By Anayo Okoli, ENUGU
AHEAD of the November 2021 Anambra State governorship election, a right and rule of law group has insisted that it is the turn of Anambra South Senatorial district to produce the governor and urged all the political parties to source their candidates from the zone.
The group, International Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law, Intersociety, said that adhering to the zoning arrangement would engender peace, equity and justice in the state, pointing out that it would amount to ridicule for the Igbo to be talking of zoning at the federal level and at the same time rejecting it at home.
According to the group, the issue of zoning the governorship to the south has since been agreed to by various stakeholders in the state even before Governor Willy Obiano’s second tenure election and urged that nothing would be done to derail the arrangement.
In a statement by the group and signed by its Board Chairman, Emeka Umeagbalasi and Chinwe Umeche, head, democracy and good governance, the group said that their position was prompted by attempts being made by some persons and groups to thwart the zoning arrangement which has ensured peace and harmony in the state.
“We hereby renew our strong but persuasive call on all governorship aspirants and electorate from Anambra Central and Anambra North Senatorial Districts to allow and support the emergence of a popular and credible governor from Anambra South in the November election.
Our position is in line with principles of equity, fairness and collective security as well as the spirit and letters of Sections 14 (4) and 42 of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 as amended.
“From available records, there are binding and irrevocable agreements on governorship shift in Anambra, popularized under the administration of Mr. Peter Obi. As recently as 2017, when Anambra was close to the last gubernatorial election, the late Dr. Alex Ekwueme, together with many other influential leaders of thought in Anambra, advanced the zoning principle and declared publicly that Anambra North be allowed to complete their second term.
“In the same 2017, a number of some non-partisan stakeholders and groups met at different fora and resolved that only political parties that selected their candidate from Anambra North should be considered by Anambra voters. Participants included the Anambra Union comprising politicians, academics, retired public officers, etc.
“Also, the Anambra State chapter of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, at a joint meeting with traditional rulers and President Generals of all the autonomous communities of the State on May 16, 2017, at Awka, enjoined all political parties to pick their flag bearers from Anambra North for the then coming Anambra Governorship poll. Anambra State Association of Trade Unions, ASATU, said they believe in the sanctity of zoning as the basis of political power-sharing in the State. Anambra Traditional Rulers have also lent their support to it.
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“As lately as March 4, 2020, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, former Commonwealth scribe and Chairman of the Anambra State Traditional Rulers Council, Igwe Nnaemeka A. Achebe, the Obi of Onitsha, led the Elders Council in a meeting with Governor Willie Obiano where this issue, among others, was agreed and communicated in a press release. The Council reiterated its support on the rotation of the office of the Governor among the three senatorial zones in the state, and hence its expectation that the next Governor of the State will come from the Anambra South Senatorial District”, the group said.
The group further said that: “In our analysis of how the Anambra governorship seat had rotated since 29th May 1999, it was discovered that the South has had only four years since under Dr Chinweoke Mbadinuju, the center had 11 years, courtesy of Peter Obi and Chris Ngige and the North is having the last lap of its 8 years of two tenures. Where then lies equity.
“It is therefore right to conclude that with a minimum of eight years taken by Peter Obi from Anambra Central and additional three years by Ngige, the 8 years being taken by the Anambra North; Anambra South is being short-changed. In other words, while Anambra Central occupied the elective seat of the Governor of Anambra State for eleven years by 17th March 2022, the Anambra North would have stayed in the same office for eight years; all as against Anambra South which took only four years”.
The group also warned that there must be no sentiments in applying the zoning formula such that a person would hold an elective position at the National Assembly under one zone and come to another zone to run for governorship, insisting that such practice would not be condoned.
Insisting that Anambra South must be given the choice of refusal to grab the chance, Intersociety said “the only way the Anambra South Senatorial District will legitimately and credibly be denied the next governorship seat of Anambra State whereby the Senatorial District declines or indicates unwillingness and inability to field candidates in any or all of the political parties in the State. The decision by the Anambra South senatorial district in this respect must be collective and endorsed by all the traditional rulers, president-generals of town unions, village heads and clergies in all the communities that make up the district.
“And such resolution shall also be communicated to the governor of the state and the National and state lawmakers”.