Enugu APC may jettison zoning in 2023 — Nwoye

Posted by News Express | 14 April 2021 | 834 times

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•Dr Ben Nwoye


Dr Ben Nwoye is the Caretaker Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Enugu State. In this interview, he speaks on 2023 governorship election in the state, why APC may not decide its governorship candidate on the basis of zoning, among others. KENNETH OFOMA reports

Tell us what you feel about the rising campaigns for 2023 and controversy surrounding zoning of offices in the state?

A day or two ago, we saw the goings-on in Enugu State within the political realm. We saw leaders of thought in the state holding symposiums, organizing mini rallies, discussing 2023 elections and which geopolitical zones are entitled to hold the helms of affair. As chairman of APC, I thought it wise to state categorically that governance stops when politics begins. We have responsibilities as politicians and as leaders to understand that when someone is elected they should be allowed the airspace to run their government so that those who have political ambition, no matter how big or small have to learn to exercise patients. Our constitutional democracy recommends four years.

The same constitutional democracy allows INEC to take charge as to when electioneering commences. So, it would be a breach of electoral law for people to launch political campaigns under any guise be it socio-cultural group or any group because our system is a product of law. And so no matter how highly placed one maybe we all owe it as a duty to operate within the confines of the law. So those who are organizing symposium, mini-rallies under any guise or disguise have to understand that the average citizen of Enugu State today is worried about the next meal.

The average petty trader is worried about what will be the fate of their small shop, the average Keke rider is worried about where he or she can pick a fair after a certain time was recommended by the government without being arrested and charged for operating beyond the time.

The average student is worried about whether he or she will graduate within the period prescribed by the university or the institution’s academic calendar without interruption by academic or non-academic staff based on the inability of the government to pay their salary or to meet basic demands necessity for educational processes. The average civil servant is worried about the next salary whether they will be paid on time or they will be paid in arrears. These are the concerns of the average people.

These people are not worried about whether 2023 will become or those who will handle the affairs of 2023 leadership in Enugu state from North, East or West. The governance of this state and this country are yet to address these issues. The average youth who is a graduate and serving this nation is worried about what will happen after service; is he/she going back home to his/her parents to become a burden.

These are the worries of an average graduate. They don’t wake up and engage in a war of subethnic divisions of who is of Nsukka origin and who is of the Enugu origin. They don’t wake up to think about where will the power revolve, whether a person or an unknown person, unknown character of Enugu North or Enugu West or Enugu East will become the next governor of Enugu state.

But politicians will always be politicians, what do you think the politicians should do?

I’m begging the leaders of Enugu, the political gladiators and political activists who are taking turns and trying to stir up and heat up the polity to slow down a bit and let’s look at our society as it is presently constituted. It saddens me that in all of those theatres of political activism, that I didn’t hear for a moment or witness for a moment, a moment of silence for our brothers and sisters who were brutally murdered in our neighbouring state for no other reason other than hatred, the man inhumanity to man. This was not addressed in any of the monologue or dialogue they have put together.

What’s your position about the zoning controversy?

We have to draw from history so that the facts will be straight. Nobody in the history of Enugu State has ever been prevented from contesting a position they are qualified to contest because they come from one zone or the other. In the second republic, let’s just start from there; Jim Nwodobo did not become the governor of old Anambra State because he happened to be of Enugu extraction and specifically of Nkanu nation.

The old Anambra people elected him because he had the intellectual capacity and vision. And he took the mission and within four years he was able to put up universities and build up industries that employed youths. He put up a radio house and television station; he built roads, social infrastructures within four years.

He did that because he had a vision and the mission to accomplish it and the people voted for him. After Jim Nwobodo we had Chief C. C. Onoh of Udi extraction under the NPN as governor of old Anambra State as well. And he did not become governor because he was of the Enugu in the old Anambra, but he had the capacity, he had the vision and he engaged in the mission and he got it.

Though his term was interrupted, we didn’t know what it could have been. Fast-forward to 1999, nobody stopped anyone from contesting when Chimaroke, in fact before then; 1993, when our ex-governor Okwesilieze Nwodo took over, no group of stakeholders took him and made him a governor because he was from Nsukka extraction, no; it was based on his mission and vision, it was based on his ability. Other people who contested failed because they couldn’t; they didn’t have what it took. The Enugu people rejected other candidates because they had options.

In 1999 when Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani came back from the United States to become governor because he had a vision and he knew what to do. There were other contestants from Nsukka extraction, from Greater Awgu, from Agbaja. It was a contest, he did not run unopposed, and there were no group of intellectuals that took on to discuss issues of zoning. Enugu people decided that their governor was Chimaroke Nnamani. And Chimaroke Nnamani, history will bless him because he lived up to expectation. He redefined governance and leadership in Enugu State.

Through his political leadership, Ebeano political family was born. In today’s Enugu almost everyone in government in one way or another has been a product of Ebeano including the sitting governor. From councillors to senators, he was able to make Agbani a new modern city, the second city. He was able to attract law school, he was able to attract the teaching hospital and many other things he did. That did not stop other politicians to aspire, by 2003, he did not run unopposed. We had people from Enugu North senatorial district and Enugu West that ran against him. Then 2007, history has it, nobody zoned it to Sullivan Chime, he contested and won. And it was not an unopposed election. People went to court, unfortunately, some of the individuals talking about this issue took the matter all the way to Appeal Court.

In 2011, we had contestants from the Nsukka zone, from Greater Awgu to replace Sullivan Chime; no group of stakeholders stopped anybody from aspiring. In 2015, the same thing applied, we had contestants from the Greater Awgu zone and even multiple contestants from the Enugu North, from different parts of the Nsukka. His Excellency Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi was elected by the Enugu people.

He was not an appointed governor. He was not elected because he was from Udenu, he was not elected because he was from Nsukka, and he was elected because the majority of average Enugu person found him to be the most suitable candidate to win. In 2019, we had people contesting even from Nkanu land, Greater Awgu, and of course Nsukka.

There was no meeting where anyone was stopped from contesting against His Excellency Dr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi. And he beat his closest opponent decisively much to my own personal dismay, it was my party that presented the biggest opposition against him. But after that election, after his closest contestant withdrew his case from court, as politician I took it that politics stops, governance begins so that Enugu people can hold Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi accountable for the remainder of his four years term. He has not been in office for up to two years, people are gathering to stir the political system up, cause confusion, cause trouble for their own personal political achievement, nothing more; because nobody is standing against anybody from running. Let’s fast forward to 2023, nobody knows who will be alive to contest. But the good news is that the good people of Enugu State are very much alert politically.

Are you saying that zoning will not be considered in Enugu in 2023?

The next governor of Enugu State will not be chosen by zoning, it will not be based on your ethnic belonging or sub-ethnic nationality. It will not be based on your local government; it will be based on your ability, experience and exposure. It will be based on a programme. Can you fix the problem of Enugu State? Enugu people will be wise enough to ask basic questions.

It will not be a time for people to say it’s our turn. As the chairman of APC in Enugu, my advice is that they should put together their programme, they should put together what they will do for Enugu people and when 2023 comes, Enugu people will examine both their ability to carry out the programme and the programme itself and Enugu people will decide.

It will not be by grandstanding or making of flamboyant statements to please those who have come out in a public square to be entertained. Governance is a serious business. Once elected, he is the governor of Enugu State. The governor belongs to all Enugu people. He is the father of the state and has the responsibility to provide for entire Enugu citizens and to protect the entire Enugu people. (New Telegraph)


Source: News Express

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