Anambra 2021 governorship election promises to be like none other for many reasons. As always, it shall be star-studded. But that is not what will make the forthcoming election unique.
Anambra has always been refreshingly different in its elections since the return to democracy in 1999. Remarkably, there is so much money, flurry and furry but no blood. To the best of my knowledge, no matter the heat generated in the fierce contests and the crossfires, nobody has ever died because of the governorship election in Anambra State. This is a good testament and a proof of sagacity of the political actors in the State.
Nonetheless, the reason the clean sheet has been kept by the State is mainly because the leaders and the elders used zoning and rotation of governor in the State to reduce the latitude for confusion and conflict to the barest minimum. Also, through this noble approach, all three senatorial districts have seamlessly produced governors for the State in the current democratic dispensation. That Anambra State is now rapidly growing into a One-City State is thanks to zoning and rotation of power. Since all the three senatorial districts have been able to produce good governors, each took care of their zones’ developmental needs.
Now, there is a strong reflux current pushing from within and outside the State to truncate the beautiful zoning and rotation arrangement. These forces are insisting that the office of governor should be up for grabs by whoever can get it. For refreshing and clarity, Their Excellencies Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju (Anambra South), Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige and Mr. Peter Gregory Obi (Anambra Central) and currently Chief Willie Obiano (Anambra North) have all governed Anambra State in that order and it is the turn of Anambra South yet again after 17 years of waiting in the wing. The second time the South produced the governor in the person of Dr. Andy Uba was equally cut short by the courts after a spell of just 17 days.
Those propagating this inglorious reversal do so essentially for their belle and greed. For some aspirants, they cannot wait for the turn of their zones. For most career politicians, politics is business as they do not have a second business address. So, asking them to wait for one or two election seasons to push aspirants and candidates, including those they know, have outside chances yet cajole them into the race, is unendurable. Election to them is as Christmas season is to traders. It is a bazaar of sorts and an occasional opportunity to push out as many aspirants as possible. They do so not so much for their belief in their chances but for the pecuniary interests. They see election season as the only time they can extract money from the politicians and the opportunity has to be maximized, which zoning and rotation may not allow.
At the political season, the aspirants are hosted where they dole out money to persons considered to be critical stakeholders and to groups considered vital in their calculations for the illusory victory. The candidates therefore lust and pay for the endorsements that mostly worth nothing beyond the razzmatazz and getting known.
Among each group, the aspirant is assured of support and victory with the exclamation, ‘ijebe go o!’ i.e. victory is sure. They also sing a song to each candidate without exception, a mock refrain really, ‘Candidate ka anyi ga esoo, ma ona ejeje ma ona anana, candidate ka anyi ga eso.’ The candidate we shall follow, swim or sink. If you believe them, you believe anything.
The funny thing is that these song and acclamation are rendered to each aspirant who shows up and it is for the same election and for the same position. Despite the assurances and huge sums collected, many of these candidates score zero votes in countless instances. You then wonder whatever happened to the assurances so generously given while aspirants were seeking endorsements and candidates canvassing for votes.
This is the bazaar some people want Anambra to return to. Surreptitiously, the opponents of continued rotation and zoning in Anambra argue that zoning shunts out the best. Yet the fact is: the State has witnessed governorship elections for three seasons this time around and nobody can point to one exceptional prospect that has ever been shunted out by rotation that Anambra so missed. Not even a seeming dark horse can be recalled. It is just that narrowing it down to a zone would reduce the number of aspirants that will take their turns in dropping money for fake support and endorsement.
For stomach infrastructure (apologies Peter Ayodele Fayose) these political jobbers want to rubbish the zoning arrangement and do away with its beautiful gains. But by divine providence, the likely key stars in the forthcoming guber election are mostly coming from the same Anambra South. Here are some of them, each capable of taking Anambra State to the next level. Men like (in alphabetical order following surnames): Dr. Godwin Maduka (one of the top 10 medical doctors in the US and philanthropist), Prof. Chukwuma Soludo(former CBN governor, top technocrat and presidential economic adviser), Sen. Ifeanyi Ubah (a serving senator, business mogul and oil magnate), Sen. Andy Ubah (a former presidential aide and 3-time senator), Dr. Ifedi Okwenna(a former commissioner, an environmental expert and an astute administrator), Valentine Ozigbo (a whiz kid and President of Transcorp group) and others. It is a divine providence that they are all from Anambra South if you ask me.
But for the intrigues and shenanigans of such persons, what equity demands now is for Anambra governor to come from Anambra South in 2021, in the spirit of zoning and rotation through which the past and current governors of the State had emerged. Apart from the fact that South Senatorial District produced governor who left office since 17 years ago, the zone has the least number of years in office with Mbadinuju who did only a 4-year tenure compared to Central and North which were there for 11 years and 8 years, respectively.
Anambra is the gateway to the South East and blessed with abundant and uncommon human and material resources. It is very crucial that Anambra should get its acts right and show an example to the rest of the South East and possibly to the country at large.
Rotation is a democratic process (based on concession and agreement) that has ensured political inclusivity and reduced the rancour associated with elections as well as cut down costs of electioneering by narrowing candidature to a particular zone in each election circle. Leaving governorship election as an all-comers affair in Anambra State particularly can only create an avenue for the kind of confusion and conflict happening in other many States. One other major advantage of zoning and rotation is that it enhances the act of choosing credible candidates devoid of sectional sentiments. One, therefore, once more, calls on all political parties to respect the popular opinion of Anambra people by adopting the present zoning arrangement, which clearly favours the South Senatorial District for 2021 governorship election.
The way the current democratic dispensation is structured and with the complete absence of internal party democracy, all-comers election has never helped any State. It leaves so much bad blood and allows so much manipulation, which weeds out the choice of the people. In the end, the courts are left to select who the governor is, as was the case in Imo State otherwise known as Emeka Ihedioha vs. Hope Uzodinma.
Anambra should not trade off the peace and development the State has so far enjoyed for the selfish desire of a few politicians by allowing itself to return to this bad path. Sticking to zoning and rotation will help the State avoid receiving things that are hitherto alien to Anambra election and politics.
Desperadoes have caused shipwrecks in many States where governorship elections are left to the highest bidder as some are wishing Anambra. May wisdom eventually prevail for Anambra State to remain the light of the nation and example to all.
• Dr. Law Mefor is from Anambra Central and an Abuja based Forensic/Social Psychologist and Journalist; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org