Zoning, for this writer, is a political solution to a political problem. Little wonder politicians resort to it when they get entangled with the issues of power sharing. It has tended to bring peace and equity in distribution of political offices. In the face of impending elections in the land, at the national and state levels, the matter of zoning is bound to take centre stage, a reason the Igbo of Nigeria believe that equity would be better served if the political elite would cede the position of President to someone from the zone. In Enugu State, my in-laws, unlike in Imo, my home state, the political elite have since come to terms with equitable distribution of the governorship position around the zones. Imo has proven to be the reverse, given that one zone has virtually held the position in what is akin to perpetuity. When the people resisted, the Supreme Court aided the zone that seemed to be born to rule the state.
In Enugu, the powerbrokers have come to the consensus that, since governorship position has gone round the zones, with Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who has acquitted himself creditably, coming from Nsukka zone for Enugu North, the pendulum should now swing to Enugu East. The governor, who ought to have the first choice in getting a successor, has, as a believer in the system, aligned himself with allowing the rotating pendulum to swing where the people want. Enugu State is indeed blessed with political elite who adhere to democratic tenets, unlike my state where governors would endorse their son-in-laws to succeed them, and still want us doff our hats for them as democrats.
It would, however, seem that the some political elite in Enugu want to torpedo the zoning progress in that state. It has come to public knowledge that though Enugu East has got the nod to produce the next governor, some political bigwigs in the state, who would rather draw back the hand of the clock than lend their big voices to the matter of getting their peers at the national level to zone the presidency to the South East and even throw their hat in the ring, are playing a local and rather dangerous politics of narrowing the Enugu gubernatorial choice to just one local government area. Such micro-zoning defeats the essence of the process. The contest should naturally be thrown open to the plethora of capable hands in the zone. I hear they want someone from Nkanu East Local Government Area to fly the flag, to the detriment of other people from the zone who have the pedigree and competence to do the job. They say Nkanu East has not reaped the dividends of democracy in the state. Ironically, some of the people making these assertions have had the privilege of governing the state, and they hail from the said local government area. There is no better self-indictment than their current stance and reason.
Beyond the foregoing, zoning does not imply that the elected politician is to take care of only his zone. It is a sure way of ensuring equity, which is why it could be dangerous and even detract from the political capital of the contestant, if the impression becomes obvious that he is seeking office for the purposes of skewing development to his zone. Anyone in Enugu East who has the capacity and pedigree should stand up to be counted, and the kingmakers of Enugu should throw the contest open for people from Enugu East. The Nigerian economy has increasingly shrunk to the point that politics ought to be left to people who can think outside the box, and provide solutions. The time has moved away from the era of installing lackeys rather than thinkers.
Observers like this writer who have wished their own states imitated Enugu in the matter of zoning, would lose respect for the kingmakers in the state if they degenerate to this abysmal level in a state that has since risen to be the envy of many. In all of this, I do not know where Ugwuanyi leans, but I do not expect that he would support micro-zoning. In any case, he should have a say in the matter, if he does not want a retardation in the huge success he has made of governance in the state. The coming days are bound to be challenging because politics of patronage would give way to politics of ideas for any state that would stand firmly in the comity of states in Nigeria. There ought to be deliberate attempts to go for tried and tested people, just as equity is sustained in the process. If the powerbrokers in Enugu have come to the agreement that Enugu East deserves the right to produce the next governor, then the best from the zone should emerge in an open contest among the capable contenders. The idea being mooted, and now canvassed, by some leaders to micro-zone the choice to one local government area detracts from the ultimate aim and tenets of zoning. It gives the impression that the political elite in the state are deliberately looking the other way as the house of zoning they had erected enviably in the past begins to collapse. It is even more pathetic for the idea to come from those who had the opportunity to better the lot of the local government area in contention but failed to do so. Their campaign now gives the erroneous impression that the in-coming governor would focus his attention to only one local government. Such views could de-market him. Such decisions stand zoning on its head.