2023: Zoning debate tearing Enugu brothers apart – Group

As the controversy over the zoning of governorship position continues to rage in Enugu State, a group, Enugu Rebirth, a socio-political organisation, has declared that any part of the State is free to produce Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s successor.

It also said zoning should not decide State and National Assembly positions.

The statement made available to BBNAIJA ONLINE” was signed by Hon. Chuka Eze, Director-General, Enugu Rebirth.

He said the group’s worry “stems chiefly from the desperate early efforts being orchestrated by politicians and aspiring political office holders to take positions on who occupies which elective office in 2023 at the expense of the development of the state and its people.”

He added that “these political actors have splintered Enugu State into several imaginary rotary political zones, with varying permutations, all designed to whip up sectional emotions about which zone it should be their turn to produce the next governor of the state. That these efforts, rather than heal, has been fracturing the state, breeding hate, distrust and unhealthy political entitlement is only saying it lightly.”

While taking a stand against zoning, the group said a review of the journey of Enugu State in the area of social, political and economic development since the dawn of democracy in 1999, showed that “the good people of Enugu State have not benefited in measurable, tangible terms from the so-called zoning of elective political offices.”

“We note with deep regret that our people have, through years of mind manipulation, been made to believe that the values and benefits of democratic rule begins and ends with having someone from their community, town, local government area and senatorial zone, occupying a sensitive political office, whether elected or appointed. The more the people from one zone win government positions, the higher their perceived political weight at the detriment of others not so privileged.

“For the incontrovertible reasons provided above, and for other justifications that will follow, we make bold to state that for the 2023 Gubernatorial, House of Assembly and National Assembly elections in the state, the good people of Enugu State should reject unequivocally any form of zoning. Since this so-called zoning idea was introduced in the state in 1999, competence, capacity and even knowledge of the needs of the people and the means to ensure the people are given enduring developmental values, have been discarded, replaced by the seasonal dominance of one perceived zone over the others.

“The convenient argument in favour of this contrived zoning appears to have either been overrated or not properly weighted against its demerits by those who are trying to entrench it in our political culture.

“While this arrangement may make the people whose representative has been given a high elective or nominative office feel that sense of psychological satisfaction and bragging rights for the office their kinsman occupies on their behalf, nothing in this nepotistic measurement criteria suggests that any economic and social benefits will find a pipeline to solve the everyday problems and challenges of the people.

“What this divisive zoning has done to Enugu State since the dawn of democracy in 1999 can be measured in the devastating psychological impacts it has had on the relationships between and among the people of the state.

“Only a few years ago, the people of Enugu State were crying with one voice, agitating for the creation of Wawa State. During this period, parts of the propositions to justify the creation of the state was the historical cultural similarities of the people. The entire Enugu people used to be one closely-knit cultural and social unit. But the dangerous infiltration of political actors has succeeded in fracturing the people into discordant political camps, all at one another’s throats.

“The perceived zoning arrangement has brought us to a situation where the emotional distance between the person from Ugwogo Nike, and that of the man from Agu Ekwegbe, two communities with a common boundary, has become wider than that between a man from Sokoto and his brother from Maiduguri. Enugu State has become fractured and our people are being misled to emphasise what they have been made to see as their differences at a time we should be talking of coming together to unleash the immense economic power of the state.

“We are aware of the emergence of small nationalities within the state, with contrived efforts to highlight the differences between an Nkanu man and the Nsukka man; between the Udi man and the Nkanu man and between the Udi man and the Nsukka man.

“To make this even more disheartening, even in the so-called Nkanu land, the Agbani man and his brother from Amaechi are struggling to live together, while in the Nsukka zone, there is also this tension between those who wish to draw the difference Nsukka people and those they classify as Ojobogene.

“Enugu Rebirth advocates for the return to a united Enugu State anchored on equity, love, trust and collective drive to work towards the manifestation of our shared prosperity for the good of all.

“The desperation to entrench zoning of political offices has denied us the opportunities of presenting our Best Eleven in leadership.

More importantly is the need to democratize the leadership selection process to enable the masses play a role in who emerges as the candidate for governorship, member of the House of Assembly and other elective positions.

“The people of Enugu State, on their own, want and need a leader that will embrace the entire state as one constituency. This cannot be possible through zoning, because primarily, the centrifugal undertone behind such convenient political selection processes is that it impels the candidate to see himself as responsible to the zone whose turn he is benefiting from, thereby creating unhealthy cycles of bottled-up hatred that is only unleashed when power shifts,” the group further stated.