2023: Of Enugu Governorship and Ugwuanyi’s Annointed Successor
Ahead of the 2023 general elections in Nigeria, the most burning issue in some states of the federation, especially, in the South-East has been how the successors of state governors serving out their second terms in office will emerge.
Progressive minded politicians and political analysts have spoken in favour of subsisting unwritten agreement on power rotation between the various constituent zones of states to ensure inclusivity, justice and equity.
In Enugu State, the situation is not different. Since the return to democratic governance in 1999, power has seamlessly rotated among the three senatorial zones in the state, namely – Enugu East, Enugu West and now Enugu North in that order.
Political analysts, politicians and indeed popular opinion are in favour of power returning to Enugu East Senatorial District where it started in 1999 as it has gone full cycle.
Expectedly, many aspirants across party lines from the respective zones have either officially joined the race to the Lion Building, as the Enugu State Government House is called, or informally indicated their interest to succeed the incumbent governor, Rt. Hon. (Dr.) Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
In the midst of the intrigues and power play surrounding who takes the mantle of leadership come 2023, Gov. Ugwuanyi in his characteristic manner has kept sealed lips.
However, it is an open secret that the governor has since settled for and annointed his first cousin, Chief Chijioke Edeoga from Isi-Uzo Local Government Area as his successor.
Chief Edeoga recently resigned from his position as commissioner for environment in order to pursue this ambition.
Meanwhile, the questions agitating the minds of political analysts in the state and beyond are: why would a governor prefer to hand over power to his cousin? Has the governance of a state like Enugu, the heartbeat of Igbo nation turned to family business? Why would a governor from Nsukka Cultural Zone in Enugu North Senatorial District prefer to hand over power to someone from Isi-Uzo that also falls under Nsukka Cultural Zone?
It is a fact that Isi-Uzo LGA which is currently one of the local councils in Enugu East Senatorial District was among the initial two creations that made up the Old Nsukka Zone in the pre-colonial period.
Furthermore, prior to 1999, Isi-Uzo belonged to Nsukka geopolitical and cultural zone until 1996 when the area was ceded to Enugu East Senatorial District for administrative convenience after the creation of Enugu State.
For emphasis sake, prominent politicians from Isi-Uzo, namely, Chief Samuel Nwaro and Chief Isaiah Ani had represented Nsukka Zone in the then National Unicameral Legislature in Lagos in the first republic and as Senator representing Nsukka Zone from 1976 to 1983 respectively. This underscores the active roles played by Isi-Uzo in Nsukka Cultural Zone.
There is no gainsaying the fact that the ongoing plot for Edeoga to succeed Gov. Ugwuanyi is a deliberate plot for Nsukka Cultural Zone to remain in the governorship seat.
It is also a plot to continue the clannish tendencies of the current administration in the state made manifest in lopsided employments, juicy placements in civil and public service, political appointments and infrastructural development which seem to have taken roots in the state since 2015.
Suffice it to say that over 80 development projects executed under the current administration in the state are located in Nsukka Zone.
It is unimaginable how Gov. Ugwuanyi would seek to reduce the governance of an important state like Enugu to a family affair.
Granted that it is the constitutional right of Edeoga to vie for any elective position in the state, why the governorship position at this time? Is there something that the members of the public do not know about this administration? Well, time shall tell!
One would have thought that the governor will learn from the experiences of Sen. Rochas Okorocha, the former governor of Imo State who tried in vain to get his son-in-law, Mr Uche Nowsu to succeed him.
This same plot aimed at tying Enugu State to the apron-strings of one family will only succeed if residents of the state allow it.
Just as the saying goes: “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”, it is interesting to note that this plot has already elicited widespread condemnation across the state.
Some political analysts are already predicting doom for the PDP in the governorship poll in 2023 if such decision is not rescinded and a more acceptable and credible candidate from core Enugu East Senatorial District fielded.
It is now left for power brokers in the PDP to in the interest of the party, eschew sentiments and stop this charade in order to save the party from possible implosion and ultimate defeat in the 2023 governorship election in the state. A stitch in time saves nine.
Kingsley Chukwuebuka Onah writes from Enugu
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