By MIKE UDAH
THIS piece is a reaction to an article entitled “ Why Anambra guber zoning may not hold” written by one Nebuwa Okudo and published on page 65 of Saturday SUN of December 22,2012.
As a preamble, I must state unequivocally that I am not given to foul, uncouth language to dismiss the opinions of people, for as that erudite first female professor of Mass Communication in Sub-Saharan Africa,Prof. Stella Chinyere Okunna would tell you any day, “the media is a market place of ideas”. What this simply means is that people are free to canvass on the pages of newspapers whatever ideas they hold dear, provided ,of course ,they do not offend the laws of the land on slander, libel and the like.
This right to freedom of expression is also found in other constituencies apart from the media. In Courts, for instance, lawyers ( and even non- lawyers in some instances) express their opinions the way they deem fit again, of course ,with a proviso- that they do this within the confines of the law, after all Jean Jacques Rousseau that Genevan philosopher, writer and composer of 18th century Romanticism of French expression , caution that “man is born free but he is everywhere in chains”
It is in the light of the foregoing that one perceives the piece under reference. Nebuwa Okudo is entitled to his opinion on the question of the opinion, repeat, opinion of Governor Peter Obi that,come the next gubernatorial election in Anambra State, someone from Anambra North Senatorial zone should mount the saddle.
It is not without reason that Governor Obi thinks the way he does on this issue. And like Okudo , His Excellency is entitled to his views. Governor Obi is not alone in this line of thought. I also support his view, and I know other people do as well.
It is important to state here that Okudo ‘s attempts to justify his stand on the issue of the zoning of the next governorship position in Anambra do not hold,if I can borrow his own phraseology.
For one, there is no correlation between his claim that people of Anambra North extraction “are not destitute, peasants, slaves or power mongers” and the campaign for the same people to be allowed to govern Anambra State.
Using this very article and position enunciated by Okudo in this piece, were candidates from the South -west zone favoured by all the political parties in the 1999 presidential election because they were destitute, peasants, slaves or power mongers?
It is very clear, that Okudo in an unsuccessful attempt to argue his point,simply ended up contradicting himself and churning out fallacies , over – generalisations and half- truths if not sheer falsehoods. Consider this statement made by him : “ We are peace loving people who would use legitimate and constitutional means to seek power so that we can effectively serve the people” .
Here he gives the impression that he hails from Anambra North and that zoning is illegitimate and unconstitutional . Nothing can be more fallacious than this claim! Is the Federal character principle which is enshrined in our nation’s Constitution not an affirmation of zoning ? Has it been expunged from our Grundnum?
Let us return to another fallacy committed by the author of the article in reference and I want to quote him for effect: “Perhaps, Governor Obi is trying to divert attention from the failure of his government to provide visible amenities and infrastructure in our senatorial zone” (Anambra North). What he is saying here is that Governor Obi is perhaps now appeasing Anambra North because he has not provided amenities and infrastructure there. This again is laughable, naïve and illogical.
The truth of the matter is that Anambra State under Mr Peter Obi’s watch since 2006 has witnessed revolutionary transformation. This transformation is noticeable in all three senatorial zones – Anambra South, Anambra Central and Anambra North.
To debunk the purported claim of neglect of Anambra North, one will make bold to state that the first road to be flagged off by Mr Peter Obi after his assumption of office as governor is the Anaku-Omor –Ifite-Ogwari-Umueje-Omasi Road measuring forty-two kilometers .
Governor Obi was sworn in in March 2006. He flagged off the construction of that road on May 1st 2006. The long stretch of road had since been completed , and that is the first road to have been done by any Government ever in that area.
In the same Ayamelum Local Government Area, Gov. Obi prevailed on the Federal Government to give the Omor Rice Mill to Anambra State so that it could be revitalized. He has taken a number of steps to resuscitate that rice mill which was abandoned by the Federal Government under other presidents( not President Goodluck Jonathan).
From the same Ayamelum Local Government Area, Governor Obi appointed for the first time since the creation of the old and new Anambra States , a chief Judge for the State who served out his term, and is now retired .From the same Local Government , He (the Gov) also appointed the former Secretary to the Anambra State Government. Gov. Obi sited a General Hospital in Ayamelum too.
The current Secretary to the Anambra State Government is from the same Anambra North Senatorial zone just as the Finance Commissioner , Political Adviser , Chairman of Universal Basic Education , Chief Press Secretary, Security Adviser and a whole lot of other office holders hail from this zone which Okudo claims is marginalized .
In Anambra North Senatorial zone, Gov Obi has rebuilt the Umueri General Hospital destroyed during a communal crisis; rebuilt Fr Joseph Memorial High School ,Aguleri, constructedthe Umueze-Anam-Mmiata Road in Anambra West Local Government Area, executed the Otupu Bridge project , re-constructed innumerable roads at Onitsha , Ogbaru etc. The list of his projects / infrastructures in this zone is endless contrary to the view expressed by Okudo.
Another wrong impression created in this article under reference is that Gov Obi has barred candidates from Anambra Central and South Senatorial zones from contesting the next gubernatorial elections because he has allegedly zoned it to the North. Far from him to do this! He does not even have the power to do this, and he is neither power crazy nor idiotic. This impression does not hold water.
Candidates from other senatorial zones have even begun to emerge , and it is their right to so do. For the records, what drives Gov. Obi’s suggestion to have someone from Anambra North to become the next governor is his knack for justice and equity. He believes that both the Central and South Senatorial zones had tasted Anambra’s governorship to the exclusion of the North.
And majority of Anambrarians share this view, for during the recent meeting convened for the amendment of our country’s Constitution at the Women Development Centre, Awka, stakeholders unanimously voted in favour of a rotational governorship in Anambra State to the chagrin and discomfiture of a former “governor “ who apparently forgot something in the Government House which he is desperately striving to come back to retrieve.
Contrary to the feelings of the Okudos of this world, Gov. Peter Obi has not decreed that he will anoint the next governor who must come from Anambra North. He has merely expressed his opinion to which he is entitled . Let those crying and wailing hold their breadth.
Gov Peter Obi is a democrat par excellence; he is not going to hang anyone who holds a contrary view. At the end of the day, Anambra people will speak. Those who disagree with the zoning of the next governorship to the Anambra North are free to canvass their views , but their campaigns should be backed by reasons , not fallacies , propaganda, invectives and innuendos. A word is enough for the wise.
Mike Udah wrote from Awka