Enugu 2023: Ugwuanyi’s Senatorial Aspiration And The Duplicity Of Zoning Mantra

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BY OGBUEFI ARTHUR OKOLIE

According to a statement released on Sunday by the Media Desk of the Office of the Governor of Enugu State, it was “Jubilation in Nsukka as Utazi declines Senatorial ambition in support of Governor Ugwuanyi’s bid”.

As per the statement, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, while addressing Enugu North delegates in the forthcoming Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primary elections as well as party stakeholders, predicated his decision not to purchase PDP’s expression of interest and nomination forms on the need to “pave way for the smooth and peaceful emergence of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in the 10th National Assembly”.

Needless to dissipate space and time over whether the people were truly jubilating as claimed or being coaxed or whether Utazi had simply served out his two terms like his predecessors in line with the existing rotation/zoning arrangement in the zone, the statement achieved two things: One, it put paid to the pretences over whether or not Ugwuanyi will run for the Senate and it unraveled the duplicity in the entire governorship zoning campaign in Enugu State.

It is common knowledge that the Enugu North senatorial seat rotates among the three Federal Constituencies that make up the district, namely, Nsukka/Igboeze South, Igboeze North/Udenu, and Igbo-Etiti/Uzo Uwani. Nsukka/Igbo Eze South Federal Constituency took the first slot through the late Senator Fidelis Okoro from 1999 to 2007. Senator Ayogu Eze took the turn of Igboeze North/Udenu from 2007 to 2015. Senator Chuka Utazi took the turn of Igbo-Etiti/Uzo-Uwani in 2015 and will conclude in 2023. Consequently, the senatorial seat has fully rotated.

It is no longer a secret that Ugwuanyi favours the Enugu East district to produce his successor. Ugwuanyi’s supporters and zoning choir insist that Enugu’s Governorship seat, having gone round, should restart from Enugu East where it began in 1999. Ironically, for the Enugu North senatorial seat, they conversely argue that since it has gone round the three Federal Constituencies, it could actually start from anywhere.

Unfortunately, this attempt to truncate the existing zoning arrangement in Enugu North is creating bad blood and crisis, and outright brawls because Hon. Pat Asadu, a fourth term ranking Member of the House of Representatives and one of the hitherto formidable hopefuls to succeed Senator Utazi to that senatorial seat in 2023, has picked PDP forms to return to the House of Representatives for a fifth term allegedly based on a deal struck with the Ugwuanyi so the Governor could enjoy a smooth sail to the Senate at the expense of Igboeze South LGA, whose turn it is to produce the next senator.

Also, having done four straight terms in the House, equity demands that Asadu, who hails from Igboeze South, yields the seat to Nsukka LGA with which Igboeze South shares the Federal Constituency. Every Dick and Harry knows that this decision to trade off the senatorial seat that should go to Igboeze South and continue to occupy the Nsukka/Igboeze South Federal Constituency that should rightly be occupied by Nsukka LGA in 2023 is at the heart of the crisis currently rocking that Federal Constituency and the larger Enugu North zone.

This includes the bloody fracas that broke out at the last monthly meeting of the Nsukka LGA chapter of the PDP, as trans-state thugs confronted some youth, who insisted that Asadu must not address the meeting because he would never be allowed to take what belonged to Nsukka LGA.

Meanwhile, perhaps the greatest beneficiary of Ugwuanyi’s decision to truncate the existing zoning/rotation arrangement in the Enugu North district is Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who has been at the receiving end of contrived zoning propaganda to put him out of the 2023 governorship equation because it is clear to all that it was about equity, but about interest. Since they had no other story to tell the people in terms of capacity, accomplishments, and loyalty to the party, they concocted the zoning mantra to take the rug off his feet. But the man has refused to be pushed over.

Furthermore, since Ugwuanyi had done 12 straight years in the House of Representatives from 2003 to 2015), doing eight years as a governor, and still seeking to go to the Senate, even at the expense of Igboeze South LGA, the propaganda by his supporters that Ekweremadu has stayed long in government and should therefore retire has become as empty as it is hypocritical.

Besides, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani did eight years as governor and is currently going into his eighth year as senator. Yet he was the first person from the Enugu East zone to pick PDP’s forms to return to the senate in 2023.

Asadu is gearing up for a fifth term in the House of Representatives too. Likewise, other lead singers in the Ugwuanyi’s governorship zoning choir are also seeking to perpetuate themselves in power. Most State House of Assembly Members are being returned in exchange for support for Ugwuanyi’s efforts to anoint his successor from the East senatorial district. The House of Assembly Speaker, Hon. Edward Ubosi, has bought forms to return to the Assembly for the 4th term. His uncle, Hon. Cornelius Nnaji, has equally bought form to return to the House of Representatives. Hon. Chima Obieze is seeking a third consecutive term in State Assembly against Ezeagu’s long-established zoning tradition. Senator Ben-Collins Ndu, wants to return from political retirement to the Senate too. But only one man deserves to be retired: Ike Ekweremadu.

The doctrine of “Clean hands” is one of the eternal doctrines of Law. It is founded on the dictum of equity, which states that one “who comes into equity must come with clean hands.” This doctrine requires the court to deny equitable relief to a party, who has violated good faith with respect to the subject of the claim.

That is as far as it goes in Law. But in politics, the doctrine of clean hands can be summed as that unwritten, but ethical code that frowns at duplicity, double standards, and simultaneous probating and reprobating.

Even the dumbest person in Enugu now knows that all the zoning noise, the rallies, publications, and forced and procured endorsements were just meant to stop just one man and pave way for the Governor’s anointed one. Otherwise, Governor Ugwuanyi could not be upturning an established power rotation order in his Enugu North senatorial zone and be promoting an inexistent governorship zoning order at the Enugu centre. Does zoning start and end with the governorship seat? That is the irony and duplicity of Enugu’s governorship zoning mantra. Those who come to equity must be reminded that they need to come with clean hands.
•Ogbuefi Okolie writes from Enugu

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