On the Matter of Equity, Justice and Fairness in Enugu

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Akpa Francis, a public affairs commentator revisits the current succession controversy in Enugu State ahead of 2023 and questions the zoning arrangement that excludes people of old Awgu division

In my previous write up with the title, “The Deceitful Zoning Propaganda in Enugu State”, I tried to show how Greater Awgu (cultural zone) people comprising Awgu, Aninri and Oji River local government areas of Enugu have been reduced to the political weeping child of the state. This is due to the worst form of political marginalization foisted on the people before, during and after the creation of Enugu state.

Expectedly, the write up attracted mixed reactions. In that write up, many pertinent questions were raised challenging proponents of zoning in the state to provide evidence as to when and who sat together to draw the agreement on zoning (written or unwritten).

While many hailed the logicality of the argument, some people with opposing views made feeble attempts to counter the argument even as they were lacking in facts and failed woefully to provide answers to the basic questions raised. Their best attempt was to say that zoning was conventional and that it has come to stay! We shall return to that later.

In this second intervention, I basically want to present further historical evidence to buttress the point that 2023, by reason of equity, justice and fairness, Ndi Awgu, whether by “cultural zone” or old divisional structure (or even affirmation), should be supported to produce the next governor of Enugu state. Power can still shift to Nkanu cultural zone (still part of old Udi division) afterwards. By so doing, equity is still served.

The old Awgu Division was created by the British colonial authorities in 1919 and later gave birth to Oji River Local Government during the nationwide Local Government Reform of 1976 while Aninri LGA was later carved out of Awgu in 1996.

From the introduction of a Federal Constitution in Nigeria in 1954 until the end of the Nigerian Civil war in 1970, our dear Enugu State of today that was officially created in August 27, 1991, made up of three old administrative Divisions: The old Awgu Division, old Nsukka and old Udi Division, the old Udi Division covers both Agbaja and Nkanu clans.

This unique and constitutional position of the three defunct divisions in Enugu State has long been recognized by successive Governments pre and post independence.

In the 1957-1959, the cabinet of Eastern Region led by the then Premier of Eastern Region, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, historically, three (3 ) Ministers were selected to represent the three divisions that were to later constitute Enugu State.

The Ministers; Chief. Basil Okwu from Achi (Old Awgu Division) then Minister for Information.

Chief John Nwodo from Ukehe (Old Nsukka Division) then Minister for Commerce.

Chief. Elias Aneke Chime from Udi town (Old Udi Division) then Minister for Welfare.

Also under the post-independence government of Eastern Region led by Dr. Michael Okpara as then Premier of Eastern Region (1960-1963), we had:

Chief. BC Okwu (Old Awgu Division) as Minister for Health.

Chief. JU Nwodo (Old Nsukka Division) as Minister for Local Government.

Chief. EA Chime (Old Udi Division) as then Provincial Commissioner, Enugu.

The above is equity and fairness.

What then happened later?

Governorship;

Verifiably, the old Udi Division has produced the following elected Governors of Enugu State, they are:

Chief. Sen Jim Ifeanyichukwu Nwobodo from Amechi Awkunanaw (old Udi Division): Governor, old Anambra State, 1979-1983.

Chief. Christian Chukwuma Onoh from Ngwo (Old Udi Division): Governor old Anambra State, October 1983 till December, 1983.

Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani from Agbani Nkanu, (old Udi Division): Governor Enugu State, 1999-2007.

HE. Barr Sullivan Iheanacho Chime from Udi town, (old Udi Division): Governor Enugu State,2007-2015.

Old Nsukka Division has also produced the following elected Governors of Enugu State, this includes:

Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo from Ukehe, (old Nsukka Division): First elected Governor of Enugu State, 1992- 1993.

HE. Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Lawrence Ugwuanyi from Oba Nsukka (old Nsukka Division): current Governor of Enugu State, 2015-2023, God’s willing.

Then old Awgu Division???

Note, all these governors both past and present, became Governors based on the wish of God cum relationship and interest and not based on “Zoning” as has been deceitfully planted in the minds of Ndi Enugu State.

It is therefore logical and equitable that old Awgu Division (or Greater Awgu cultural zone) should be given the chance to produce the next Governor of Enugu State come 2023.

For the sake of equity, justice and fairness we call on our Udi/Nkanu old Division and Nsukka old Division brethren to support Ndi Awgu come 2023 in the interest of equity and fairness provided we present an electable and acceptable candidate.

On the argument that zoning is a conventional practice, may I remind such school of thought that zoning is dynamic and expediential in nature. It is not cast in stone. Many would rather prefer to use the term ‘power shift’, which to me is more democratic and just.

In the same vein, the people of old Awgu division are saying that while still maintaining equity and justice (and even if by affirmative action), and without jettisoning power shift, they should be supported to start the fresh power rotation (in line with power shift) and based on political expediency, since they have never tasted the governorship position before. After them, power can still rotate to Enugu East (old Udi division/Nkanu cultural zone).