Former governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, currently has a heavy cross he is carrying following the death of former Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, who before now was the leader of the Old Aguata Forum (OAU).
The forum, which is made up of the three local government areas of Aguata, Orumba North and Orumba South, respectively in Anambra South Senatoral District are angling for the zoning of the governorship seat to a section of the Anambra South Senatoral District known as the OAU.
It is against this backdrop that the country home of Ezeife in Igbo Ukwu, Aguata Local Government Area was recently greeted with a crowd of people from the three council areas, who included traditional rulers as president generals of the 45 communities in the area.
The agenda for the summit was the 2021 governorship position of Anambra State, which has been zoned to the South Senatorial District and Ezeife’s task is to lead the agitation for the next governor of the state to emerge from the political bloc.
For the former governor, the 2021 governorship project is a task that must be accomplished by the OAU.
His words: “When I sent massages to people for this summit some people described it as a meeting of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) stakeholders from the Old Aguata Union and the expressed fears that it was aimed at projecting an APGA political agenda.
“But I want to use this opportunity to state categorically that this is a meeting of brothers and sisters from the Old Aguata Union and not a party affair.
“You are all aware of the fact that Anambra State has zoned the governorship position to our zone and we can only achieve this if we come together and put our acts together.
“In the light of the above, I urge everyone to forget about party affinity and work towards enthroning a son of the Old Aguata Union as the next governor of Anambra State.”
Also speaking, the Chairman, OAU Steering Committee, Chief Titus Anigbogu, noted that the meeting was for all and sundry to appreciate themselves and fashion out a way to go about the 2021 governorship project.
“Some people have been saying that the OAU is divided into three groups, but I must say that there is no division in the OAU and people should discountenance those spurious allegations.
“We have only one leader of the body and we are in his house and he is Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife. Since the death of Dr. Alex Ekwueme, we are under him as a father.
We have not come to witch-hunt anybody and we hear of several groups such as the Aguata Think Thank, but our doors are open to receive more people because they are out brothers and sisters.
“This forum wish to assure you all that there is light at the tunnel and we have just triggered a process that would produce results at the end of the day and the meeting is a nonpartisan forum for us to harmonize ourselves for the future,” Anigbogu said.
The Chairman of OAU Professionals, Dr. Michael Ezeh and the Public Relations Officer, Mr. Anyanebechi Emmanuel, noted that their members are behind the OAU meeting and the quest for the 2021 governorship.
“We have gone far and wide, consulting other people on the OAU agenda and we are receiving favourable response from them. We do not want what happened before to happen again and you are all aware that we left the senatorial position for our brothers up there and told them to leave the governorship position for us and it is in the spirit of equity, justice and fairness that they allow us to produce the next governor of Anambra State.
“It is our expectation that the major political parties in Anambra State will elect their candidates from the Old Aguata Union and that is the only way we can achieve this project,” they said.
Former Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Chief Emeka Sibeudu, who spoke on activities of other organisations in the area, said: “The other group are also our brothers and sisters and I had earlier asked if they OAU as a body is an officially registered organisation and they said no and as a result of that I move that let it be registered so that any other organisation claiming to be the umbrella of the Old Aguata Union remains illegal.
“All the same, I urge our leader Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, to hold a meeting with me so that we can iron out the gray areas before the next meeting.”
According to the communiqué at the end of the summit, the body resolved to support the zoning of Anambra State governorship position to the South Senatoral District and that in view of the political equations, the OAU should be given the chance to produce the next governor.
The body advised the respective political parties to pick their candidates from OAU, while appreciating the efforts of Governor Willie Obiano to ensure equity and rotation among the three senatorial districts of the state.
The OAU as a political bloc is the heartbeat of Anambra South politics with gladiators such as Senator Andy Uba and his brother Chris as well as Senator Uche Ekwunife, a top contender for the governorship, who sent a high powered delegation to the summit in support of the project.
Director for Logistics, Senator Uche Ekwunife Campaign Organization, Chief Kenneth Arinze, who spoke at the event, said: “We have come under the directive of our senator who is on an oversight function in Enugu and she sent her support and warmest regards to the people of the Old Aguata Union, who incidentally are her kinsmen.
“Though her party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is yet to take a stand in the zoning arrangement, we are not losing sight of the fact that equity is just and should be factored in the politics of the state.”
Other gladiators eyeing the governorship from the Old Aguata Union are the presumed anointed candidate of APGA, Prof Charles Soludo, who had contested under the platform of the PDP but lost to the then governor Peter Obi in 2010; Engr Godwin Ezeemo, Dr. Godwin Maduka, Chief Johnbosco Onunkwo and Engr. Barth Nwibe.
According to Onunkwo, “the concept of zoning is a welcome development and it has my blessings, but let us not sacrifice meritocracy on the altar of mediocrity because we cannot afford to elect somebody who is incompetent because he is from Anambra South or from OAU.
Ezeemo, however, posited that the Old Aguata Union should ensure fairness in its choice of candidate, adding that the body should throw it open for all sons and daughters of Aguata extraction to enjoy a level playground for healthy contest.
Soludo’s supporters believe that their principal will emerge at the end of the day, but urged the organisation to be neutral in all its dealings.
As it stands, the contest in the South Senatorial District is between the Old Aguata Union and the Old Nnewi Forum made up of Nnewi North, Nnewi South and Ekwusigo local government areas, which is currently holding the senatorial position of Anambra South Senatorial District.