No doubt the zoning system which was popularized by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has brought peace in the politics of Enugu State.
Once a position is zoned to a particular area, the selection process and headache is reduced to the barest minimum.
The conflicts, the horse trading, the tussles, political sabotage, manipulation, extortions and backbiting-all features of political contest become almost eliminated.
This has worked for Enugu from the days of Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani to Barr. Sullivan Chime. In 2015 the guber position was zoned to Enugu North-Nsukka, which threw up the current Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
The list of aspirants was lengthy and was growing until the pronouncement was made. It was to go to Nsukka. Within the Zone, meetings were held and soon a candidate emerged.
It worked like magic and Enugu had a very peaceful election.
Ahead the 2023 election, the issue of zoning has come up again. This time it is the ambition of a single individual that wants to throw spanners in the wheels.
Senator Ike Ekweremadu’s ambition for the number one position in the state is threatening to disorganize the zoning system.
Many have spoken the gains of maintaining the zoning system which centres around reducing the friction, rancour, tension and possible crisis that would naturally spring up an open contest.
Yet, the supporters of Ike Ekweremadu have continued to push against zoning.
But come to think of it, which of the three zones needs zoning more. The answer is very simple- Enugu West Zone.
His Senatorial zone, Enugu West has the least number of voters in the State, while Enugu North senatorial zone has the highest number of voters in the state. From the voters register of 2019 general elections, votes from Nsukka, Udenu, Igbo-South and Igbo North local government areas in Enugu North senatorial zone are more than the total votes of Enugu West Senatorial zone yet they have allowed the interest of one man to becloud their sense of reasoning.
Someone should remind them that they are the minority amongst the three zones. Rt Hon Chima Obieze member representing Ezeagu Constituency and Chairman House Committee on Works tried to do that, when he said “It is in the interest of the people of Ezeagu and indeed Enugu West that the zoning and rotation be maintained. We know how the votes in Enugu State are returned. We know the zones that have majority votes and those that have far less. Should we jettison this peaceful arrangement, who knows, a particular zone can produce governors back to back for decades.”
The other two zones have six Local Government Areas while they are left with five.
Statistics from past election have also exposed their poor voting power which appears very insignificant in deciding results of election in the State.
So, in the actual sense, it is Enugu West Zone that needs zoning. Ironically they are the people making trouble against the rest of the state.
What happens in a situation where the people of Enugu East and Nsukka zones join hand with their numerical strength and voting power?
Such an alliance will bury Enugu West politically. Yet, the ambition of one man have hindered their vision, and perception of the real situation.
The people of Nkanu have boldly said that nobody can stand on their way to the guber position, because it’s their turn.
They have also agreed to fight their battle whether or not the zoning is maintained.
Should this be the case, I think the West is trying to box itself in a position they are bound to regret because, they don’t have what it takes to fight the institution which established zoning in the state.
I write because I care for the people of Enugu West. I write because one person is about to mortgage their future because of his insatiable ambition, I weep for the unborn generation of Enugu West that will partake from this suicide mission.
Richard writes from Oxford