Enugu 2023: Much Ado, About Zoning

By: Chief Hon. (Barr.) Sunday Umeha

So much ink, has been spared; and much energy dissipated in recent months over the dynamics of Zoning in the politics of Enugu State. The permutations seem to be gathering more momentum, as we gradually inch towards 2023.

I have extensively analysed the differing positions of the various Schools of Thought, and have juxtaposed the competing claims with the incontrovertible political history of our beloved State, at least since the dawn of the 4th Republic which started in 1999.

That meticulous inquiry readily shows that the bloated reference to zoning, has no place in the emergence of successive administrations in Enugu State from Chimaroke Nnamani in 1999 through 2007; to Sulivan Chime- from 2007 to 2015; and of course Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in 2015 and 2019 respectively. To the contrary, historical fact shows that each of these men from across the three Senatorial Districts of Enugu, at all times battled, in line with the precepts of democracy, with other aspirants and candidates from other Senatorial Districts, both at the party primaries, and subsequently, at the general election.

If there happens to be a pattern suggesting a zonal arrangement in the change of guard at the Lion Building from 1999-2019, then, it is at best, the product of coincidence which should not be elevated to an official State or party-policy, with consequences for persons who may have interest in succeeding Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi come, 2023, should they come from political zones not considered ‘qualified’ to vie for the office, by the zoning apologists in Enugu State.

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It was Charles De Gaulle, former French President, who rightly admonished that politics is too serious a matter to be left in the hands of politicians. As we inch towards 2023, the ultimate consideration in terms of power shift in Enugu, should be limited to issues around capacity, competence and relevant experience of interested aspirants; and not the petty and sometimes, defeatist argument of Zoning, which narrows the political options for Ndi Enugu.

A fact of our existence is that our people are grossly in need of governance. From healthcare to education; from security to employment opportunities; from food security to human capital development, Enugu, nay Nigeria, continues to lag behind. In my view, these are emergency concerns too germane to be sacrificed on the altar of zoning.

Assuming for a moment, one buys the argument of the Zonists, to the extent that each of the three Senatorial Districts in Enugu have all produced at least one Governor in the extant 4th Republic, it thus opens the door for aspirants from any of the Senatorial Zones to enlist in the 2023 contest. And so either way, Enugu cannot be made to suffer the defeatist position of having to choose its next Governor, from a single Senatorial District as peddled by the Zonists.

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As I conclude this intervention, I wish to state that my attention has been drawn to comments credited to my brother Rt. Hon. Chima Obieze-the member representing Ezeagu in the Enugu State House of Assembly, where he told a political gathering that it was the “turn” of Enugu East Senatorial Zone to produce the next Governor, and concluded with a dose of arrogance and overestimation of himself, that this position was non-negotiable. In the said video, my brother Hon. Obieze, also told his audience that he was a product of zoning, and would work to ensure its entrenchment, irrespective of what some persons in the State thinks.

While Hon. Obieze is entitled to his opinion on the political future of Enugu State, it is however unfortunate that a legal practitioner of his standing, and expectedly a progressive democrat whose political ideologies ought to be punctuated by progressive ideals as well as best practices on politics and governance, is rather seen preaching the backward and antideluvian gospel of Zoning.

And if we may set the records straight, let it be known, that Hon. Obieze is not a “product of Zoning” as he claims, but rather a product of politics of croyinism and godfatherism which saw him occupy what is clearly a “stolen mandate”, having not participated in any primary election sequel to becoming the candidate of the PDP for the Ezeagu Seat, in the Enugu State House of Assembly in the build up to the 2015 election. If therefore anyone should be heard making a case for the defeatist political option of zoning, on the basis of “justice and equity”, it should not be Hon. Obieze who lacks the moral wherewithal, all things considered. The rule of thumb, is that he who comes to equity, must come with clean hands. And he who seeks equity, must do equity. Hon. Obieze fails on both scores.

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The beauty of democracy is the opportunity it affords interested and competent persons to participate in the political contest, and having the electorates make the ultimate choice of who should govern them, per time. In that connection, excellence, capacity, character and worldview of the individual aspirant, takes priority, and not the part of the State they come from, which is what Zoning presupposes.

Enugu, should not be made the theatre of such undemocratic ideologies and tendencies.

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