Obiano, Zoning and Equity in Anambra Politics-By James Eze
Former Vice President, Dr Alex Ekwueme may have unwittingly started a crucial debate in the buildup to the Anambra gubernatorial election scheduled for November 18 this year with his recent comment on Zoning. The former Vice President who is highly venerated for his immense contributions to the political thoughts of modern Nigeria was reported to have observed that all things considered, it was fair to allow the current governor of the state to complete two terms in office as governor in fulfilment of the zoning arrangement in the state which currently favours the Anambra North Senatorial Zone.
Ekwueme is on familiar turf whenever he talks about zoning as a panacea for peace building in Nigeria’s political evolution. The cerebral statesman is revered for coming up with the original idea of the current six zonal structure in the country during the 1995 Constitutional Conference. The six zonal structure was adopted under former President Babangida and has offered Nigeria some commendable administrative respite from the nightmare of ensuring equity to roughly over 400 ethnic groups and 450 languages.
Ekwueme was quite clear on the Anambra scenario though, pointing out that Governor Obiano is the first and only governor to have come from Anambra North Senatorial Zone and should be allowed a second term in office as was allowed his predecessor. His argument is as clear as daylight. Former governors Chinwoke Mbadinuju and Chukwuemeka Ezeife and to some extent, Mrs Virgy Etiaba are all from Anambra South. Similarly, former governors Chris Ngige and Peter Obi have filled the quota for Anambra Central. It would therefore amount to a travesty of justice if Obiano who is Anambra North’s only shot at political leadership of the state is not allowed the elbow room he deserves to lend firmer roots to the far-ranging reforms he has brought to the state in just three years.
As an elder statesman, Ekwueme has continued to earn the respect of many Nigerians with his weighty voice and timely interventions on knotty political puzzles that could easily have snowballed into avoidable nightmares. Consequently, his sagely counsel on the need to pay attention to zoning in the Anambra gubernatorial election should be taken seriously for the sake of equity, peace and progress.
A most nebulous scenario that might ensue if Ekwueme’s counsel is ignored is that the wheel of progress that Anambra has enjoyed in the past eleven years might grind to an abrupt halt. There’s a clear pattern of sustained development in place. It calls for more time on the saddle by the horseman of the moment.
Realistically, the rumoured ambitions of some aspirants from Obiano’s Anambra North Senatorial Zone would not quite fit into the emerging tapestry of political stability that Anambra has gained in the aforementioned period. In fact, any attempt to substitute Obiano with another candidate from his zone would create more confusion and throw the political atmosphere in a tailspin. For whoever is given such a chance would not be content with only one term in office. And the eagerness of Anambra South to mount the saddle of leadership after the Central and the North has never been in doubt. Would they be willing to wait for the eight years that the unlikely scenario of another candidate outside Obiano represents? I don’t think so.
In all these, what can never be gainsaid is the fact that when humanity pays a close attention to equity and fairness, progress is usually achieved. Much of the ills that bedevil Nigeria today are a direct outcome of years of inequity, unfairness and perversion of justice. Ndi Anambra would do well to eschew the temptation of fixing what has not broken and unleashing a wave of reactions that might imperil the impressive achievements that have become the toast of the attentive world.
Beyond the overarching issues of equity and fairness is the case of outstanding achievements that should speak for governor Obiano. It must be said that given the material circumstances of today’s Nigeria, no former governor of Anambra State can boast of the array of glittering achievements that Obiano has ratcheted up within the same time frame of three years. Indeed, Obiano’s sense of priority and his reading of what should matter to the people he is leading stands clearly ahead of his predecessors. His resolute, single-minded cleansing of the state of all vestiges of crime and criminality is a clear indication of his profound understanding of his brief as governor. The reaction of the investment community to a safe and secure Anambra with investments running into billions of dollars is a clear reminder that Obiano got his calculations right.
Similarly, his efforts to give Awka a facelift as well as the diversification into agriculture are all visionary monuments to our collective yearning for a more purposeful leadership.
All things considered, it would be a travesty if Ndi Anambra decide to ignore Ekwueme’s warning and all these hard facts performance, as November 18 draws closer.
By James Eze (firstname.lastname@example.org)