Understating Why Anambra Has to Go North

Hon.  Oseloka H. Obaze, the Secretary to the Anambra State Government is from Ogbaru LGA in Anambra North Senatorial Zone
Hon. Oseloka H. Obaze, the Secretary to the Anambra State Government is from Ogbaru LGA in Anambra North Senatorial Zone

Anambra State, by fate rather than choice has for a variety of reasons assumed the role of being the fulcrum of Nigerian partisan politics. Yet Anambra politics remains slippery, and paradoxically, the most topical issue now. The reasons are obvious. Under Peter Ob Anambra has shifted from its prebendal political days to and era of peaceful, calm and civil politicking.

Nonetheless, the clamour for the next governor to emerge from the north senatorial zone of the state, continues to attract diverse commentary, some controversial, if not extremist. The recent emergence of Chief Willie Obiano of Agulerie as the APGA flag bearer seems to have exacerbated the attending controversy. But those of us from the north senatorial zone who have waged the power shift campaign, stand firm in our resolve. We are invested unapologetically in that process.

In the campaign to bring the governorship of our state to the north, I am often reminded of an advert which says, "opportunity --and true potential -- isn't always obvious, especially in today's challenging times."

Ahead of the 16 November 2013 Anambra gubernatorial elections, the time has come to unbundle and unpack the dichotomy between the equity-based rotation sought by the people of the north and the all-comers-and-freedom-to-choose preference being canvassed by those from the south and central senatorial zones, who have dominated the governorship of the state over the past twenty-two years. Those who deride Gov. Peter Obi and other advocates of the power shift to the north, are being less than moral and less than candid. Their hypocrisy is undeniable.

And here is the crux. Nigerian politics is not about normalcy or customary expectations. Nigerians covert democracy, but eschew its grounding tenets and want their conduct to be measured not by acceptable universal norms and best practices, but by a different set of rules.

In its uniqueness and unfathomable vagaries, the only certainty about Nigerian politics are the uncertainties. Anambra politics represents a microcosm of our national realities, where precepts rule. I should know, I have of recent been in the political maelstrom of Anambra politics -- the honest and trusting neophyte and novice that I am.

But there are certain constants in Nigeria's political power play. There is no altruism. Power is never given or ceded. Professional politicians covert their space and positions as if it were their birthrights; forget equity, fairness, or justice. It is for these reasons that many now resort to the judiciary to adjudicate matters within the political realm.

Then there are convenient or orchestrated political misconceptions. Recently, a fellow alumni of a dear old school, whom I hitherto regarded highly and considered a pal-in-good-standing, chided me in a public blogosphere for allegedly "advocating for intra-division of Anambra State; (North or South) for the governorship of Anambra State." All I simply did was reaffirm my stand that the governorship should go north.

My excoriator went further to ask: "What does it matter if the candidacy comes from north or south?" He was certainly not engaging in a debate, as much as expressing the abundance of an exclusionary heart and mindset. For him and his likes, zoning, rotation, equity are synonymous with promoting mediocrity. But then, as open and freewheeling as democracy ought to be, true democracy is about inclusivity not exclusivity. There is no way advocacy for rotation can be adjudged to mean that the advocates cannot articulate, reason or see beyond the narrow limits of their sectional interest or tribe. Can such adjectival qualifications be applicable to the Igbo who continue to canvas a president of Igbo extraction in 2015?

Nigerian politics is the veritable home for obfuscationists who pander to convenience and expediency as if both were going-out-out-style or close out collectors' item. Ever the paradox, even those who "teach ideas of nuance and complexity" (apologies to Adichie), are at a loss over the self-centeredness of Nigerian politicians who eschew equity, rotation or zoning, so that they alone can continue to run, govern and claim relevancy.

Let's look at the Anambra case more closely.
The most elemental configuration would indicate that in a state where there are three senatorial zones and three senatorial slots, the goal is to strike a leadership and representational balance without sacrificing merit. Just as the principles of federal character enshrined in our constitution takes into account the uniqueness of our ethnic demographics, it also took into account the need for equitable representation at the state and local government levels; hence the provisions of Section 14:4 of the 1999 amended Constitution.

Before now, I have taken the public position that the people from Anambra north senatorial zone are not groveling for sympathy and attention, but seeking what should come to them rightfully, if there is justice and a sense of equity.

Yet, there are those who would rather mortgage this moral and constitutional question and propriety on the altar of their unbridled selfishness, while cloaking their marginal defenses with the pretext that zoning or rotation throws up the worst possible candidates. In this and similar arguments, they overlook the import of their rationalization; that nothing good could ever come out of disenfranchised areas. We know better.

Contextually, this issue is also ethical. The facts speak and stand on their merit. Anambra State is twenty-two years old this August. In all these years, only the south and central zoned have produced governors for the state, albeit, through no orchestrated fault of theirs. But that is the prevailing reality and incontestable fact. So why not make a shift, calculated or otherwise?

There are two pivotal balancing strands that speak to the need for rotation. As Mike Nebe recently observed, "Coming from Anambra State, I cared very little if all our successive governors came from one town. I am more interested that we receive good governance, and that should be the standard in most states, especially tribally homogeneous states." The foregoing speaks to normalcy. However, the same observer, admits the following given our abnormal situation. "Zoning is a desirable tool that when followed carefully can successfully address political imbalances, until a country matures democratically to the point that such things are no longer needed." Ditto Anambra State.

Apropos Anambra and the present process, Nebe rightly averred: "Once this last cycle is completed, it would be in the interest of all political parties to open up their nomination process to the whole state and allow the best candidate to emerge. Or these parties risk putting themselves at a disadvantage, especially in states that share the same tribe, culture, religion, and so forth as is the case in most Igboland.". The case is made. I need not say more.

In closing, this is what needs to be borne in mind. The push to produce a governor from Anambra north has yielded tangible results. It put to an end the fallacious notion in certain quarters that Anambra North is bereft of qualified and capable politicians. While Willie Obiano emerged for APGA and Tony Nwoye for PDP, the noble likes of Hon. John Emeka, Dr. Chike Obidigbo, Dr. Alex Obiogbolu, Patrick Obianwu, Chinedu Idigo, Emma Nweke, Paul Odenigbo, Emma Anosike and yours truly, laid bare the assumptions that Anambra north could not rise to the challenge. Any of these candidates, would any where and any day, stand firmly against the very best gubernatorial competitors from Anambra south and central senatorial districts. No questions asked!

Thankfully, there are many well-meaning people from the south and central senatorial zones that support our cause, our dear Gov. Peter Obi, being a leading example. In the fullness of time, everyone will have to account for their political stand, since the issue at hand is both moral and constitutional. Such rotational issues are topical in Delta, Enugu, Abia, Akwa Ibom and Lagos state.

It remains a paradox, therefore, that those who say the governorship slot cannot be ceded to Anambra North in 2014 since there is no zoning, are the first to advocate that the Nigerian Presidency should be ceded to the Igbo nation in 2015. As I see it, the quest to bring the governorship to Anambra North is now a sacred mission for the people of the North. The Anambra electorate must thus vote accordingly come16 November 2013.

What indeed we look for in the next leader for Anambra, is someone who will take the state from good to great. The leaders zonal origin, pedigree and political sophistication ought not to be an issue, so long as in the words of Charles A. Beard, he is someone "who divines the long future, foresees the place of his class and nation in it, labour(s)intelligently to prepare their countrymen for their fate, combines courage with discretion, takes risks, exercises caution when it is necessary, and goes off the stage with a reasonable degree of respectability." Anambra north can boast of such a few good men. Hence, Anambra North and their elected choice, Chief Willie Obiano must be given the opportunity to tender their provenance.


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Articles by Mazi Oderaigbo