Ebonyi 2015: The Defeat Of Power Of Incumbency – By Jerry Uhuo



Gov Elechi
Gov Elechi

The beauty of representative democracy is the fact that there is periodic assessment of performance of political office holders whereas their ability to return to office after a period of time depends on their performance while in office.  That is the reason why holders of such political offices return to the electorates every four years in Nigeria to ask for their votes to remain in political positions. Though this parameter of assessment   may not have been effective tool in determining how our political leaders win their elections since 1999 because ours is still an emerging democracy, the fact remains that Nigerians have become more enlightened on their rights and privileges in promoting democracy and perhaps the elections in 2015 will be a litmus test for those seeking political positions.


The results arising from the just concluded Political Party primaries that took place across the country and the complaints therein from political office holders who lost their ticket to new entrants into the game are indications that Nigerians in many places demonstrated their power to choose their leaders. Even though the party primaries were more of collegiate election, yet the delegates spoke the minds of their party members in many areas. That may be a reflection of what to expect in 2015 general elections. It looks like the era of one party dominating seats in National and State Houses of Assembly and the states is over.


This indication was witnessed in Ebonyi State and was eloquently demonstrated by the citizens of the state across party lines in the state. For the first time since 1999, Ebonyi witnessed what could be termed a political revolution in the choice of candidates for the next elections in the state. In fact, it was the first time in Nigeria since return to democracy in 1999, that a sitting governor was overruled in his choice of successor by the people not only of his political party but citizens of the state who felt betrayed by the incumbent governor who created more of democratic deficits than democratic dividends.


It could be recalled that Governor Martin Elechi woke up one morning early this year during the Muslim Sallah celebration and announced to Ebonyians that a certain part of the state had adopted the erstwhile Minister of Health Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu to be his successor in 2105 and that he threw his support to the Professor. It was like news of military coup in Ebonyi state and the people took to the media to reject the purported adoption which was meant to foreclose the chances of other contestants in the governorship race. The total rejection of Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu was not necessarily because of the man himself but because of the Governor who endorsed him. Ebonyians did not want imposition to continue in the choice of political office holders in the state. Since 1999, most people who held political positions in the state were anointed, selected, imposed or determined by a few cabal or reward to a certain political godfather somewhere, the reason why many of them have performed below expectations. Resources that should have been used in bringing development to the people were used in patronizing godfathers and rewarding thugs.  In the 2015, Ebonyians are united against further imposition of candidates on them. It is time to allow democracy where the people will exercise their franchise, to thrive in the state.

The Social contract theory associated with three classical political philosophers: Thomas Hobbes, John Locke (both of 17th century England), and Jean Jacques Rousseau (18th century France) is rooted in the ancient Greek philosophical thoughts on the issues of who should rule, what should be the role of the people in political and governance processes, and what form of government is best for the peace, order, security, development, welfare and happiness of the people.


It is from these perspectives that Democracy is often conceived following Abraham Lincoln’s slogan as “the government of the people, for the people, and by the people”; but as  Sartori noted, a democratic political system is the “one that makes the government responsive and accountable and its effectiveness depends first and foremost on the efficiency and skills of its leadership.” This is done through, as Lispet argues, regular supplies of “constitutional opportunities for changing the governing officials and a social mechanism which permits the largest possible part of the population to influence major decisions by choosing among contenders for political office” which is what Schumpeter aptly sums up in his democratic idea as “institutional arrangement for arriving at political decisions which realizes the common good by making the people itself decide issues through the election of individuals who are to assemble in order to carry out its will.”


Therefore, the concept of democracy is associated with participation, competition, civil and political liberties. When governor Elechi decided to go alone in the decision of who succeeds him, the people of Ebonyi revolted and his candidates could no longer participate in the primary elections. It means that the limits of political power are determined by the people who hold the mandate and not the holder of such office.

The reason why Nigeria has not developed sustainable political culture is the fact that politicians still see public office as private enterprise. Apart from the influence of ethnicity, North/South dichotomy, Male dominance and  religion  in politics in Nigeria, the main factors mitigating against the development of proper political culture and growth of democracy in our country are Absence of Leadership Committed To Democracy, Incumbency Factor, Lawlessness, Disregard for the Rules of the Political game, Godfatherism, Dependent And Compromised Electoral Umpire, Election rigging, Corruption, The Military Factor, Northern Hegemony, Political violence; and Compromised Security Agencies.

Now that Nigerians are more enlightened and could take their political destiny in their own hands, it looks like in 2105 the game will change in the direction of the people.

In Ebonyi, about four political parties are fielding candidates in different positions including the governorship. The incumbent governor having lost the PDP structure in the state to his Deputy who is contesting the governorship election under the PDP platform has moved his supporters to the Labour Party. In actual sense, they are two factions of the PDP in Ebonyi, the faction that retains the name of the party with Engr. Dave Umahi as its governorship candidate and the faction that took the label of Labour party with Arch. Edward Nkwegu as its governorship candidate, while APC and APGA have Senators Julius Ucha and Anthony Agbo as their governorship candidates respectively. All the parties also have their candidates in various political positions from State to National Assembly.

Now that the power of incumbency has been defeated in Ebonyi, can Ebonyi people reject another level of imposition through gifts of money and material items from desperate politicians that may lead to mortgaging their conscience and future? It is only when the people can elect their leaders  without compromising their rights and privileges by not collecting money and gift items which come only once in four years from politicians that they will have the moral right to question the leaders  when they fail to perform or keep their  campaign promises. Democracy is not practiced on sentiments of religion, zoning, godfatherism, money bags, election rigging or political violence. It is a game of freedom and participation.  Like Nelson Mandela the icon of democracy in Africa once said of Nigeria: …”Your leaders have no respect for your people. They believe that their personal interests are the interest of the people. They take people’s resources and turn it to personal wealth. There is a level of poverty in Nigeria nay Ebonyi that should be unacceptable. I cannot understand why Nigerians nay Ebonyians are not more angry than they are…” If Ebonyi must move out of its present pitiable social, economic and political condition, we must be wise with our votes in 2015.


  • Uhuo is a Political Scientist and Commentator on National Issues.





  1. Must one remain permanent slave just because he is in a minority. Why is it that whenever Ebonyi South raise her head in Ebonyi State politics, a fever of fear will grip Ebonyi North. And they will adopt all political intrigues to scutle her chance?


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