The Anambra gubernatorial election is almost here with us. Come November 6, 2021, all things being equal, Anambra’s electorate will file out to vote for a new governor.
Expectedly, the forthcoming election is becoming a front burner in the socio-political life of the South-Eastern state. Candidates are springing up in the three major political parties, while interest-based permutations and alignment continue to dominate the discourse on the best for the state, and which candidate and party will deliver good governance to the people.
Among the many issues confronting the choice of a new governor for Anambra State is the sentiments of ‘zoning’. The majority of Ndi Anambra are of the opinion (and rightly so) that the next governor must come from Anambra South Senatorial Zone. The argument is that Anambra Central had their fair share in Agu Awka for 11 straight years under former governors Chris Ngige and Peter Obi while, Anambra North, by the time the incumbent governor hands over power in 2022 must have completed eight years.
There are pockets of argument against zoning, which without going far, one will deduce that are feeble and anchored on self-serving political interest and subjective idiosyncrasies. Some anti-zoning agents argue that a qualified and competent candidate should be elected to govern the state irrespective of the zone.
As sound-minded as this argument may be, it is flawed by the fact that it negates the principles of equity, fairness and justice, which are fundamental in social harmony and coexistence. There are many people from Anambra South Senatorial Zone that are eminently qualified, competent and capable of governing Anambra State. The searchlight should beam on them.
Other arguments are permutations. One of such which is coming from some aspirants (especially those that are not from the South) in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is that a candidate from Central or North Senatorial zones stands better chance to win the general election since it is almost given that other parties will field candidates from Anambra South. Very laughable indeed!
This argument is self-deceiving and can only hold water to the gullible minded and perhaps those that are not fully abreast and rooted in Anambra politics.
Anambra is an egalitarian state with lots of political consciousness and awareness, even among the least enlightened and exposed voters. Those pushing this argument should do a quick survey among the voters and they will be shocked to their marrow to discover that village market women selling groundnuts and vegetables at Nkwo Igboukwu, Oye-Olisa Ogbunike, Oye Ugah, Eke Uke, Afor Nnobi, Nkwo Ogbe Ihiala and indeed all other markets in Anambra State are aware that the next governor of Anambra State must come from Anambra South Senatorial Zone.
As a matter of fact, the first question asked about any aspirant today in Anambra State is, ‘Where is he from?’ Zoning has become the first basis of screening and a pre-qualification determinant in the minds of Anambra electorate on who becomes their next governor. No amount of politicking, mind game, deceit and maneuvering can change this fact.
Good enough, the elites, the Igwe’s, the Elders Forum etc, in one way or another have spoken in favour of zoning. Key political stakeholders in Anambra State, a PDP stalwart, Osita Chidoka has come out openly on Arise TV to stand and identify with zoning and acknowledge the truth that the next governor must come from Anambra South. The truth is that any candidate presented by any party that is not from Anambra South Senatorial Zone in the November 6, 2021 election is dead on arrival!
Zoning may not be enshrined in our national and party constitutions, respectively. Still, it is not alien in our politics and power distribution over the years, even at the national level. Zoning is a pragmatic approach to power dilution and structural balance. There has never been a time in Nigerian politics that zoning has been ignored outright in the share of power and allocation of resources.
When a President is from the North, the Vice President comes from South; when the President is a Christian, the Vice President is a Muslim, and vice versa. We have federal character, and we have educationally disadvantaged zones, etc, all these are forms and fragments of zoning.
The ruling APC party recently zoned the next President to the South with calls from well-meaning Nigerians that it should be driven to the South-East as the next beneficiary. In internal democracy among parties, zoning had been a significant consideration in the election of party officials. A lot of state elections across the country had in the distant and near past considered zoning in the election of candidates during primaries. The truth remains that our life as a nation in so many ways revolves around zoning.
Zoning is an unwritten political constitution that is beginning to take its right of place in the mind of every progressive Nigerian and Anambra State in the choice of her next governor must align to this imperative.
Obiora is a political analyst and writes from Enug