Ahead of the 2014 governorship election in Anambra State, NDUBUISI ORJI writes on the clamour by the people of Anambra North for the governorship to be zoned to them.
The next governorship election in Anambra State may still be far away. However, it is on the front burner. So far, no fewer than twenty persons across the three senatorial zones are known to be warming up to contest the gubernatorial poll.
Besides, the three senatorial districts in the state seem to have drawn a battle line over which of the zones produces the next governor. While the people of Anambra North would prefer the contest to be solely an Anambra North affair, to brighten their chances of producing the next governor of the state, their brothers from the other zones think otherwise.
The clamour for power shift
The Anambra North Senatorial District has not failed to tell anyone, who cares to listen that for the sake of equity, the next governor of the state must come from the area. Anambra North comprises of seven local government areas of the state. they include: Anambra East, Anambra West, Ayamelum, Oyi, Onitsha North, Ontisha South and Ogbaru LGAs.
Recently, many groups have been springing up from the areas to push the agitation. One of such groups , “Olu Na Adagbe Peoples Assembly” says it is out to galvanize the people of the area for the 2014 battle and mobilize support for the zone’s quest to produce the next governor of the state.
The group’s co-ordinator, Sherack Anakwue pointedly said their mission among other things is to produce the next governor of the state from the zone in 2014.
The thrust of their agitation is that nobody from the area has governed the state since its creation in 1991. According to him, “it is on record that since the creation of Anambra State, only the Anambra North Senatorial Zone is yet to be given the chance to produce the governor. Our movement is therefore a call on well meaning Anambrarians to give their support to fairness and equity.”
A former senator from the zone, and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) deputy governorship candidate in the 2010 governorship election in the state, Senator Emma Anosike says the people of the zone have continually been marginalized since the creation of the state 21 years ago.
The former senator opines that though the zone had always decided the outcome of past governorship contests in the state, it has never had the opportunity of producing a governor for the state. For him, 2014 should be payback time for the people of the zone. In a recent interview with a national daily, Anosike said it would not be out of place for their brothers and sisters in the South and central senatorial zones to support the north to produce a governor for the state in the next election.
“If you trace the history of politics in Anambra, you would discover that Anambra North has continued to be marginalised, and this is not fair at all. The zone has always been the decider in every governorship election. We produce bloc vote and this has led to the emergence of all the governors, both past and present. So, this is payback time. They should support us, so that we produce the next governor. This is not asking for too much from our brothers.”
Truly, nobody from Anambra North has governed the state since its creation in 1991. The first civilian governor of the state, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife is from the South senatorial zone. The next after him, Dr Chinwoke Mbadinuju is also from south, while Senator Chris Ngige and the incumbent governor, Mr Peter Obi are from the central.
Cumulatively, the South has governed the state for six years, while at the completion of the second term of the state governor, the central would have governed for eleven years. Consequently not a few believes that for equity, justice and fairness, Anambra North should be allowed to produce the next governor of the state.
However, a lawyer and former governorship aspirant in the state, Mr Emeka Etiaba said the recent clamour by the people of the North that the governorship should be zoned exclusively to it would not work. He described the clamour as a mere academic exercise that would not yield much fruit.
“Where has it worked, that a given people will begin to say we have not held power, it is our turn? You don’t queue up to chase power, you go for power , you take it. Nobody will wish it unto me. The people who are sitting in the comfort of their sitting room and saying that power shout shift to the north, that is a very good academic discourse, but i can assure you that it will not amount to anything.
Etiaba said there no arrangement in Anambra politics that stipulates that the governorship of the state should rotate among the three senatorial zones. He said if the people of Anambra North wants to govern the state , then they would have to “bring out their best eleven, if their best eleven is able to make it, they will produce the governor.”
A PDP chieftain in the state and governorship hopeful, Chief Obinna Uzoh agrees with Etiaba. He told Daily Sun “We have not sat down as stakeholders to say we are now going to start zoning. So, until we sit together as Anambra people and make referendum or as stakeholders and say we are zoning and this time, it is the turn of these people, we could begin to look at it”.
Uzoh says the kind of governor, the people of the state need in 2014 is somebody with good antecedent s and proven record of service. “the Anambra North, I wish them good luck I hope they will get somebody with very good antecedents, somebody whom the whole Anambra people will say he has done A B C D and he is suitably qualified to lead Anambra state. But if there is somebody else from outside of Anambra North, I want to believe majority of the masses will rather prefer the person to the one from the zone.”
But the leader of Igboadagbe Forum, one of the groups championing the Anambra North governorship project, Chief Chika Odiri said the clamour for power shift is not new in the state. According to him,even the emergence of Senator Ngige as governor in 2003 was a product of the clamour for power shift.
He says “Senator Chris Ngige was the first beneficiary of agitations against the predominance of persons from one senatorial zone as Governors of Anambra State. If you remember what happened between 2001 and 2002 when “Central Focus” was formed, it was because the central senatorial zone cried out that it was their turn to produce the Governor in 2003. They insisted that since only the south senatorial zone had continued to produce Governors in the past, the central senatorial zone should be given a chance. The campaign and agitations became so penetrating that the south senatorial zone which was apparently richer and more connected yielded.”
Odiri believes that consensus is still alive. Besides, he argues that even the Nigerian constitution provides for zoning in a way. “Zoning or power rotation is a strategy for achieving federal character. Zoning is federal character per excellence because the essence is to ensure that there shall be no predominance of persons from any sectional group in government or any of its agencies whether at the federal, state or local government level.”
As germane as the case of Anambra north is, there are a lot of obstacles it must have to surmount to achieve its desire. Part of these is the army of governorship aspirants from the two other senatorial zones. Presently, several politicians from both South and Central senatorial zones with enormous wealth and political clout are known to be interested in succeeding the incumbent governor.
In the category are the likes of Senators Chris Ngige and Andy Uba. Both men who had brief stints as governors of the state has not hidden their interest in the governorship seat. After losing in the 2010 governorship poll in the state they feel 2014 is their date with fate. There is the likes of Uzoh and Nicholas Ukachukwu, former governorship candidates in the state who are seriously eyeing the plum seat. While Ngige is from central, Uba, Uzoh and Ukachukwu are from the South. There are still many other politicians from the zones who are still keeping their ambition under wraps. Asking any of these men to suspend their ambition for a governorship candidate from Anambra North will be akin to squeezing water from a rock.
However, what Anambra North has going for it in the 2014 battle is the support of Governor Obi. The governor and the APGA national leadership had reportedly promised to support the emergence of the next governor from the zone. In keeping to that promise, the governor is believed to be propping up a candidate for Anambra North.
But then, there is the issue of the political platform Anambra North will use to actualize its dream of producing s governor for the state. Presently, there are three major political parties in the state-Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) controlled by politicians from South and Central. It is not likely that they will yield the ticket to the North. And it is doubtful if the North would want to use any of the less viable political parties.
The seemingly surest way for the North to produce the governor is for all the major political parties to nominate their 2014 governorship candidates from the zone. But it is doubtful if politicians from the other zones will agree to that.
Etiaba who hails from the South senatorial zone tells Daily Sun that “It is undemocratic for all the democratic parties to say the north will produce the candidate, but if they have the influence and clout to attract such patronage, who am I to quarrel, but I don’t think it is fine”.
“If it pleases God that the next governor of Anambra state will be from the north and he anoints the person, good. We don’t have a choice. But the academic exercise going on that power has to shift to the north, it cannot be justified, it is not doable. It has never been done,” he posits.
There is no doubt that in the days ahead, all the gladiators would be doing all they can to advance their case. But how far can Anambra North really go in its quest to produce a gov ernor in 2014?