Judex Okoro, Calabar
Chief Emeka Egwuonwu is the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Willie Obiano on community matters. He is an APGA chieftain based in Cross River State. He is also a member of Ohanaeze Ime Obi in Cross River and a one-time House of Representatives aspirant.
He speaks in this interview.
The Anambra State elders seem to be divided over the zoning formula in the coming governorship election and other political offices. What do you think that should be done in this circumstance especially as some people are accusing the elders of pandering to AGPA’s game plan?
Zoning is not all that constitutional, but conventional and has become an integral part of our political arrangement. For a long while, it has been driving our democracy and I can tell you that without it, our democracy would have crashed. The Federal Government has also adopted it based on federal character where every zone gets something based on zoning. Though it is not legal but it has been working and it even reduces election cost. If you tamper with zoning, then minorities in this country had better forgot political power.
No doubt, some politicians don’t believe in anything zoning, especially when it does not favour them. Again, they argue that it does give opportunity for the best that emerge at a particular time. However, with regard to Anambra State where I come from, zoning has worked for us and in Anambra, zoning also reduces the cost of electioneering.
Those that have started it since 1999 till date will continue to embrace it because it helps us tremendously. It is through zoning that Chinwoke Mbadiniju emerged, it is through zoning that the governorship aspirant in 2003 elections emerged when Ngige and Obi contested. Obi contested under APGA and Ngige contested under PDP but every person and every party and politician channeled their strength towards the central where those candidates came from. It paid off as Ngige emerged as the PDP governorship candidate and Peter Obi emerged as APGA governorship candidate. Even when the court removed Ngige and Obi emerged, the people of the state embraced it because he came from the same central. And after that, the former governor, Dr. Peter Obi, fought seriously to ensure that people of Anambra North, who have not tasted the governorship position, got it and that is how Willie Obiano emerged as the governor. Therefore, if there was a conspiracy between the South and the Central, the North would not have got it. So, now that the North have ruled the state and are about completing their eight years, equity and fairness demand that the thing goes back to the South and rotation starts again. I am seeing it from that angle.
Zoning is also being applied at other levels including Senatorial, House of Representatives, Councillorship and chairmanship positions in all villages. In most communities in Anambra for instance, we zone them into three, so at every four or three years of the election, a particular zone will produce either councilor, chairman, state or National assembly member and it has been working that way. There should be equity and fair play. If there are two pieces of meat in a plate and two of us want to eat, equity and fair play demands that I take one and the other one will be for you; we may not discuss it but we will apply it and this will help us not to quarrel because of the meat so that’s the way I look at it.
Don’t you think zoning may cost APGA the forthcoming governorship election in Anambra?
APGA is the third most popular political party in Nigeria. APGA started like AD, remember that the onetime AD was just controlling one state in Nigeria, but they remained focused, continued playing politics and at a time, AD got almost five states. Today, though the name has fizzled out but anytime you want to write about the political history of this country, you must always write that there was a political party that existed at some point in time with the name AD and they are part of the central government today in Nigeria. So, APGA has shown their quality in as much as the governance of Anambra state is concerned. Take it or leave it, a lot of Nigerians are yearning for where they can see the solution because we have a problem in this country and APGA has the solution.
APGA knows what they believe in because our people see APGA as Igbo identity and anyone who emerges as governor from APGA will know that the people he has come to lead does not give you a mandate because they are hungry but they gave you the mandate because they believe in you.
But APGA seems to be engulfed in leadership crisis. So, as a key stakeholder, how far have they gone in bringing all the factions together ahead of the governorship election?
I don’t think there is a problem. It’s just normal that sometimes the media may speculate just as some people must insinuate and attempt to throw spanner in the works of APGA leadership. APGA is one. In our last congress, there were no issues. Today, in as much as we know, legally and otherwise, we have only Victor Oye as APGA national chairman and nothing has changed such position. However, some persons would want to bring up some forms of propaganda and allegations in order to be noticed because in politics, if you don’t say here I am, nobody will notice you. The factions you hear of are imaginary factions; they exist on the pages of newspapers. We just finished general elections and we fielded a presidential candidate, senatorial candidate and other positions and Victor Oye signed for those candidates; so will it now change overnight.