Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Emeka Umeagbasi, Civil Rights Activist and Criminologist is the Board Chair of International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, INTERSOCIETY.
From Ezinifite, Aguata local government Area, Anambra State, Umeagbalasi in this interview says that equity favours the Southern zone to produce the next governor of the state. He also stated that there is religious politics in the state and for that reason, Catholics should give way for other denominations to take the governorship slot.
Can you give a background view of Anmabra politics since the nation’s return to civilian rule in 1999?
Anambra State created in August 1991 with 21 LGAs, is one of the 36 component units or states (plus the Federal Capital Territory) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The state, among others, embraced the return to civil rule in late May 1999 and had been governed legally and constitutionally since then as well as by ‘doctrine of necessity’ for purposes of avoiding anarchic leadership vacuum.
With a four year tenure, renewable once, if re-elected, the state was governed for four years (29th May, 1999-29th May, 2003) by Dr. C.C Mbadinuju from Ihiala zone of the Anambra South; nearly three years (29th May, 2003-17th March 2006) through doctrine of necessity (later declared by courts as an interloper government) by Dr Chris Ngige from Anambra Central; and eight years (17th March, 2006-17th March, 2014) by Mr. Peter Obi from same Anambra Central; as well as eight years (17th March, 2014 -17th March, 2022) by Mr. Willie Obiano from Omambala part of Anambra North when his tenure elapses.
It must be further reminded that under the eight years of Mr. Peter Obi, the laws of the land added the brief intervals the duo of Madam Virginia Etiaba and Mr. Emmanuel Nnamdi Uba (Andy) held sway (in acting capacity) in the counting of Mr. Obi’s eight years (17th March, 2006-17th March 2014).
So, is it right to now say that equity and fairness favour Anambra South?
Yes, strictly speaking and going by the principles of equity and fairness, the Anambra Central had since the return to civil rule on May 29, 1999 governed the state legitimately and by default for 11 years, Anambra North eight years and Anambra South for only four years. Apart from nearly three default years held by the Anambra Central as per Dr Chris Ngige, the Anambra Central and the Anambra North, by law, had governed or deemed to have governed the state for eight years each while the Anambra South was left with only four years (29th May, 1999-29th May 2003). Today, the gubernatorial power shift has rotated among the three Senatorial Districts and should come back to Anambra South.
But they say power is taken and not given, Anambra South are they ready?
You are correct. The People of Anambra South are hereby called upon to rise in strong defense of their right to take over democratically and govern the state come 17th March, 2022. Intersociety is strongly against political domination, exclusion and segregation of any type in any area, space and time. It is not only that the gubernatorial seat of the state shall be shifted to the Anambra South, but it must also be conceded to the political zone by consensus.
There is also the opinion that Catholics have had their share in the governorship slot in Anambra and should give way for other denominations. Do you share that view too?
Yes, the shift in the Anambra governorship seat must also include denominational shift. A situation whereby the Catholic Church has consecutively produced the governor of the state for the past 19 years or from 29th May, 2003 to 17th March, 2022 is denominationally dictatorial and unfair. It is time for members of the Pentecostal and Anglican churches or even traditional religions to be given a chance. To ensure this, the Catholic Bishops and the Laity should join hands with others in the search of a moderate and charismatic non-Catholic as the next governor of Anambra State.
I was born a strong Catholic and live till date as a strong Catholic; had my baptism, holy communion, confirmation and holy matrimony all in the Catholic Church; but in terms of governance of Anambra State, my respected Church, the Catholic, shall step aside, having taken enough shots at the seat of Anambra governor in the past 19 years. My respected Mother Church must therefore allow others a chance, except whereby they do not have anybody or unwilling or unable to produce or field a good and acceptable candidate.
Within Anambra South zone, which area do you think should produce the governor between Old Aguata zone, Nnewi or Ihiala zone?
All we are saying is that the turn of the people of Anambra South Senatorial District comprising Old Aguata, Ihiala and Nnewi zones, to produce the next elected governor of the state is totally non negotiable. This is clearly hinged on the principle of power shift or rotation powered by equity and fairness. But coming to Anambra South proper, equity and fairness shall determine which particular zone between Old Aguata or Nnewi or Ihiala zone that shall take the turn of producing the next governor. When we get to that bridge, we shall cross it.
But let me say it again that any governorship aspirant jostling for the seat through one of the major political parties who is from a Senatorial District other than Anambra South, is likely committing a political suicide or embarking on political suicide mission. Rather than embarking on such political suicide mission, the affected governorship aspirants and their supporters and entire political districts or zones are strongly called upon to back out and join in the search for quality candidates from Anambra South irrespective of political parties of their belonging. To achieve the above, money politics, squander-mania, mediocrity and daftness must give way for skillfulness or intellectual and leadership capacity, leadership charisma and commitment to render selfless service to mankind and society if elected into public office.
It must be pointed out clearly and boldly that any attempt to deny the people of Anambra South their right to produce the next governor of Anambra State in November 2021 is capable of making the state ungovernable including resurrecting and drawing the wrath of the Old Aguata political mafia. This must be pursued and fought by the people of Anambra South with vehemence, vigour and tenacity.