*Traditional rulers heckle their chairman
*Town Union PGs fight dirty
The controversy being generated by the zoning debate in Enugu has yet again taken a toll on the peace and political cohesion in the state as traditional rulers under the auspices of the Enugu State Council of Traditional Rulers as well as the body of President-Generals of the Enugu state town unions are at daggers drawn over endorsement of zoning by both bodies.
Recall that the Chairman of the Enugu State Traditional Rulers Council, HRH Igwe Lawrence Agubuzu, had on Tuesday released a communiqué purported to be the outcome of a meeting of the royal fathers at their Chamber at the Enugu State House of Assembly, endorsing the zoning of the Enugu governorship seat to Enugu East senatorial zone in the forthcoming general election.
The communiqué signed supposedly by Agubuzu, alongside R.S.N. Ezeh (first deputy chairman), Julius Nnaji (second deputy chairman) and Godwin Madu (acting third deputy chairman), stated that “the founding fathers of Enugu State, in their wisdom, mutually agreed that the prized office of the governor should be rotational among its three senatorial districts”.
The communiqué further said: “In the light of the foregoing, the traditional rulers unequivocally affirmed, re-affirmed and declared that the governorship elections in Enugu State are based on rotation, through which, in 1999, Enugu East senatorial district took the first slot, followed by Enugu West in 2007 and Enugu North in 2015, respectively. It is now the turn of Enugu East again.”
However, one of the royal fathers, who preferred anonymity for fear of victimisation, said the royal fathers never endorsed zoning.
“We discussed other issues on our agenda, including our welfare, without any rancour.
“However, when Igwe Agubuzu introduced the issue of zoning, asking that the royal fathers support it, there was an uproar.
“HRH Igwe R. N. Ezeh, 1st Vice Chairman of the Council, reminded the Chairman, Igwe Agubuzu, that it was not part of the duties of the traditional rulers to tell politicians how to zone their offices.
“He said, ‘Your Majesty, when did it become our duty as Igwes to tell politicians how to zone their offices? Looking at the laws that set us up, we are supposed to be apolitical, as royal fathers’.
“Majority of the traditional rulers supported him. In fact, Agubuzu’s attempt at reading a communiqué prepared for traditional rulers council, by the State Governor’s media handlers, to the effect that the traditional rulers have endorsed zoning of the Governorship position to Enugu East Senatorial District was thwarted as he was booed by his colleagues.
“The meeting ended abruptly, as his attempts to get someone to say the closing prayers failed, as the Igwes walked out on him.
“We are all Enugu-borne and the royal fathers know the truth. The truth of the matter is also discernable from the inconsistency of the zoning mantra. A few week ago, former Senator Ben-Collins Ndu, came up with a minutes of meeting that claimed that zoning started in 2013 when the governorship was zoned to my people, the Nsukka or Enugu North people. How could you suddenly be zoning it Nsukka in 2013 after Enugu East and Enugu West had already governed the state. Where else could the governorship have gone if not Enugu North.
“Again, while Ben-Collins claimed it started in 2013 and made all the noise with it in the media, the unfortunate communiqué by Igwe Agubuzu is now saying it was initiated by the founding fathers of Enugu. So, which do we now believe? You see why we didn’t want to be part of the politics of politicians?” he explained.
A political gladiator from Nkanu East Local Government Area of the state, has expressed pleasant surprise at Igwe Agubuzu’s volte face.
According to him, he was part of a delegation from Nkanu East Local Government Area that had met Igwe Agubuzu, some days earlier, to solicit his support for their campaign that the next Enugu State Governor should not just be zoned to Enugu East Senatorial District, but that it should be micro-zoned to their Nkanu East Local Government over alleged years of neglect and marginalization.
Igwe Agubuzu allegedly told them that they were in “the wrong place” since traditional rulers are supposed to be neutral, but only for them to read the igwe’s communiqué on zoning.
Meanwhile, impeccable sources intimated that efforts were on to stop a protest meeting planned by traditional from across the state in Enugu at the weekend.
“They have been desperately calling us through the commissioners, threatening dire consequences for us if we go ahead with the meeting.
“My personal opinion, and which I consider the popular opinion among the royal fathers is that every part of Enugu State has government the State. So, let the best candidate emerge and we will all be happy to work with him. Why the desperation to stop some and pave way for just one person””, another traditional ruler confided.
Town Union PGs fight dirty
Meanwhile, while the dust raised by the contentious royal communiqué is yet to settle, a meeting of state and local government coordinators of town unions called by State Coordinator to endorse zoning has equally run into troubled waters, resulting in open media fight, creating more confusion.
While the contentious communiqué claimed that a joint executive meeting of the state and local government coordinators of town unions, held at Filbon Hotel, Enugu, had endorsed the zoning of the governorship to Enugu East, others have described it as a “charade”.
In a statement by their spokesperson, PGs of town unions in the five local government areas of Enugu West Senatorial Zone have appealed to politicians to leave them out of the zoning debate, saying that they have not endorsed any zoning agreement in Enugu.
According to them, it is not part of their duties as community leaders to endorse or otherwise the zoning of political offices.
The community leaders have consequently urged the people of Enugu State to disregard any communiqué purportedly signed by them endorsing the zoning of the 2023 governorship seat.
The President- General were reacting to a communiqué said to have emanated from a meeting of local government representatives of various town unions in the state held at Filbon Hotel, Upper Chime Avenue, Enugu, yesterday, where signatories were said to have been collected for the endorsement of zoning in Enugu State and the consequent zoning of the governorship to Enugu East Senatorial Zone.
Dismissing such communiqué, the Zonal spokesperson for Enugu West PGs, Ejike Ilo-Tasie, disowned it as a “charade”, saying there were more important things facing Enugu communities than zoning.
“We were invited to a meeting of representatives of PGs of the 17 local government areas of Enugu State. We thought it was about one of the various pressing issues facing the state but it turned out to be all about the endorsement of zoning.
“They also came with an already prepared communiqué, which they asked us to sign and threatened to withhold the monthly stipends of PGs that refused to sign, in addition to other possible sanctions.
“But many of us spoke out. Number one, this is pure partisan politics. What is our business with governorship zoning as PGs? Such level of politics should be left to politicians.
“Two, even if for whatsoever compelling reason we have to dabble into partisan politics and endorse zoning, are we not supposed to discuss it and draw our communiqué therefrom if we agree to it?“
“Furthermore, if we have to endorse something as sensitive as zoning, especially zoning the governorship to a particular senatorial district, are we not supposed to consult our communities and leaders whose mandate we are exercising?
“If we sign it, what are we going to tell our people? How do we convince them that we have not collected millions of naira to take such out-of-schedule action? They are not fools. They know that this is political season.
“Besides, the Governor has not named anybody as his preferred successor. If he does, then we can go back to our people to discuss it.
“In Igbo land, it is when you see a question, that you now know the answer to give. But in this instance, they are working from a predetermined answer to a question and we collectively decided that we will not be part of such shenanigan.
“We publicly wash our hands off this scheme and want the world to know that we were not part of any such endorsement by Enugu town union PGs if they go-ahead to publish same.
“There are many pressing issues in the State requiring our attention as PGs, not zoning, especially the type being promoted by political jobbers.
“We also have it on good authority that they want to use unauthorised persons to sign for some of our local governments like Aninri and Awgu”, the statement alleged.