Speaking the Nations Mind

The Argument For Zoning In Anambra State By Tony Onyima


Few, if any, can argue against the idea of power rotation and the peace it has brought to most states in Nigeria. Compared to any other idea on political understanding the rotation arrangement towers above the rest.

Little wonder why the drafters of the 1999 constitution enshrined the principle of federal character, a variant of this inclusiveness, in the constitution. 
Since it was first mooted at the federal level of government, many a state took up the idea to deal with their peculiar political problems. Among the states was Anambra. However, the eleven and half years unbroken access to power by the Central Senatorial zone was making the other zones squirm in discomfort. The seed of distrust was almost sowed and needed to be uprooted in order not to foul the fairly good political climate in the state. 

Negotiations were held by major political, business and traditional institutions and agreement reached. Power was to rotate to the zone with least access to power in the state. Naturally, the lot fell on Anambra North Senatorial zone which access to power predated the creation of the old and new Anambra states. Their last access to power was in the time of the East Central State when Ukpabi Asika held court.

After some see-saw of political activities, Obiano emerged to become the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and eventual winner of the election. His emergence has both the blessing of God and the support of man. Since that time the state has, at a reasoned estimate, witnessed unsurpassed peace that augured for accelerated development. 

Today, Anambra State stands tall in the comity of states with a reputation of unflagging commitment to security and growth. And it does not seem the people are in a hurry to dispense with the idea of zoning, at least not when the major political parties in the November 18 governorship election in the state have fielded their candidates from the North.

By peculiar virtue of the arrangement, it is expected that the South senatorial zone would produce the next governor of the state at the expiry of the term of the North in March 2022. It is fairly odd to think that because of the arrangement, any candidate from the North should be indulged with power in keeping with the agreement. Should that happen the expectations of the South, whose turn it will be in the next four years to produce the governor, would be cut off. Or better still, will be long in coming.

Therefore, to believe that either of the candidates of the APC or PDP, seeking to be elected on the strength of the rotation arrangement, would respect the agreement and spend only four years, is not thinking at all. No doubt, a campaign of a single term of four years for both candidates will most likely dominate the whistle stop messages just to get the support of the other zones.

But such promise can only be taken seriously at the detriment of Anambra South Senatorial zone, which is expected to produce the next governor. It will also be credible as long as the two senatorial zones of the South and Central have decided to gamble with the immediacy of their turn. For now, only the candidacy of Governor Willie Obiano has a definite date of termination in March 2022. 

If the story of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s renege on single term on the Presidency was anything to go by, whoever believes that either of the candidates would act differently does not appear to think right. Or if the unbroken run of some politicians in the National Assembly is taken into account, the greed of political office would become more evident. The recent hornet’s nest stirred by Aisha Al-Hassan, Minister of Women Affairs over President Muhammad Buhari’s alleged intention to run in 2019 is yet to settle. Everybody should be minded to guard against compromising the zoning arrangement such that the peace and development in the state will last. If well protected, the arrangement will doubtless unleash development previously held in check by bickering and infighting. Of course, no state develops without respect for order, especially where such order bespeaks of a glorious future. Think of what the state would gain in terms of resources hitherto dissipated on elections if campaigns are ordered. Not thinking differently, Professor Chukwuma Soludo had urged contenders against waste of resources which, otherwise, should be channeled to better use.  
So far, apart from Soludo, other prominent citizens have spoken in support of zoning. Prominent among them were former Vice President of Nigeria, Dr. Alex Ekwueme and former governor of the State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife among others. In urging support for its adherence, these foremost citizens of the state are not unaware of the cost of squandering the arrangement.