The imperative of maintaining peaceful transition of rotational governorship in Enugu State at the 2023 election was the focus of a social conversation convoked by a body of politicians and stakeholders from Enugu East LGA under the aegis of Ije Awele Enugu East Senatorial Zone 2023.
Speakers at the occasion, on December 2, 2021, at the Universal Hotel in the state capital, discussed extensively issues geared towards achieving power shift to the zone in 2023.
The group, Ije Awele, pushing for a peaceful handover of the reins of government in 2023 to a candidate from Enugu East Senatorial Zone, is convened by Engr. Mike Ogbuekwe, the Special Adviser to the Governor of Enugu State on Agriculture.
According to him: “Ije Awele is a platform for sensitizing the good people of Enugu East Senatorial Zone and the greater Enugu State for a peaceful transition of government in 2023 based on the zoning agreement we have in our state. I want to emphasize the fact that the transition will be peaceful.”
Ogbuekwe, who hails from Nkerefi in Nkanu East Local Government Area, further stated: “We aim to have democratic discussions that will lead to mature politicking for 2023. It is important to do this to consolidate on the gains recorded in the administration of His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Dr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.”
The objective for convening the movement, Ogbuekwe avowed, is to create a united front for all aspirants from Enugu East Senatorial Zone in the 2023 guber race. The movement, he emphasized, is not for politicians alone. “We hope to involve captains of industry, artisans, youths and elderly persons as well,” he clarified.
Pointing out that Enugu State has garnered a reputation for mature politics of consultations, negotiations and discussions since the beginning of the Fourth Republic, Engr. Mike Ogbuekwe expressed a firm belief that the existing arrangement (though a gentleman’s agreement) on the rotational governorship of Enugu State will persist.
“I do not believe that the zoning arrangement will be altered because there will be superior arguments and conversations to counter any attempted alteration,” he averred.
He, therefore, called for understanding across the state, saying: “We call on our brothers from other Senatorial Zones to join us in protecting the interest of the Enugu East Senatorial Zone as it is a commitment to the interest of the entire people of Enugu.”
Bishop Chinedu Nwoye, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Religious Matters also affirmed that the groyup will be reaching out to other zones and make them see reasons to support them. “We need to show wisdom and reach out to our brothers in the other zones to support us to produce the next Governor,” he averred.
Bishop Nwoye noted that any scheme to truncate the zoning arrangement will be resisted by people of good conscience. “Gov Ugwuanyi’s emergence in 2015 was peaceful, his departure will be more peaceful and the slogan ‘it will end in praise’ is about 2023, because it’s going to be a smooth journey (Ije Awele),” he said.
He further affirmed: “Equilibrium is all we seek. When it was time for other zones to produce the Governor, there was an understanding, it won’t get to our time and it becomes problematic.”
He stressed the importance of electing electing “a Governor that will perform like our governor and even beyond,” come 2023.
Traditional leaders also made robust contributions to the discourse, among them Igwe Edike Nweke who also urged young persons from the Enugu East Senatorial zone to participate fully in the forthcoming electioneering.
“Our people need to demonstrate a hunger for power and see how they will be supported, because power is taken and not given, thus, they should come out and show readiness to take power,” he stated.
On zoning, the traditional ruler avowed that the system has been working very well for the state. Said he: “Zoning has been winning the peace for Enugu and shouldn’t be altered.”
Special Assistant to the Governor on Culture and Tourism, Hon. Monday Diamond Ani expressing optimism that other zones will honour the zoning system, enjoined those with aspirations for the governorship of the state from Enugu East to respect due process and decorum when the time comes.
The event was well attended by the who’s who politicians from Enugu East Senatorial zone as well as traditional rulers, the clergy, men, women, youth and student groups.
Other high-profile attendees at the occasion included Barr Steve Oruruo, Special Adviser to Enugu State Governor on Information; Hon. Frank Anioma and Hon. Okey Mba, both former chairmen of Nkanu East LGA, and Prince Emeka Nwatu, Hon Nkechi Okafor, Hon Arthur Edeh and Mr Joshua Ejeh.
Others were a two-time former member of the House of Representatives, HRH Igwe Rt. Hon. Eddy; HRH Igwe Hyacinth Edeani, Chairman Nkanu East Traditional Rulers Council, HRH Igwe Dr C. Nome and the Enugu State Honorable Commissioner for Health, Associate Prof. Emmanuel Ike Obi, represented by Ugwu Cyril Ndubisi.
In his remark, Hon Nonso Nnamani, a proponent of power shift in the state, reminded the Enugu East electorate about the importance of voting at elections. “ We need to also remind our people to register where they can access the polling booth on election day. We should endeavour to come out on election day, cast our votes and avoid transactional politics,” he urged.