Ebonyi @ 24: The Roundtable Beckons On Our Conscience.

By Monday Eze

Beyond similarity in duration, the journey of Ebonyi founding fathers for the creation of Ebonyi State was every inch tougher than the Jewish exodus from Egypt. Ebonyi founders had neither pillars of cloud to guide them in the day, nor pillars of light to guide them in the dark nights. There were no manna and quails to assuage their hunger; nor water from rocks to quench their thirst. Ebonyi founders were simply driven by their stark but unflinching faith in God, conscientious commitment to the common good and their desire to bequeath a free and egalitarian society with unlimited opportunities to their succeeding generations. For 39 solid years, Ebonyi founders journeyed through the wilderness of sacrificial agitation for self-determination encapsulated in the quest for the creation of Ebonyi State without minding the danger the quest posed to their comfort, limbs and lives. This impeccable and undiluted sacrificial investment was rewarded by God through the government of Gen. Sani Abacha, a hero whom Ebonyi people have refused to sing, on 1st October, 1996!

The fortuitous nature of the creation fiat did not permit the founding fathers of Ebonyi State to conclude deliberations on the choice of the capital and the rotation of power among the component senatorial districts of the proposed State. For obvious reasons, the creation fiat of Ebonyi State proclaimed the old provincial capital town of Abakaliki as capital of Ebonyi State while power rotation which was not important in the regimented setting under which Ebonyi State was created was not addressed. This lacunae was negatively exploited by the agents of the military who chaperoned democracy in Ebonyi State in 1999 to initiate and foist a power rotation sequence which was contrary to or inconsistent with the religions, culture, conventions and conscience of Ebonyi people. This strange and unfortunate power rotation sequence which has rounded off its turbulent tour of the three senatorial districts of Ebonyi State is inequitable and has made Ebonyi polity highly inflammatory; and elections subject to private expediencies, very expensive and conscienceless. The result is that for the six times that gubernatorial elections have taken place in the history of Ebonyi State, all the senatorial districts have always laid claims to the plum position and followed the claims up by contesting each of the elections. Oftentimes, Ebonyi guber contestants aligned with and compromised Ebonyi people's collective interests to neo-colonial forces. This has led to the drift of Ebonyi State towards neo-colonialism to the point that people of other states gloat over the making of Ebonyi governors with open champagne pops!

Ahead of the approaching 2023 gubernatorial election, the confusion arising from the jackboot power rotation sequence in Ebonyi State is not abating. Ezza Ezekuna clan of Ebonyi Central are laying exclusive claim to the gubernatorial seat on grounds of being the undisputable eldest clan and scion of Ebonyi State who apart from leading the struggle for the creation of Ebonyi State equally holds records of the greatest investments or sacrifices for the common good of Ebonyi State before, during the struggle for creation and after the creation of the state. Specifically, Ezza Ezekuna was the only major clan in Ebonyi State who fought wars in defence of minority clans at Effium, Ezillo, Umuhuali et cetera before the creation of Ebonyi State. Ezza Ezekuna people have no history of forceful conquest. The presenter of the formal request for the creation of Ebonyi State, Sen. Offiah Nwali; the highest donor in fund-raising drive of the Movement for the Creation of Ebonyi State, Chief Samuel Okohu; and the unsung martyr of Ebonyi creation struggle, Monday Umanyi, were all from Ezza Ezekuna clan. In the contention of Ezza Ezekuna clan, supplanting or ignoring the scion, firstborn or eldest son of any given family or society in the administration of patrimonies as well as powers, privileges and liabilities arising therefrom is fundamentally irreligious, unconventional, conscienceless and inconsistent with the culture of Ebonyi people which they enforce daily by honouring their elders/scions in their homes, places of worship and society. Izzi Nnodo clan and the rest of Ebonyi North district of Ebonyi State is equally laying claim to the guber position based on the existing power rotation sequence which began its turbulent journey from Ebonyi North. Having gone through Ebonyi Central to Ebonyi South, Izzi Nnodo believes that the second round of the rotation should begin with them. Izzi Nnodo people also contend that they provided the land for the state capital and other projects. This latter ground of Izzi claim is punctured by the fact that the radius of Abakaliki capital territory spans through Ezza Ezekuna land to other parts of Ebonyi Central senatorial district. Ebonyi Southerners, especially Ehugbo Omaka Ejali people of Afikpo North LGA are also part of the contention for the 2023 gubernatorial position of Ebonyi State. Ehugho people insist that given the role of their son, Akanu Ibiam, whose towering goodwill significantly served as the ultimate fillip for the creation of Ebonyi State; and their role as the administrative capital of Ebonyi South district, it is only proper for the second round of the existing power rotation sequence to begin with Afikpo!

The inflammatory controversies, drift to neo-colonialism and gradual irrelevance of Ebonyi people to the choice or making of their governors which have continued to characterize the current power rotation sequence in Ebonyi State prove that the existing power rotation sequence is faulty, unacceptable and deserves to be changed. Furthermore, the fact that the institution of the existing power rotation sequence lacks Ebonyi people's wilful and Ebonyi autochthonous content makes it extrenous and undemocratic. All these and more make the convocation of the maiden Ebonyi Political Summit a compelling necessity which should hold to put in place an orderly, conscientious, religious, autochtonous and people-centred power rotation plan or Ebonyi Charter of Equity ahead of the 2023 gubernatorial election. At 24, the roundtable beckons on the conscience of the present generation of Ebonyi people to tie up the only end inadvertently left open in the foundation of Ebonyi State as laid by Ebonyi founding fathers. This is a challenge which demands courage and can only be ignored by this present generation of Ebonyi people at the risk of qualifying to be rightly labeled cowards. I publish this essay inspite of a galaxy of subliminal threats to my limbs and life; and I make bold to say that whether Ebonyi Political Summit is allowed to happen or not, this essay exonerates many Ebonyi citizens of conscience, courage and goodwill who support the idea of the compelling summit from the undignifying and negative labels and stigmas of cowardice and a failed generation.

Congratulations to Ebonyi State and her people at 24!