Charter of Equity: Path to Enthronement of Fairness in Our Polity


Oliver Okpala

There is no doubt that politics is essentially a game of distribution and sharing of interest. No person or group likes to be short-changed in the process. Everybody wants his interest to be protected.

This is not abnormal therefore; after all, this is what politics is all about – who controls the machinery of government. Now, it has been observed that perhaps the greatest challenge of our recent political experience is the sharing of political offices. This problem has torn many political parties apart. It has generated disunity, rancour, acrimony, recrimination and bitterness nationwide.

In view of agitations over the spread of political offices over the years, it has become necessary to consider the adoption of the political principle and practice which have been widely termed the charter of equity.

It should be enshrined in our constitution as a sure way of enhancing peace, unity and stability in the polity as it has proven to be the easiest path to the maintenance of fairness, justice and equity in the distribution of public and elective offices across the nation.

At this critical point in our political history and democratic evolution, it has become apposite and auspicious to begin a process of enshrining the charter of equity in our constitution. The Charter is indeed a sine qua non for peace and unity.

It is the most critical ingredient in the distribution and sharing of offices and democratic dividends. This principle is recommended nationally and in all the states of the federation as a way of enthroning lasting peace and stability in the polity.

The charter of equity will ensure even distribution of offices among the various contending forces either at the national or state levels. At the national level, the adoption of the charter will take care of all separatist agitations from diverse ethnic groups and nationalities who want a re-negotiation of our union as a federation.

It does not need a soothsayer to determine that the reason for agitations across the country is because of real, imagined or perceived marginalisation in the nation. But the principle of charter of equity will address these agitations as it will instil in the various segments of the nation, a sense of belonging.

It will ensure fair distribution of political offices such that no region, religion, ethnic group will hold the country to ransom. By extension it would create room for even sharing of the dividends of democracy. By this tested mechanism, choice and plum political jobs will not be the preserve of any people or group.

There will be easy access by all and sundry to the corridors of power. The Charter will take care of the proverbial high and the mighty, the vast unlettered, the privileged and the less-privileged, the rich as well as the poor. The adoption of the principle of charter of equity particularly at the national level will check certain imbalances which trigger suspicion and it will enthrone national cohesion as a way of advancing national development.

At the level of the states, there have been cases of bickering, rancour and distrust over the distribution of offices. In Lagos State for instance, two former governors of the state were Muslims. In the build-up to the 2015 governorship election, certain elements began the advocacy for a Christian governor as the only way to ensure equity in the state. This idea spread like wildfire across the state and the ruling party keyed into the idea which has now produced Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, a Christian.

In virtually all states of the federation, there are agitations for equity in the race for the office of Governor and other key political offices. The agitation is often for rotation and even spread of these positions so that every part of the state would have a sense of belonging. This has happened in Benue, Sokoto, Kano and many states in the Northern part of the county.

In the South, the agitation for political inclusiveness and equity in the sharing of political offices is as old as the states themselves. In the South-south state of Akwa Ibom State, for instance, one of the key campaign issues in the last governorship election was the need for power shift from one senatorial zone to the other.

This issue also reared its head in Rivers State where political watchers observed that the present Governor Mr. Nyesome Wike, then a candidate and his successor Mr. Rotimi Amaechi were from the same Senatorial Zone. In Delta and Cross River States, power shifted from one Senatorial Zone to the other. Edo State is also on the path of experiencing same as the candidates of the two main parties in this election are from Edo South, moving away from Edo North where the current Governor Comrade Adams Oshiomhole hails from.

In the South-east, agitations for rotation and power shift were perhaps the key issues during the last elections. This idea of charter of equity was approved in virtually all the South Eastern states. In almost all these states, Governors had hitherto emerged from the South and Central Senatorial Zones of the states.

The Northern Senatorial Zones and in some cases Southern Senatorial Zones felt cheated and outwitted in the power game. They advocated for the application of the charter of equity so that there would be political inclusiveness which would enable them to produce governors from their various zones. This made it possible for Mr. David Umahi from the Southern Senatorial Zone to emerge as the Governor of Ebonyi State. It is a historical feat that this is the first time since 1999 that the zone would produce a Governor.

The same scenario played out in Abia State where the Ngwas who had never produced a Governor, did so in the person of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu through the application of the concept of charter of equity, perhaps this is why he has continued to weather all the political storms after the polls.
A similar circumstance was replicated in Enugu State. For a long time, since the advent of the present democratic experience, Nsukka Zone produced a Governor in the person of Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.

The case of Anambra State was not different. All the zones in the State except Anambra North had been Governors at one time or the other. Anambra North was even more peculiar as apart from governorship, nobody from the zone had even held any prominent political office.

But the adoption of the charter of equity in the state during their last governorship election changed the scenario as Chief Willie Obiano from Anambra North mounted the saddle and has been positively justifying his emergence since then. Some political analysts believe that the first Anambra North extraction as governor of the State has made the state a first choice destination for investors in the South-east.

By the great work Governor Obaino is doing in Anambra State, there is no gain saying the fact that the doctrine of charter of equity will help create room for more ideas-driven governance. It therefore, behoves on the good people of Anambra State to work harmoniously with Chief Obiano so that he will continue to provide dividends of democracy in the state and actualise the laudable programmes he has embarked upon for the transformation of the state.

There is no doubt that Governor Obiano deserves a second term, given the tremendous work he has done so far in Anambra State, which is in sync with the prescription of offering second terms to performing governors, as was done for his predecessor, Mr. Peter Obi. This will also amount to fairness to the good and resourceful people of Anambra North Senatorial Zone. Given this scenario, all the campaign of hate, spite, bitterness and calumny in the state are unnecessary and un-called for. This is because Governor Obiano deserves a second term not only because of his laudable achievements which are there for all to see, but also as a way of promoting equity and fairness for the good people of Anambra North Senatorial Zone which had been politically marginalised until the emergence of Governor Obiano.

This same position should also apply to Enugu and Ebonyi States where the Governors have done very well and deserve a second term and as compensation to the marginalised zones from where they come. The same should also apply in some respect to Imo State. This is so because the people from these areas are tasting power for the first time. It is also their right to retain the Governorship slot despite the machinations of political fifth columnists and their collaborators.

The essence of the principle of charter of equity can hardly be over-emphasised. We need this charter to be entrenched as part of our political culture. This is the sure way to enthrone fairness, stability and orderly election in our nation. As things stand now in the country, it is the best and only sensible way to go as nothing less will do.
Okpala, a political analyst, writes from Awka