Re: Enugu 2023: Between Zoning Politics and Ethnic Revisionism

By Godfrey Nnaji

Reading through the article published in The Sun newspaper of October 4, 2020 by one Prof. Oguejiofo T. Ujam titled “Enugu 2023: Between Zoning Politics and ethnic revisionism” was a delight of sort.

Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi

Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi

It was because of Prof. Ujam’s intellectual and logical chronicle of the genesis and traces of the zoning of the governorship seat among the three senatorial zones in Enugu State namely Enugu East, Enugu West and Enugu North since 1999.

The sequence of his accounts and line of thoughts showed that he has a grasp of the political events and developments that have shaped the state since its creation.

Eventhough there are some minor missing links and distortions in his narrative. I will leave that for another day, because it didn’t erase the essence of his message to the Enugu people, especially those who are hellbent on redefining and disrupting the zoning arrangement that has stabilised the governorship election in the state since 1999.

It was obvious that Prof. Ujam was supportive of the clamour for the retention of the zoning principle in the state in 2023, which invariably will favour the Enugu East Senatorial zone to produce Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s successor.

His position on the issue is in sync with that of the majority, sincere and patriotic Enugu people, who believed strongly in equity and fairness for all.

I am not their spokesperson, but it is a fact that majority of Enugu people are not in doubt that it is the turn of Enugu East Senatorial zone to produce the next governor of the state in 2023. They cannot wait to see it happen in the most usual peaceful and rancour-free atmosphere in 2023.

For the sycophants, hatchet writers, scaremongers and hired hirelings, who are distorting facts, peddling lies and spinning falsehoods on social media platforms to justify their obvious plots and conspiracies towards disrupting the zoning arrangement in the state in 2023, they are free to continue their trade.

After all, they are hired and being paid to do so, just because they are cheap, handy, pliable and transactional. But they should know that it is only when people get to the bridge, that they cross it. It is instructive for them to spare their energies now, until when they get to the bridge.

Surprisely, despite Prof. Ujam’s valid, revealing and convincing presentations from the beginning of the article, he lied, erred, goofed and misfired in his concluding part.

It could be observed that from the beginning of the article to its middle, Prof. Ujam cleverly and politically lumped the three senatorial zones in the state together, alternating and pairing each with its cultural affiliation, all in a bid to achieve his predetermined agenda, which is that cultural affiliations should take precedence over senatorial zones that is recognised by the constitution.

For example, he referred to Enugu North zone as Nsukka zone, Enugu West as Agbaja zone and Enugu East zone as Nkanu land. Yes, why some of these maybe true, not all the local government areas in Enugu East Senatorial zone are in Nkanu land or Nkanu people.

Not all the local governments in Enugu West zone are in Agbaja area or Agbaja people. This is why such should not be the basis for considering Ugwuanyi’s successor in the first place.

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Prof. Ujam went further to aprobate and reprobate by infering that some people within PDP are planning and talking about zoning arrangement based on clans and cultural groupings with core and periphery Nkanu of Enugu East Senatorial zone as their trump card.

He alleged that the protagonists of the dichotomy in Enugu East Senatorial zone are scheming to have Governor Ugwuanyi support a candidate from Isi-Uzo LGA, which comprises of Nsukka cultural and Nkanu people.

“But what the promoters of an Isi Uzo governorship slot do not reckon with is that even within the core Nkanu areas like Nkanu East and other border towns have not occupied seats of governance.

“Further, the schemers tend to lose sight of the present realities on the ground in the state, which is that PDP is no longer the only mega party in the country, as such; any attempt to divide Nkanu could alter the political standing between PDP and APC in the state.”

The above quoted insinuations and allegations by Prof. Ujam are too weighty to be ignored. It has also exposed him and his real agenda, which is that Ugwuanyi’s successor must be picked from Nkanu land for peace to reign.

This suggestion amounts to threat, stampede and insult to the sensibility of the entire Enugu people than appeal for consideration.

It showed how greedy, insatiable and selfish the acclaimed Professor Ujam could be in pursuit of political power and gain. Where lies the conscience of a man in the struggle for political power without human face.

The likes of Prof. Ujam should be reminded that Enugu East Senatorial zone that is favoured to produce Gov. Ugwuanyi’s successor is not made up of only Nkanu West and Nkanu East Local government areas. It is made up of six local government areas that include Enugu North, Enugu South, Enugu East, Isi-Uzo, Nkanu West and Nkanu East.

It is on record and verifiable that Nkanu West produced Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, who was governor of Enugu State between 1999-2007.

Nnamani is currently in the Senate representing Enugu East Senatorial zone. Between 2007-2015, the deputy governor of Enugu State in the person of Hon. Sunday Onyebuchi who was impeached along the line and his successor, Rev. Ifeanyi Nwoye, who was later removed by court are both from Nkanu East Local Government Area.

So, the two major local governments that made up Nkanu land have produced governor and deputy since 1999 and have their son currently representing the senatorial zone in the Senate.

What else did they want again, when the remaining four local governments in the senatorial zone namely Enugu East, Isi Uzo, Enugu South and Enugu North are yet to produce governor or deputy since the creation of the state in 1991. Are people from these local governments slaves to Nkanu people or brothers?

For Prof. Ujam to be openly scared, worried and even warned against a governor of Isi Uzo extraction in 2023 showed how nepotic, tribalistic and hypocritical he is. He blows hot and cold and should not be taken serious by anybody, not even Nkanu people he pretends to be working for.

People like him are major problems in the power politics and zoning arrangement. He can only abide by it when it suits his selfish agenda and play the ostrich or the spoiler when it is to favour others.

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What is Prof. Ujam’s genuine reason or grouse against Isi Uzo LGA producing Ugwuanyi’s successor, if not envy, stereotype, greed and pettiness.

Are there no qualified and capable people in Isi Uzo LGA that can succeed Ugwuanyi as governor? There are thousands of them, just like in other local government areas in the state.

What made Prof. Ujam believe that what made Nkanu West and Nkanu East local councils to produce governor and deputy governor between 1999-2007 and 2017-2015 was because they have more capable people than other local government areas in Enugu East Senatorial zone.

If Nkanu West and Nkanu East can produce governor and deputy for 16 uninterrupted years, nothing stops Isi-Uzo or any othe local government area in Enugu East Senatorial zone, apart Nkanu West and Nkanu East from producing Ugwuanyi’s successor in 2023. There is nothing wrong with it. It is doable and possible.

Prof. Ujam and his sponsors should know that it is not only the votes of Nkanu West and Nkanu East that will determine who becomes the governor of the state in 2023. It is the votes of people in all the polling units, wards and local governments in the state of which that of Nkanu West and Nkanu East are in minority of the total.

We know the senatorial zone and local governments that produce large votes in governorship election in Enugu since 1999. It is neither Enugu East Senatorial zone nor Nkanu East and Nkanu West. So why the noise, subtle threat and boast by Prof. Ujam that Ugwuanyi’s successor must come from Nkanu land for peace to reign?

It is unfair, discriminatory and the height of man’s inhumanity to man for the likes of Prof. Ujam to outrightly and single-handedly write off the people of Isi-Uzo LGA, why considering or discussing who succeeds Ugwuanyi in 2023, when they are legally and constitutionally in and from Enugu East Senatorial Zone.

Afterall Isi-Uzo LGA was carved out from Enugu North to Enugu East Senatorial zone out of political and constitutional exigencies and at the same time to reduce the votes of Enugu North Senatorial zone.

The people of Enugu East Senatorial zone including the people of Nkanu East and Nkanu West have been enjoying the advantages from Isi-Uzo people since then, only to suddenly become discriminatory and wary of them producing Ugwuanyi’s successor in 2023. What a treachery and betrayal.

Is this not the same political marginalisation and oppression that many Nigerians, especially the Igbos have always accused the Northern/ Fulani oligarchs of often promoting and practising against them.

The people of Isi-Uzo LGA didn’t relocate to Enugu East Senatorial zone by accident, pity or volition, they were constitutionally moved to Enugu East Senatorial zone in 1996 after the creation of Ebonyi State from Enugu.

Their cultural background or grouping has nothing to do with their constitutional right to contest for the next governorship seat in Enugu State, that will be probably zoned to their senatorial zone, Enugu East in 2023.
Prof. Ujam’s write-up has only exposed his ignorance, and might ridicule and expose Nkanu people to avoidable hatred and attacks.

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The write up will not in any way help Nkanu people’s cause in the politics of who succeeds Governor Ugwuanyi in 2023. No, it will not. In short, it has done more damage than good to them.

Enugu is not Benue State, where the Tiv tribe who are dominant in numerical strength in two senatorial zones often lord it over their minority Idoma brothers in every governorship election.

Votes from Nkanu land alone are not enough to make anybody governor of Enugu State. Enugu is different and that is why the zoning principle had been religiously followed and obeyed by majority of their people in voting for their governors since 1999.

Lest Prof. Ujam may have forgotten, the zoning arrangement in Enugu State was anchored on the plank of the three senatorial zones in the state and not the various cultural groups or zones that Prof. Ujam was pushing to buttress his fathom claims.

On Prof. Ujam’s threat that if Nkanu land is not considered in the choice of Ugwuanyi’s successor, APC will be an option. One should not lose sleep over that because Enugu is PDP and PDP is Enugu. Those who joined APC in Enugu before now have since returned to the PDP, because APC has no bearing or base in Enugu.

I strongly believe that Prof. Ujam has no mandate of Nkanu people to write this controversial and baseless article. It is not out of place that he was sponsored by the opposition to pen and publish the article to create crisis in Enugu State PDP ahead of 2023 election.

There is no cause for alarm, considering that major political forces in Nkanu land, especially senator representing Enugu East Senatorial zone, Senator Chimaroke has apart from handing over the Ebeano political structure to Governor Ugwuanyi and pledged loyalty, had also assured that they would support whoever Ugwuanyi chooses as his preferred successor from anywhere in Enugu East Senatorial zone in 2023.

The people are waiting and watching to see and know if they are men enough to live and stand by their words when the time comes.

Meanwhile, who is Prof. Ujam and his political value that emboldened him to pontificate on who succeeds Ugwuanyi and the local government in Enugu East Senatorial zone that should produce the person? People should be mindful or careful of what they write and peddle ahead of Enugu 2023 governorship election.

Finally, he who baths with cloth should be very careful, because he who lives in a glass house does not throw stone.

Enugu people are knowledgeable, peaceful and united. Let nobody try to lord it over anybody as we approach 2023 because nobody has monopoly of anything on earth, not even nuisance value. Enough is enough. Let peace continue to bind us together and prevails. Political power will come and go and we must remain Enugu people.

Mr Geofrey Nnaji writes from Neke, Isi-Uzo LGA of Enugu State.

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