From, Maurice Okafor, Enugu
A book that incisively dealt on the politics of Enugu state since the return of the democratic dispensation in 1999, the men of timbre and calibre behind the power struggle, the impact of civilian governance in the state, among other issues was at the weekend presented to members of the public at Ingrace Event Center, Enugu. At the same venue, the immediate past Speaker of Enugu state house of assembly, Hon Eugene Odoh, in his marathon lecture captioned, ‘Zoning, Power Rotation and 2023 Elections’opined that the 2023 election will serve as a test of the willingness of the political players in Enugu state to observe the conventional practice of zoning and power rotation in the state.
The two events which took turn in sequence were packaged by the management of People and Politics Magazine to mark it’s 2021 zonal lecture. The Publisher of People and Politics Magazine, Mr Sheddy Ozoene,disclosed that annual lecture/award ceremonies where topical issues are discussed and awards bestowed on some Nigerians who have made appreciable impact in politcs, leadership and governance are parts of the initiatives of the media outfit to the nation’s growth.
The guest lecturer, Hon Eugene Odoh, the immediate past Speaker of Enugu state house of assembly comparatively outlined that the zoning and power rotation principle which even though not yet embedded in the constitution as shared between the North and Southern Nigeria, is applicable in Enugu state since the commencement of the democratic process in 1999,whereby either through doctrine of necessity or conduct, the three senatorial districts of Enugu state, starting from Enugu East senatorial district[1999 to 2007] to Enugu West senatorial district and currently Enugu North senatorial district, the zoning and power rotation principle has transmitted effectively.
He wondered if the political stakeholders and activists in Enugu state will permit the system to flow all over again or devise fresh ideas based on the prevailing quest for power in 2023 by various pressure and socio cultural groups in the state, who are giving cogent reasons, why they should take the stage, after Governor Ugwuanyi in 2023.
Hon Eugene Odoh stated, “The import of this scenario at National trickles down to all states of the federation. Enugu state is by no means an exception. As the day approaches, the debate over 2023 is building up in Enugu state, especially in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party[PDP] and All Progressives Congress[APC], the major opposition party in the state.”
The major issues of debate at the moment is which of the three zones should replace the incumbent administration of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi. There is this mitaken believe that zoning of Governorship position started in 1999 and this impression appears popular amongst the majority of the political elites in the state’.
He explained that in as much as PDP became the dominant party in Enugu state since 1999, even within the party primaries, the winner had equally faced strong challenge from aspirants from other zones. He mentioned the case of ex Governor Chimaroke from Enugu East senatorial district in 1999, who witnessed serious challenge from Chief Nduka Agu [Enugu West senatorial district] to emerge as the PDP flag bearer, thereafter, battled with Chief Gbazueagu Nweke Gbazueagu, the ANPP flag bearer to win the governorship seat. Just as ex Governor Chime from Enugu West senatorial district in 2007 had tough battle with Chief Okechukwu Itanyi, Prof Osita Ogbu, Prof Onyeke Onyeke etc from Enugu North senatorial district during the PDP governorship party primaries.
He stated, “If proponents of a power shift in the state were to stick to the unwritten code, the governorship seat would move to Enugu East senatorial district with ease in 2023 as has been the case coincidentally since 1999. However,as Enugu North zone prepares to serve out it’s turn in 2023,fresh arguments are beginning are beginning to emerge that interrogate the power equation arrangement. Those interrogating the arrangement are adducing several reasons to advance their position.”
The lecture was followed with the presentation of a book captioned, Clash of Interests’ written by the Publisher/Editor in Chief of People and Politics magazine,Mr Sheddy Ozoene. The 20 chapter book similarly narrated the power play in Enugu state since 1999, detailing the various intrigues that played out at any point in time in the Enugu state democratic process.
The author outlined how the impact and struggles of the political godfathers like late Chief C.C.Onoh and Chief Jim Nwobodo resonated by anointing their political godsons in different parties formed and shaped the tide of Enugu state politics in the 4th Republic.
Chief J.O J Okoloagu, a retired army General and a chieftain of All Progressives Congress[APC], appraised the creativity and ability of the author, Mr Sheddy Ozoene, in giving an eye witness account of the political developments in Enugu state. He recommended the book as a guide for the younger generation in their quest for power.
The book reviewer Dr Malachy Ochei marshaled the events and personalities that formed the content packaged in every chapter of the book in each of the political dispensation of the state. In addition to the roles of Late Chief .C.C. Onoh and Chief Jim Nwobodo political rivalry played in the birth of the 4th democratic political process in Enugu, the book reviewer captured the Author’s mention of the roles of Dr Okwy Nwodo, Chief Ugochukwu Agballa with his ‘Ebe Ana Eje philosophy during Chimaroke Nnamani era, etc. He also mentioned the challenge of Senator Ayogu Eze in the build up to the politics that produced Governor Ugwuanyi and the Senator Ike Ekweremadu factor in Enugu state politics.
The father of the day, Bishop Sosthenes Eze of Enugu North Diocese[Anglican Communion] described the book as a package of history. He described Politics as a call to duty for every body and tasked politicians to live above selfish interest and be committed in serving the people. According to him, Politics originated from God who tasked early kings of Israel like king Solomon to administer Justice in all ramifications to the people of Israel.
The discussants Dan Okolie, a socio political analyst and Barr Agbo extolled the author for the rich content of the book.
The event was chaired by Ozo Anthony Ani. Governor Ugwuanyi was represented at the event by his chief Press Secretary, Mr Chuks Ugwoke.