Nigeria: Intrigues, Politics and Politricks of Zon …

| February 25, 2013 | 0 Comments

By Dr. Socrates Ebo
In Anambra, politics is a sublime art. It is a jigsaw puzzle set on a nebulous terrain. It is dance whose steps are often taught by the spirits. It a game, not for the dull witted and the gullible but for the enigmatic and the calculative. In Anambra, appearance is different from reality; and reality itself is flux. Sense is different from

sentence; and language is different from communication. It is a truism that two plus two is four but in Anambra politics, two plus two could be two or fourteen. It is a delicate game of brain and pocket. In the game, every move counts for the difference between failure and success could just be one ill-timed or well-timed move. As 2014 approaches, there have been several moves by several gladiators on the political chessboard known as Anambra State. One of such moves is the arbitrary zoning off the next gubernatorial seat to Anambra North Senatorial District by His Excellency, Mr. Peter Obi, suddenly at the twilight off his administration.

On the face value, it is a move based on a nebulous argument of neglect and marginalization. The governor is of the opinion that other contestants step down their ambitions for any candidate, whomsoever from Anambra North Senatorial District. The underlying axiom is that the gubernatorial position ought to move serially round the three senatorial zones in the state. Since the last three civilian governors of Anambra had come from the south and central districts, it amounted to ‘neglect’ and ‘marginalization’ of Anambra North. But that is the face value which is marginal value in Anambra politics. But for the sake of argument, let’s look into the issues raised in that opinion. First, Anambra North cannot be said to be politically marginalized nor economically neglected. The colossus of Africa, the great Zik of Africa, the Rt. Hon. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first president of the country was a son of Anambra North. The quintessential Oyi of Oyi, the late Rt Hon. Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, a celebrated President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was a worthy so of Anambra North. The late Ukpabi Asika, former governor of the whole of Eastern Nigeria was from Anambra North. How could a politically marginalized people produce these political giants: a president, a senate president and a governor of the whole East to mention but a few?

In economic terms, Anambra North has the highest investment of the entire Anambra State, nay – Igboland. There is virtually no family in Anambra State that does not have a representative in Onitsha. Onitsha has been home to not just to the entire Anambra State but entire Ndigbo as the foremost commercial city in Igboland. Onitsha gulps greater part of Anambra Sate budget on infrastructural development on a yearly basis. Gov. Peter Obi devoted greater part of his seven years rule building Onitsha. Not even Awka, the state capital could get even half as much emphasis placed on the infrastructural development placed on Onitsha. Onitsha is not alone in the economic concentration in Anambra North. The entire people of Anambra State are massively developing Ogbaru, Nkwelle and Ogbunike – all in Anambra North. More than 50% of Anambra citizens residing in the state live in Anambra North and visit their zones only occasionally. Whence lays the marginalization?

The idea of zoning itself is antithetical to the ethos and modus vivendi of Ndi Anambra. The average Anambra man is enterprise personified. The principle of merit is the overriding value in our culture. Hence individual success is celebrated and hegemony fiercely resisted. A glance at Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart brings this vividly to the mind. In Anambra, self-made men; not institutions made men are celebrated. Our governor, His Excellency Mr. Peter Obi himself is a typical example. The Anambra man is a universal man. The world is his home. Wherever there is opportunity for merit and enterprise, there you see the Anambra man: from Lagos to Tokyo, Washington to Sidney, Vancouver to Taipei; the Anambra man is there pursuing his enterprise. All he asks of the system is fairness. The ideas of quota and institutional patronage are foreign to him. ‘’Effort’’ is his credo. That is the quintessential Anambra man. These are the values at stake in the gubernatorial Trojan gift of zoning. The metaphysical identity of the Anambra man is at state. His essence; that which makes him an Anambra man , and neither an Imo man nor a Sokoto man is at stake. No, this kind of zoning is not in our character. It is a travesty of everything the Anambra man is known for. Anambra State is Home for All. That has always been our motto until the Nigerian light fell on us and we became Light of the Nation. But truly, Anambra is home for all. It is a state where merit towers above discrimination. In Anambra, you see citizens of other states in the House of Assembly. You see citizens of other states as councilors and local government chairmen. These people have made Anambra their home and are freely voted by Ndi Anambra on the principle of merit. Any of these persons can aspire to the governorship of Anambra, and will be subjected to the same crucible of merit like anyone else. To institutionalize zoning in Anambra State is to institutionalize discrimination, mediocrity and the consequent corruption. Let me remind the advocates of this unholy zoning what Achebe said of quota leadership in his raves-making book, There was a Country,

‘’…what has consistently escaped Nigerians in this travesty is the fact that mediocrity destroys the very fabric of a country as surely…ushering in all sorts of banalities, ineptitude, corruption and debauchery. Nations enshrine mediocrity as their modus operandi, and create fertile ground for the rise of tyrants and other base elements of the society, by silently assenting to dismantling of systems of excellence because they do not immediately benefit one specific ethnic, racial, political or special interest group. That, in my humble opinion, is precisely where Nigeria finds itself today.’’

The unspoken value behind the idea of quota or compensation leadership is the concepts of ‘come and chop” . It is a sickly creation of the ‘national cake’ mentality. The individual is invited to ‘chop’ on behalf of his clan. The basic criterion that brings him to power is simply his coming from a particular zone. His overriding mission in governance is chopping on behalf of his zone. That cannot be our wish for Anambra State. Anambra is the home of the giants. What we want for her is the very best among the best. Where he or she comes from is inconsequential. We want a leader who can turn Anambra into the pride of the country in terms of infrastructural development.

But why would the normally urbane His Excellency Mr. Peter Obi, Okwute Ndigbo suddenly become an advocate of clannish impulses? There are suddenly more than meets the eyes therein. The next gubernatorial election in Anambra State is in the main, arguably a battle between Dr Chris Nwabueze Ngige (OON ), Dr Andy Uba on the one hand and Mr Petler Obi’s candidate on the other hand. On the sidelines are Mr. Ifeanyi Uba of Capital Oil and Gas and Prof. Chukwuma Soludo of CBN fame. While Ifeanyi Uba is said to be Chief Victor Umeh’s favoured aspirant for the APGA ticket; Prof. Chukwuma Soludo is also rumoured to be close to embattled erstwhile APGA chairman’s heart. Is there any wonder that Chief Victor Umeh has been politically torpedoed, Mr. Ifeanyi Uba economically castrated and Prof. Chukwuma Soludo effectively trimmed by the EFCC – in all cases fingers pointing towards the direction of Anambra State Government House? Anambra politics is really surugedematic. Surugede indeed, is the dance of the spirits.

As aforementioned in Anambra politics, the face value is no value. Is the touted zoning policy by the present administration a ploy to keep the ever popular Dr. Chris Ngige out of the gubernatorial race? Has the administration given up on beating Ngige on infrastructural development? Is it a smart move to neutralize the challenge of Dr Andy Uba? Is it targeted at keeping Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, Dr. Obinna Uzor and Nicholas Ukachukwu out of the race? Is it targeted at zoning Mr. Ifeanyi Uba out of the APGA ticket? Would the current administration be touting zoning had its hitherto anointed successor, Prof. Dora Akunyili from the same village as the current governor won the preparatory senate seat of Anambra Central against Dr Chris Ngige?

So after eight years in power, what the current administration relies on to sell its favoured candidate is not performance but clannishness and parochial bigotry? During the last election in Anambra, it was religious politics – Catholics against Protestants. Now that even the Catholics seem to be disappointed, it is the bigotry of zoning. Should we descend into politics of division? Are Ndi Anambra no longer one people with one destiny? Should we allow people to use religion and clan to divide us and deceive us? Should we allow the notorious swindle of divide et magiste to triumph in our land once more in the 21st century? Ndi Anambra, should we murder excellence in favour of mediocrity?

Dr. Socrates Ebo, 08064641470.

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