A Call For Equity In Nsukka/Igbo-Eze Federal Constituency – By Louis Ejikeme
The idea of rotating political offices in Nigeria is perhaps one of the best things that have happened to her democracy since 1999. It may not be politically correct; may have denied the people a variety of choice by constricting the political space, but it nonetheless fits well the peculiar political situation in the country. It has reduced tension; ensured political peace, and brought development closer to the people. It offers the politically unsophisticated as well as the numerically weak fair opportunity to compete with the politically strong. No time were the chances of aspiring to political offices made any better for both the weak and the strong. Allocation of offices has since followed the same pattern, bringing to an end perennial battles that sundered many a state.
This arrangement might not be a perfect one as there are those who see Aso Rock as their patrimonial inheritance and wish succession to be by right of primogeniture. But since Nigeria is not created a vassal to pander to anybody’s whims, the fledgeling democracy has survived this long on the peculiar arrangement and its hope of sustennance. So far as the threat to Nigeria’s unity, none has been as potent as the one posed by the fear of perpetual domination of her affairs by a section of the country. The recent carnage by both the Fulani Herdsmen and the Boko Haram suicides may threaten, but compared to political domination immediately pales into insignificance. It may be fair to argue that the survival or otherwise of the country depends on how well she manages this peculiar political arrangement.
Elsewhere in the States, the arrangement has been fairly the same, bringing peace to the otherwise troubled political groupings in the areas. Enugu State, for example, is a clear case where this form of political arrangement has brought peace and rapid development. Allegations of domination of the politics of the State by two out of her three Senatorial Zones of Enugu East, Enugu West and Enugu North have been put to rest. Political offices now rotate among the Zones. None of the Zones is again left in the backwaters of the State politics. The cry of marginalization by the North Senatorial Zone no longer rends the air. The Nsukka people who make up the Zone (North Senatorial) have as much political voice as the other two Zones of Enugu East and West. What Nsukka Zone lacked or presumed to have been denied while the previous situation lasted is certain to be recovered by the time the governor of the State, Honourable Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi leaves office, perhaps in 2023. The idea to concede the governorship to Nsukka Socio-Cultural Zone i.e. Enugu North Senatorial Zone, when ex-Governor Sullivan Chime from Enugu West was leaving office, was in keeping with the spirit of the rotation principle. The peace and development in the State, ever since, compare to no other.
Unfortunately, some politicians from the State appear decided to disrupt the order. One of them, Dr. Patrick Asadu, member representing Nsukka/Igbo-eze South constituency in the Federal House of Representative has become effectively bankrupt in great and compelling detail. He is not only determined to appropriate the office for life, but he is loath to forgo the advantage in the spirit of the rotation. The chance of representing the good people of the Constituency was offered him in 2007 on the basis of the rotation arrangement. The federal constituency comprises two local governments: Nsukka and Igbo-eze South. His election was therefore a concession made to Igbo-eze South. But it would seem the idea to live by the rule no longer sits well with his person.
It is important to state that the arrangement was well thought out and respected from the onset of this democracy in 1999. Nsukka local government which comprised: Nsukka Central, Nsukka East and Nsukka West produced the very first sets of representatives of the constituency in the persons of late Honourable Alex Ike Eze from Nsukka central and Honorable Charle Ugwu from Nsukka East respectively. Ike Eze was there for a term of four years (1999-2003) just as was Ugwu who took over from him. The latter also did one term 2003- 2007. Neither of the two was selfish about it. Only Nsukka West did not produce a member. This was in order not to violate the two-term arrangement for Nsukka and Igbo-eze South that make up the Constituency.
The election of Honourable Asadu, who is the incumbent Chairman, House Committee on Ports, Harbours and Waterways, from Igbo-eze South in 2007 came with the understanding (though in principle) that Igbo-eze South would relinquish the seat after two terms of eight years. But Asadu has reneged on the agreement. He would have done three terms of twelve years by the end of the current tenure and still pushing for more. There is no doubt that this unbridled ambition is a gross violation of the rotation order which if untamed would put the Constituency at a great risk. He seems to imagine the office as an opportunity to be seized to advantage perpetually, forgetting that “Next to knowing when to seize an opportunity, the most important thing in life is to know when to forgo an advantage” (Disraeli).
As it stands today in Nsukka Local Government only Nsukka West, otherwise known as Ovogovo Socio-Cultural Zone is yet to produce a member. Already there are those who have indicated interest in the race from Nsukka Local Government among them: former member of the House of Representatives,Charles Ugwu; current Commissioner for Housing in the state, Peter Okonkwo; Chinedu Nwamba, Chidi Mark Obetta and Uchenna Ogbu. Of the lot, only Obetta and Ogbu come from Nsukka West, the area that is yet to produce a representative. Without intent on insult Asadu has not done well for the Constituency since his 12 years in the Lower House. The Consituency is yet to experience any manner of federal government presence. It may seem a bit uncomplimentary, but any other person from Ovogovo, especially Nsukkka West where Obetta, a former governorship aspirant in the state and Ogbu, a lawyer hail from, will do a better job of Asadu’s 12 years of bench warming. He has not shown capacity and will waste another four years of the people’s time if not prevailed upon to perish the idea. Pray he appreciates the need to let the rotation principle be and not be blinded by ambition to the extent of courting a tomb with an unwaxened epitaph.
A public affairs analyst
Writes from Enugu
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