By Paul Ejiofor
The desperate bid by political hustlers to grab and seize the common patrimony and political soul of of Enugu state continued last week even as christians prepared for Easter that teaches sacrifice and selflessness.. An amorphous group known as Nkanu Peoples Assembly two days ago began the circulation of what it called an announcement warning Nsukka people to steer clear of the selection process of who becomes governor of Enugu, post may 2023. Though it acknowledged the highground of the present governor in sustaining peace and standards in the political development, it however warned Nsukka General Assembly to allow them alone select who becomes governor because as they put it, it is their turn to fill that post. Ostensibly, the group claim to be speaking for the six council areas in the zone including Isi uzo local government.
They were apparently reacting to the Nsukka General Assembly led by former Commisioner and statesman Matthias Omeh had made a passionate appeal for equity and justice urging political activist to rememeber that the old Nsukka zone which comprised Uzo-uwani, Isi-Uzo, Igbo-Etiti, Nsukka, Igbo-Eze North and South and Udenu local government had remained one zone more than fourty years after the 1976 local governement reforms. The old Enugu zone had broken into two with the obvious advantage it has brought in terms of development to communities of the two zones. In its position paper that was well circulated in the media, Nsukka Peoples Assembly made a case for iri n’isu, iri n’isu (16-16 years), an euphemism for equity, fairness and justice in political leadership in the key areas of the old Wawa clan.
But the Nkanu Peoples Assembly in its announcement avered that the campaign by Nsukka General Assembly is an unwanted meddlesomeness which negates the principle of zoning. Unfortunately, the group showed its disdain for Isi Uzo, though a member of its zone by saying “it is not the responsibility of Nsukka General Assembly or anybody outside Enugu East Zone to involve in micro zoning and the decision of who becomes the net governor of Enugu state. Before now, it would appear that the two zones were on the same page in the zoning debalce but what the Nkanu General Assembly has done is to show that it is has ulterior motives in its agitation for zoning. Infact, last month one of its political figures had warned the governor not to impose a minority on the people of Nkanu as he seeks to influence who becomes his successor. Without mincing words Nnaji, a former commissioner in the state and once often described as the Nkanu voice of defiance described Isi-Uzo People as outcasts, inferior, minority who should not at any point hope to become a leader of the zone or even of the state.
This attitude of some of Nkanu political leadership belies the sense of fairness and equity which initially greeted the position of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that zoning remains active and operational during the selection process for the coming election has given way to anger, rejection, anomie and outright desperation. Ray Nnaji’s outburst was a daring act of desperation meant to scare the governor in the exercise of his influence.
Nkanu Peoples Assembly should understand that the right to political expression and aspiration remain inalienable right of every citizen of the country. It should be reminded that Enugu East as a political zone comprised of other clans especially the Isi Uzo, Nike,Ngwo and a large no strangers who live in the urban swath of the zone. Infact, the Nsukka Forum for fairness and Equity has expressed its concern over the subtle threat issued by some Nkanu agitators over political developments in the state. NFFE cordinator, Obeta Obeta had reminded them and people like Ray Nnaji that the peaceful disposition of the governor should not be misconstrued as weakness. It reminded NPA that Enugu East senatorial zone comprised the Nkanus, the Nike, the Isi Uzo, the Ngwo people, the Ezea and a large no of metropolitan settlers who reside in the urban centres of the state capital.
It is instructive that the same Nkanu agitators did not see anything wrong when in 2007, its leader and former governor, Chimaroke Nnamani unilaterally and without refering to anybody, zoned the office of the governor to Udi in Enugu West and actually punished some of his lieutenants who dared ask questions about his decision. Dan Shere, his Secretary to State Government can testify to how he lost the favour to go to the senate that year.
Why would some Nkanu people reject Isi Uzo because of politics? Nkanu people has an opportunity to build a special relationship with the Isi uzo people now or forever plant a hateful political relationship. And it does not matter if the marriage between Nkanu land and Isi Uzo was concieved in politics, a trade where deception is an art. They have the opportunity to embrace the movement for a fair contest among all in the zone and stop the open hostility which has characterised its response to the ascendancy of Isi Uzo. What should become clear now is that Nkanu cannot and will never be allowed to organise a referendum among themselves to select a governor for the whole of Enugu state. Nnamani did not ask Enugu West to select theirs and Governor Chime did not Enugu North who they want. .
Ejiofor, political analyst lives in Enugu.