Former Deputy Zonal Chairman, South, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra State, Chukwuma Ezeafulukwe in this interview, speaks on the contentious issue of zoning ahead of November governorship election in the state(Anambra).
You were once a Vice Zonal Chairman and also deputy chairman for Aguata in Anambra South and I have heard you speak out against the demand to zone the governorship ticket to your zone. Why are you against your people?
Sorry, I may have to correct you here. I am not against my people because my people have never made any such demand. The demand was made by some political godfathers who are scared that their stranglehold on the party has been broken. They have seen the new thinking in the party and are now fighting back hoping that they will still grab, pocket and trade the PDP like they had done in the past 16 years. So, my people are not making any such demand because they understand the development of Anambra is not predicated on the zone the governor comes from. It is therefore a misnomer to say that the campaign of a few retiring godfathers, whose times have passed, is the demand of the entire people of Anambra South. I am from Anambra South and I have never made any such demand. There are plenty Anambra South sons and daughters who are also not making any such demand because they have come to understand why the issue was even raised in the first place. It was simply a campaign to advance some selfish interests. Such interest has never been good for the generality of the Anambra people.
When you say that zoning is not the demand of the generality of Anambra South people, do you suggest that Anambra people never agreed on zoning?
Never! If anybody says that we, the people of Anambra, from Anambra North, Anambra Central and Anambra South agreed to zone the office of governor, I will invite the person to come forward and present before Nigerians with documentary evidences on where, when, how zoning was agreed on. He or she should give us the list of delegates to the meeting or conference where it was agreed on. I challenge Anambra people to shut me up with such a document. I bet my balls that no one will come forward because no such document exists. Look, I became deputy chairman of Aguata local government 17 years ago. I was quite young then and that is why I am called Ochinanwata. I was also deputy zonal chairman of the PDP for Anambra South. So, I am strategically placed to know if any such meeting ever held and if ever any such decision was taken at any pace within the boundaries of Anambra. So, we shouldn’t be extrapolating the selfish demand of some failed politicians who are scared of retirement as the position of the generality of the people.
So, how did this zoning thing loiter into Anambra political lexicon?
It is credited to Peter Obi. But the same Obi had told the world and he has not denied it, that he only exercised his powers as leader of APGA, as he was then, to decide to swing the governorship pendulum to Anambra North. He never told anyone that Anambra has agreed to zone the office to any region or that he was institutionalizing zoning in Anambra. He only took a decision for the good of APGA because the Anambra North people were vehemently asking for the office as a mark of equity since the office has been through Anambra Central, and also, as a bargain for them to vote him for a second term. Therefore, it is illogical to extrapolate the internal arrangement of APGA as the decision of the generality of Anambra people. Doing that is suggesting that the other political parties in Anambra have no say in the internal workings of their platforms unless APGA decides for them. If that be the case, then, all the political parties in Anambra should as well elect their officials from the same villages where APGA picked theirs. We should as well ask that the PDP should pick its national chairman from the same village as Victor Oye and that APC should come down to Oye’s town to pick a national chairman too. That is the implication of extrapolating the internal decision of a party, taken for its own good, to be seen as a general decision of the people. That is irrational.
From your experience thus far, has there been any election since APGA took the decision, which was solely contested for by candidates from only one zone?
None at all! That even makes it disingenuous for anyone to sit back and suggest that every political party should zone their governorship ticket to Anambra South. The governorship ticket of political parties is not a family right. Even when Peter Obi took the decision and went to Anambra South to fish out Willie Obiano, Uche Ekwunife, incumbent senator representing Anambra Central, contested the primary election in AGPA against Obiano. You know memories can be very short. She contested against Obiano and as at the time, she contested the ticket not as someone from Anambra North but from Anambra Central. You recall that even in the election proper, Ifeanyi Ubah, who is from Anambra South contested on the bill of Labour Party and came fourth while Tony Nwoye from Anambra North contested on the ticket of PDP and came second. You remember also that Chris Ngige contested that election and came third. Ngige is from Anambra Central. Godwin Ezeemo also from Anambra South contested that election. He came a distant sixth. That was even in the year that Obi decided to swing the governorship to the north. So, the issue is, if those who are screaming zoning today are honest and sincere to themselves, why did they not insist that only candidates from only a particular zone be allowed to contest the 2013, 2017 and 2019 election? When next they come to you with the zoning thing, ask them this question.