowballing into crisis for the state.
“Obi’s position was equitable and not to be confused with entrenchment of rotation in Anambra’s Charter of Equity or whatever it is. If at any time the state wants rotation or any form of political arrangement, it would not be the imposition of one man,” he said.
Since its creation in 1991, Anambra State has had six civilian governors, namely: Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife (South), Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju (South), Dr. Chris Ngige (Central), Mr. Peter Obi (Central) and Chief Willie Obiano (North). During the interregnum when Obi was impeached by the House of Assembly on November 2, 2006, his deputy, Lady Virginia Etiaba (South) emerged the governor and held forth for three months.
Proponents of zoning argue that it would be an opportunity for the southern zone which produced Mbadinuju (1999-2003) to do second tenure and by implication complete the zone’s eight years, for the purpose of equity.
But, those on the other side believe that the state yearns for a credible and effective leader who can secure its residents as well as build and maintain infrastructure, not minding where he is from.
A former lawmaker from the state who preferred to be anonymous did not agree more as according to him, “they want somebody who can transform beyond propaganda their economic well-being; the person who will be accepted by Catholics, Anglicans and other denominations.”
The PDP chieftain also said that the purported zoning arrangement was a creation of APGA, and has nothing to do with his party.
He said: “the issue of zoning is still an APGA thing; whether under Obi or his successor, Obiano. I know that our party has not zoned anything yet”.
Daily Sun investigations revealed that the issue of zoning is again gradually creeping into the political discourse of the state, especially among the political elite, who always use it to achieve self-seeking political interest.
It was gathered that many political stakeholders in the state, like the former governor, hold the view that zoning discourse had outlived its usefulness in the state’s governorship, because each zone has at different times, produced governors in the state.
Their argument is that what matters in the next governorship election is the credibility of the candidate; they insist that the state needs somebody who can deliver on good governance. The currency there is that the state has far outgrown the era of politics of settlement and stomach; and is instead open to embrace any qualified persons that are ready to champion development irrespective of where they hail from.
The foregoing has somewhat been confirmed by the result of a recent survey conducted by a Non-Governmental Organisation; Media Awareness and Development Advocacy Forum (MADAF) which sought to dig up what the people consider more important: zoning or credibility – in their choice of the next governor of the state.
The research question was “What will inform your choice when casting your vote for the next governor of Anambra State – is it zoning or the capacity of the candidate to deliver on good governance?”
According to the pollsters, the method for data gathering was purely based on “sampling”, asking some selected people in the state to respond to the questions. In all 1, 211 people across the state were interviewed by our researchers. The population of the research included professionals, students, market men/women, artisans, commercial motorcycle operators (Okada), local traders and others across different age groups and sexes in the three Senatorial Districts of the state: Anambra North (370), Anambra Central (411) and Anambra South (430). The population consisted of 634 males and 577 females.
The result showed that 175 persons said that zoning was very important (Anambra South to produce the next governor); 234 people voted for zoning (the turn of Anambra South) but with capacity to deliver while714 opted for credibility and capacity to deliver on good governance. It further showed that 81 persons were indifferent.
“From our findings, it is obvious that the faulty narrative by some political actors, especially those from Anambra South on zoning, is insignificant and not popular among the electorate. The narrative is an elitist’s agenda – aimed mainly at power grab. Majority of the citizens and the electorate are looking up to credible candidates in the governorship election – with capacity to deliver on good governance: address the issues of insecurity, unemployment among the youth, huge poverty, growing deficit of infrastructure and other socio-political and economic challenges in the state.
“The citizens’ swelling disenchantment with the present state government over its failure or refusal to deliver on campaign promises became also very pronounced during our research. Therefore, any candidate the government supports will be very unpopular among the voters,” the survey stated.
Meanwhile, several politicians from the state when contacted were not willing to speak on the issue, apparently because as they said, the election is still far away.
Regardless, the state Chairman of PDP, Chief Ndubuisi Nwobu said that his party has not given thought to whether to zone its governorship ticket or not, as according to him, “anything is possible, but the party leaders would sit to take a decision on the issue when the time comes. So, we expect that working assiduously and sustaining the unity that exists within the party and then, we do our primaries right which we expect we should be able to do well, and come up with the candidate that is formidable, I have no doubt that PDP will win the governorship election in Anambra State come 2021/2022”.