As the November 6 gubernatorial election in Anambra State draws closer, it has become a settled matter for those of us in the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that our governorship ticket is going to Anambra South. This sentiment mirrors that of the electorate who believe that zoning the governorship to the South is in the interest of fairness and equity.
The incumbent Governor Willie Obiano from the North is completing his eight years in office by March 2022, after taking over from Peter Obi, a governor from Anambra Central who finished eight years. Before Obi, Ngige, a governor from the Central also, held sway for three years. Therefore, natural justice and common-sense dictate that it is now the turn of the Southern Senatorial zone to produce the next governor.
This momentum is visible, especially in the number of aspirants that declared interest from Anambra South. Seventy-five per cent of the aspirants in the PDP are from the South, while the other 25 per cent is shared between the North and the Central.
It is important to restate that the few turnouts from the North and the Central are not indicative of a lack of interest or qualified persons. As a matter of fact, there is an abundance of politicians eyeing the top seat in the state from these two other senatorial zones.
Respected individuals like our former governor, Senator Chris Ngige (Central), Dr. Oseloka Henry Obaze (North) and Osita Chidoka (Central) would have run for the governorship. In fact, Dr. Obaze and Chief Chidoka have made high profile commentaries on zoning, backing the arrangement and affirming the usefulness of the subsisting zoning arrangement in the state. It is a fact that the South presents the bulk of the aspirants because it is indeed their turn to lead the state.
Anambra people are highly competitive; therefore, it is not surprising that as many as 40 persons have emerged to vie for the position. This trait accounts for why our gubernatorial elections are always keenly contested and hard-fought. For more than a year now, aspirants and politicians interested in winning the elections have been making moves to position themselves to win the ticket.
In a democracy, every qualified citizen has the right to vote and to vie for elective offices. Thus, it would be undemocratic of any party to disqualify aspirants who do not hail from the zone whose turn it is to produce the next governor of Anambra.
I say this to settle the minds of those who would erroneously conclude that I am suggesting certain aspirants in my party should not be allowed to exercise their franchise during this election cycle. By all means, they are free to run. However, what they are not free to do is adopt duplicitous tactics intended to deceive and muddle the waters.
The aspirant who takes the lead in pushing such dubious narratives to support a dead-on-arrival candidacy is the sitting Senator of Anambra Central, Senator Uche Ekwunife. Rightly, she accepts the zoning agreements in the state and on multiple occasions, she has gone on record admitting that it is indeed the turn of the South to produce the next governor. But she desires to play a fast one on the people of Anambra by claiming to hail from the South “by birth”, from the Central “by marriage”, and even from the North by having schooled in the zone.
In democracies, politicians are required to choose their state of origin with regards to the position they are running for. Humans are multidimensional and you will not find anyone who cannot make legitimate claims to hailing from multiple places.
So, my earnest desire for Ekwunife, who has run for governor unsuccessfully two times before under the platform of the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) in 2010 and again as an aspirant in 2013 under the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), is for her to do the honourable thing by resigning from her position representing Anambra Central at the Senate and domicile herself in Anambra South. She can’t have it both ways – hold unto the mandate of the people of the Central and still claim to be from the South. It doesn’t work that way.
If Ekwunife decides to jump ship from Central to the South, it wouldn’t be out of character, though. In her eventful political career, she has jumped from the PDP to APGA to the PPA, back to PDP, then to APC and back again to PDP. It tells a story of one desperate for power and unable to show loyalty when push comes to shove.
My joy is that Ekwunife’s shenanigan of “father’s side” and “husband’s side” has fallen flat before key stakeholders in the PDP – at the state level, the South-East zonal level, and with the national stakeholders of the party. People are wise. Nobody is ready to be hoodwinked.
Ogbonna writes from Awka