By Ernest Udeh Emeka
As the events leading to the 2021 governorship elections unveil, the People Democratic Party(PDP) has through its Deputy National Chairman, Deacon Austin Umahi stated clearly that the forthcoming governorship elections in Anambra state would be thrown open to all interested aspirants to the exalted position in the state. In a similar vein, the All Progressive Grand Alliance(APGA) through its’ National Chairman, Dr.Victor Ike Oye has confirmed the party’s favourable disposition to zoning of the governorship position to the Anambra south senatorial district after the tenure of the incumbent governor, Mr.Willie Obiano who comes from the Anambra North senatorial district of the state.
These are the two strong parties vying for the position of governor in Anambra state, each rationalizing its position as far as the zoning saga is concerned. No doubt the question of zoning or not zoning in Anambra state is assuming a mighty controversial dimension as divergent views and opinions on the subject matter are being canvassed by various interest groups and individuals.
The All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) is the ruling party in the state and produced the incumbent governor of Anambra state, Mr. Willie Obiano who comes from Anambra North senatorial district.Governor Willie Obiano is a product of the zoning arrangement of the All Progressive Grand Alliance in the state. He succeeded the former Governor Peter Obi from the Anambra Central Senatorial district and was at the time a member of the All Progressive Grand Alliance before he decamped to join the People’s Democratic Party(PDP).
The ruling party at the national level,the All Progressive Congress(APC) is yet to clearly come up with a position on the zoning of the Governorship position in Anambra state at least to the best of my knowledge. As far as these three major parties are concerned, this is the state of affairs in terms of the zoning arrangement.
With these positions by these parties as far as the zoning issue is concerned and the reasons adduced for taking these positions, it is clear that the 2021 governorship elections in Anambra State will witness an interesting scenario. It is equally important to note that the All Progressive Congress (APC), will also adopt a strategic position for or against the zoning arrangment all in a bid to have a foot-hold in Anambra state body polity.
In Anambra state, the fear of marginalisation and mediocrity is the beginning of wisdom. And so the principle of zoning is controversial. Between 1999 till date, six governors distributed within the three senatorial zones of the state have been produced. While the central and the north senatorial zones have served the most period, the Anambra South has served the least number of years since then. No wonder the calls by sincere advocates of zoning for power shift to the south have become most vociferous. And, it is by day gaining weight and ground among most reasonable Anambra people across the globe, for the interest of peace and equity. Though this has equally led to the recent charge of some politicians who are interested in fulfilling their selfish end, instead of achieving a political harmony in Anambra, which some elders and political leaders are out to achieve.
Opinions by various groups and individuals have been canvassed either in support or against the zoning arrangements. Such positions are gaining momentum by the day as the election process draws close.
Even the traditional institution is not spared in the debate. In a well attended meeting of traditional rulers of Anambra State in 2017, they unanimously endorsed zoning as a prescription which has the capacity to reduce electoral violence, acrimony, bitterness, as well as a tool to promote equity, justice and fair play. Whereas opponents of zoning arrangement view zoning as enthronement of mediocrity, ineptitude and incompetence, it is to be seen that Anambra State with its unique nature and endowments parades the best and the brightest in terms of human capacity and financial resources from all the zones. Therefore, the very best can be fished out from any zone once it’s agreed that it’s the path to achieve political harmony in the state. That’s why the proponents of political zoningas has not succumb to cheap entrapments and absurdities of those using capacity as an excuse to stand against zoning. Anambra people from all walks of life are intelligent and visionary people and there’s no equality of leaders you cannot get from each zone once it’s their turn. Most importantly, our Igbo people cannot be canvassing for zoning as a major factor that will help the Igbo man to get elected as the president of Nigeria, and come back home to kick against such idea. Especially, with Anambra State being at the forefront of the Igbo national leadership struggle. The funny thing about it all is that most of these politicians in public offices today got elected based on zoning. But now that they’re interested in the governorship election, they want the same zoning to be dished. How politicians can be this selfish is still what amazes me.
Before each party eventually adopts its position, it is reasonable to state that they should consider that the three plank objectives of democracy such as justice, equity, fair play must be seen as an underpinning factor in the choice. The three senatorial zones that make up the state should be seen to have equal stakes in the production of the governor of the state for the equitable and efficient management and distribution of the state resources. That’s why they must take a stand that doesn’t seem to be putting any zone into disadvantage position. That’s why the issue of zoning the coming governorship ticket to the South must be put into serious consideration.
In terms of the number of governors that have served the state since 1999, Anambra South has served the least number of years whereas Anambra Central has seen more number of years in the government house of Anambra state than any other zone in the state.. As can be seen, the south has been most disadvantaged.
Regardless of whatever arrangement parties adopt , it is imperative that Anambra people should be mindful of the fact that while considering the issue of equity, justice and fairness the socio-economic and infrastructural development of Anambra state should take a premier position in the minds of the people. Anambra State is a state that has produced many successful businessmen and women, academicians, entrepreneurs, civil servants and other professionals. It is an incontrovertible fact that Anambra State is the single state with the highest number of industrialists and billionaires in the country and has produced the most successful businessmen,women, political office holders and professionals in the southeast. These endowments and advantages should be exploited for the good of the people of Anambra state.It is only when these things are judiciously put to the use of the people of the state by bringing political harmony through zoning that sustainable development can accrue to the people. The billionaires and millionaires that abound in the state can complement the efforts of the state government for the rapid development of the state if and only when they work together through zoning to produce a governor whose mission and vision will be the transformation of the state into a modern and fastest growing state in the country. At the same time, while clamoring for competence, effective leadership and sustainable development, the issue of equity, justice and fair play should not be relegated as these constitute also major ingredients of democratic principles and practices. Here lies the hallmark of peace and development in every developing state.