THE intrigues and political gimmicks unfolding in Anambra State are clear pointers to the governorship election slated for next year. Contenders and pretenders are declaring their ambition to rule the state, promising heaven and earth, and claiming to be the best, even when their antecedents indicate the contrary.
People of questionable character and ill-gotten wealth are already throwing money at the people. Some of them have failed to manage their private businesses and owe their workers millions of naira in outstanding salaries and allowances.
Even those who had a stint in the political offices before now, without any meaningful contributions to show for it, are also back in the race.
Curiously, the state government is also busy clearing the ground to ensure, apparently, that the governor’s anointee succeeds him. Is this why government funds are being shared to individuals, churches, and communities in a manner that suggest bribe for votes ahead of the election?
Beneficiaries of the state government’s suspicious gestures which were widely reported in national dailies include members of Agbo-Edo Motor Spare Parts Dealers Association, Nnewi that were presented with N35 million cheque for construction of the major access road across the market.
Similarly the governor recently presented a cheque of N30 million to Chikason Group, Nnewi for the reconstruction of Chikason road. Governor Peter Obi said the gesture was part of his promise to always support and encourage industrialists in the state through provision of key infrastructural facilities such as access road to their factories in order to grow and expand their businesses to create more employment opportunities.
He also presented a cheque of N3 million to the management of Christ the King College, Onitsha, during a recent visit to the school, explaining that the gesture was in fulfilment of his promise to match any organisation that decides to build anything in any part of Anambra Sate with equal funds.
Recently the governor, in Awka, gave out N733 million to Catholic and Anglican churches to run their schools in the state.
He said the money was for the rehabilitation of primary schools taken over by the state government in 1970 but returned to the missions in 2011. The governor said he was impressed with the churches’ collaboration in rebuilding education in the State
These gestures are unprecedented, but nobody is asking questions on the sudden official charity at the twilight of the administration and how the public funds will be utilized and accounted for. When has the state government become a Father Xmas?
Or has the government run out of governance ideas that warrant giving out public funds at will to individuals to embark on developmental projects?
One is also concerned about sentiment being expressed over which senatorial zone should produce the next governor of the state, instead of yearning for a strong character and quality leadership that will take the state to the next level.
Unfortunately Governor Obi who was never a product of any zoning has promised the people of Anambra North senatorial zone that his successor would be chosen from there. His reason and that of his allies was that since 1999, the North has remained the only senatorial zone in the state that has not produced governor of the state.
But it seems Obi and his allies have forgotten that since 1999, people from Anambra North zone have contested governorship election in the state though they have not won any. Besides, at no time did the people of the state agreed that governorship seat would rotate among the three zones in the state.
Anambra people should be concerned about quality of their leaders, rather than the zone they come from, or their party platforms. Why should Anambra government introduce such divisive tactics to charge the peaceful political atmosphere in the state ahead of the election? Political power is never given on a platter of gold; rather, it is taken.
And in every free and fair election, the voters remain the ultimate decider of the outcome. Anambra people should be allowed to make their choice in the election. All those who are aspiring for political seat should work for it by reaching out to the people, not by offering money for votes but with their people-oriented economic blueprint on how to move the state forward if elected.
The 1999 Constitution, as amended, has no provision for zoning for elective political offices. It only has provision for appointment into federal political offices to reflect the principle of federal character. The development on zoning has thrown up more mediocres in the system today than super stars of our time.
Zoning of political offices ahead of election is undemocratic and anti-people, no matter how one looks at it. It often shrinks the political space and provides limited choice for the electorate.
The fact that political parties do so, for strategic reasons, does not make it constitutional and binding on all Nigerians. All three senatorial zones in the state have enough quality leaders to aspire for the position, so why the campaign for zoning?
In all these schemings, where does the interest of the majority of the people of the Anambra State lie before and after the election, and what do they need to move the state forward? Anambra people should not be swayed by the financial patronage and political rhetorics of the aspirants and their godfathers.
The people should think and act wise in the election for the betterment of the state and its citizenry.
Dr. JOE UMUNNABUIKE, a Computer Scientist, wrote from Port Harcourt, Rivers State.