From Felix Ikem, Nsukka
As the preparation for 2023 general elections gathers momentum, a socio-cultural group whose membership is drawn from the six local government areas in Enugu North Senatorial zone has expressed their support for zoning formula in the state and gubernatorial candidate from Enugu East Senatorial zone.
The group under the aegis of ”Nsukka Ezuo” also stated that their goal is to enhance the discourse on peace, stability, and the forthcoming transition in the state along the vision established by Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, the state governor.
In a communiqué issued on Monday by the group at the end of their meeting in Nsukka, tagged; “Our Stand On The Current Zoning Formula In Enugu State,” jointly signed by Prof Damian Opata and Hon Chineme Onyeke, chairman and Director General political affairs of the group respectively.
They said that they are solidly behind the governor’s quest for peaceful transition and support the current zoning formula in the state,
They noted that Ugwuanyi’s administration has brought tremendous peace, stability, and monumental strides in the overall development of the state which they said has positively manifested in human welfare and infrastructural dimensions.
They also cautioned against attempt to frustrate the zoning policy in the state by some desperate politician.
The communiqué partly read thus, “Nsukka Ezue stand by our Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in his attempt to ensure a seamless and peaceful transition in Enugu State.
“That we strongly support the current zoning formula in Enugu state, as has been the practice in the state since 1999.
“We therefore strongly canvass the idea that the next Governor of Enugu state should come from Enugu East Senatorial District.
“We call on the Governor to engage the stakeholders in Enugu
East Senatorial District to ensure equity in the choice of a candidate,” they said.
The communiqué said further that the governor should encourage the various strata of stakeholders to recognize the peculiar nature of the composition of Enugu East Senatorial District to ensure that all the component constituents are carried along.
“Inclusivity, rather than exclusivity, should guide the negotiations for the choice of a candidate from Enugu East.
“We strongly condemn attempts to diminish the power of the Governor by forces spread throughout Enugu state.
“Former governor Chimaroke Nnamani successfully ensured that the mantle of leadership in Enugu state went from Enugu East to Enugu West Sullivan Chime too successfully ensured that the mantle of leadership moved from Enugu West to Enugu North.
“We strongly condemn all the forces that assail Ugwuanyi’s attempts to do what his fellow governors in Enugu state seamlessly did? We are tempted to believe that the reason is that Nsukka people cannot muster the political strengths other zones in the state have.
“Consequently, we condemn all attempts to frustrate the well-established zoning policy during Ugwuanyi’s administration, this is neither fair to the Governor nor to the people of Nsukka,” they said.
Expressing further, the communiqué noted that the group is worried by the denial of any zoning policy in the state by those who should know better.
“We highly respect Senator Ike Ekweremadu, a man of great national and international exposure, a senator of immense experience like him is wellaware of the enshrined federal character in the constitution of the Nigerian federation.
“As a very senior member of the PDP, he should know more than us that zoning is top on the agenda of PDP as it searches for a President come 2023.
“He knows better than us that zoning by way of Federal character operates in the National Assembly where he served as Deputy Senate President.
“Ekweremadu argues that he is not aware of any zoning in Enugu state, but surprisingly he is worried that Enugu West has produced one Governor, Enugu East three Governors, and Enugu North two Governors, and he asks: “So, where is the equity? Where is the justice?” His questions about equity and justice imply that it is the turn of Enugu West to produce the next Governor. Is this not the principle of zoning he is denying?.
“But Ekweremadu is not respecting Truth, C. C. Onoh, and Jim Nwobodo belonged to old Enugu Zone, while Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo belonged to old Nsukka zone. It was in 1999 that three senatorial districts became operational in Enugu state, it is also the beginning of the current zoning arrangement in the state.
“In this regard, if we go by the old Enugu and old Nsukka zones, Old Enugu has produced four governors, and Old Nsukka has produced two governors. In actual fact then, it is Old Nsukka zone that should be asking, ”where is the equity? Where is the justice?” So, who should be asking about equity and justice? “A path way to a new Enugu state” cannot, in all fairness, be asking for Old Enugu zone to produce five Governors while Old Nsukka has only two Governors.
“We call on Ugwuanyi to remain undaunted in his peace building process in Enugu state, he should not allow this peace building process to be truncated by those opposed to the current zoning formula in Enugu state under his command,” they said.