Zoning governorship in Anambra, the antithesis (1)

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Zoning produced Obiano as governor from Anambra North

By Josephat Obi Oguejiofor

FOR the German philosopher G. W. Hegel historical progress is the evolution of the Absolute. This evolution follows a definite pattern. A thesis is posed in the events of the world. From this thesis a counter or antithesis arises; and through the conflicting relationship between the two, a synthesis, an idyllic situation is created.

Rev. Fr. Oguejiofor

If we transpose Hegel’s teaching to the governorship of Anambra State since the current democratic era, it can be said that the zoning of the governorship by the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to Anambra North Senatorial district in 2013 is the creation of a thesis.

It was the first time the issue of zoning reared its head in the state. In the preceding governorship election the Anambra North senatorial district rejected the position of deputy-governorship, insisting that after Obi’s tenure, the district should produce the next governor. That was one factor, among others, that foisted Willie Obiano to power, as governor. 

As Obiano’s tenure draws to a close, zoning has become a very discordant issue in Anambra. The somewhat self-proclaimed Council of Elders recently held a meeting under the sponsorship of Obiano to declare that Anambra South senatorial district should produce the next governor. That statement raised instant flak. An APGA presumptive contestant Dr. Elo Aforka accused the Council of Elders of playing to the gallery of the governor and furthering his agenda. 

A group of Anambra royal fathers under the leadership of Igwe Kelly of Igbariam also strongly lambasted the statement of the Council of Elders, insisting that competence should be the determinant factor in selecting the next governor. Earlier, a meeting of the stakeholders of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)  held in Enugu declared that the party does not subscribe to zoning in choosing the next governor.

Three important points are worth taking into account in this cacophony of opinions. The first is that zoning was the arrangement of APGA without contribution from other parties. That is perhaps why, starting from 2013, if zoning was a rule, it was kept only in the breach. Even within APGA, those who sought the party’s gubernatorial ticket in 2013 included Senator Uche Ekwunife (Anambra Central), and Prof Charles Soludo (Anambra South).

Contestants from other parties included Dr Tony Nwoye (Anambra North), Dr Andy Ubah (Anambra South), Chief Nicholas Ukachukwu (Anambra South), Dr Obinna Uzor (Anambra South), Dr Chris Ngige (Anambra Central). It is therefore evident that some present day proponents of zoning did not subscribe to the principle when it was propagated by APGA for the first time in 2013 election. Also most candidates did not think of zoning in the next governorship election in 2017, as leading contestants included Frederick Chidoka (Anambra Central) and  Godwin Ezeemo (Anambra South).

This inconsistency raises the second point: that zoning has become a means of scoring favorable political points for its champions. This makes the hype for zoning very personal if not selfish. The real point at issue in the minds of politicians is that the governorship should be zoned to their senatorial district with the understanding that it should also be further zoned to their local government within the district; and from there to their town. Finally, the ticket should be zoned to their person. That is why it is inconceivable that a governorship hopeful from Nnewi will be eager for zoning if per chance the ticket goes to another politician from Aguata. And what interest will one from Aguata and Orumba have in zoning if the beneficiary of zoning is from Nnewi or Ihiala? 

It is partly because of this selfish calculation that the proponents of zoning refuse even to broach the mathematics that will be necessary if the whole state were to agree on zoning. When Obiano’s tenure ends, Anambra North will have eight years of governorship in its favour. Anambra Central has had almost 11 years of rulership. The South with Ezeife, Mbadinuju, and Etiaba has been on the saddle for 6 years. If one concedes that the governorship should go to the South and run for 8 years, the region will very likely have the longest governorship with 14 years at the end. Where then will the office be zoned to after Anambra South? To Anambra North? If for the sake of the argument zoning again to Anambra North is not accepted, what happens to the question of equity if zoning is adopted?

The third point is that the foregoing issues are distractions from the real reason many Anambrarians were in favour of zoning the governorship to Anambra North senatorial district in 2013, i.e., the issue of uneven development in the state! Anambra North senatorial district, especially the five local government councils in Omambala and Ogbaru are arguably the least developed regions of the state. The promise of Obiano’s tenure was that more attention would be paid to the improvement of the area. With less than two years to his exit, how far has the region bridged the gap of development? Development can be human, economic and social but let us concentrate on infrastructural development especially roads, which can open up the district and greatly improve its economy? 

To be concluded

Rev. Fr. Oguejiofor is a professor of philosophy at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State

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