By IKE ABONYI
“True equality means holding everyone accountable in the same way, regardless of race, gender, faith ethnicity or political ideology” – Monica Crowly
It’s very evident to all discerning minds that serious efforts are being made lately to covertly take away the political peace and tranquillity that has been ubiquitous in Enugu State since 2007 and replace it with uneasiness, panic and angst.
The turmoil that ruled the tenure of Governor Chimaroke Nnamani was brilliantly dimmed by the path of peace and friendliness that his successor Sullivan Chime followed immediately on coming to power.
A distance observer watching developments in Enugu State lately would be thinking that it’s all about crimes and criminality emanating from the youth restiveness due to the large scale unemployment. But an in-depth look and critical analysis of the undercurrent behind it, would easily pinpoint the linkage to politics.
Undoubtedly, the way and manner the disquiet is coming in torrents conveys only one message and that is that some political intrigues and manoeuvrings are currently sprouting in the state curiously to achieve a purpose. What purpose you may ask? To destabilize and derail the system for a particular political design.
Since 1999 Enugu State has been outstanding in its harmonious politics, making it one of the most peaceful politically in the country.
This perhaps was made possible largely due to an understanding entered into by the leaders of the state long ago to have power equitably shared and rotated among the three Senatorial zones of Enugu East, Enugu West and Enugu North also known as Nkanu, Udi and Nsukka geo-political zones.
While it was easy to maintain the power rotation, the power sharing and development was not possible as it was virtually winners take all in the area of appointments and infrastructural developments.
This unique power sharing formula in the state started as far back as the third republic when Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo reigned as Governor of old Enugu State that included some parts of now Ebonyi State. Nwodo christened it triangular equilibrium. He designed power, positions, resources and development to be shared equitably among the then three political power bases; Abakiliki, Enugu and Nsukka geo-political areas. Unfortunately, before that method was to fully take off, Nwodo and that republic were flushed out. But the new Enugu State in 1999 found the method interesting and adoptable when democratic rule fully returned to the land although not in all its original ramifications. The new democratic government agreed to the power rotation but could not be faithful in equitable sharing of jobs, resources and development aspect of the bargain.
This bias in appointments, developments and empowerment was very pronounced under the reign of Nnamani from the Enugu East. In one of his responses to the cacophony of voices against this lopsidedness in governance, the haughty governor then told the other zones to wait when it reaches their turn they should develop their own area. In line with that spirit even when the governor was to nominate a minister to represent the state in the federal cabinet, he still went to his zone to pick a brother Frank Nweke from Nkanuland.
By the time the mandatory eight-year tenure of Dr. Nnamani ended with its maximum control of power and development paving way for Chime, it was easy for the next zone to stand on an already set precedent. Although Chime was in a hurry to jettison a number of Nnamani’s style, he quickly embraced the power take all policy in both appointments and developments.
Even when he had the opportunity like his predecessor to nominate minister to represent the state, he also quickly went to his own village, first Felecia Njeze and later Prof. Chinedu Nebo also from his town.
The visibly underdog zone of the state, Enugu North or Nsukka area notwithstanding their numerical advantage over the other geo-political areas religiously waited patiently for their turn which eventually arrived in 2015. But unfortunately for them it never came holistically rubbishing the old saying that the patient dog eats the fattest meat.
By the time the winners take all system arrived the dorm of Nsukka zone there was no federal control for their party, nearly 50% of the power were gone. As it now implies, the Nsukka governor in his era cannot appoint or influence the appointment of ministers. Reason being that the Pharaoh that knows no Joseph arrived Egypt. Buhari and APC came to replace PDP.
At this time even when it was time to pick the minister to represent the state, nobody looked the way of Enugu North instead ministerial power returned to Enugu West.
As a result, in the last 20 years of democratic rule in the country, ministerial position and other top federal jobs rotated between Enugu East and Enugu West. Sadly for Enugu North what is now available to them is just about 50% of what was available to the other zones.
But the other sister two zones are not to blame, if anybody is to be blamed it should be the naive Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP who squandered their goodwill with brazen arrogance that brought the entire country to this near disaster called APC.
But rather than sympathizing with Nsukka zone for losing out a great chunk of what their colleagues in other zones enjoyed, the pressure is instead on Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi not to even use the available 50% to do the needful. What you instead see unfolding is the government being harassed, hounded and intimidated enough to stop it from implementing the existing winners take all key jobs and developments which others popularized.
To ensure that developing Nsukka zone does not happen, Gburugburu government need to be disorganized and made fragile enough so that it would have to exist at the mercy of other zones. When this happens he would be so inundated that rather than think of development he would be so concerned with survival of his regime.
Not minding the dearth of funds in his time compared to previous reign of Nnamani and Chime, the target is now to fuel enough crises to derail him. From all indications this agenda is materializing as the second term of Gburgburu appears condemned to tackling security challenges rather than development. Instead of being on the road inspecting projects and cutting tapes Gburugburu has been subjected to the forests in search of political criminals whether herdsmen or forest hoodlums.
Not to agree with this perspective is to have an acceptable explanation for the sudden loss of harmony in the state leading to some shocking murder cases, curious kidnapping instances and herdsmen vexatious attacks at core areas as the killing of priests and kidnapping of traditional rulers.
The agenda is simple: to derail the government and stop it from addressing the glaring age-long marginalization of Nsukka people in the scheme of things. The University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) was touted for Nsukka in the second republic but was diverted to Nkanuland where it’s today literarily under-utilized because of its isolated location all to the mercy and influence of a sitting Nkanu son, Jim Nwobodo. All efforts made by an Nsukka son as Health Minister, late D. C. Ugwu to have the teaching hospital located in Nsukka failed to the weightier influence of the then state governor.
Again when the same governor established a state university with multiple campus, the Adada campus for Nsukka was jettisoned by another Nkanu son governor, rather than even take the teaching hospital of the university to Nsukka it got squeezed in the Enugu in an existing general hospital instead of having it spread to other zones. All referral health challenges of Nsukka residents must drag you to Enugu.
Despite all these hell is letting lose, all crimes and criminalities are germinating in protest for Governor Ugwuanyi trying to decongest Enugu and relocate the ESUT teaching hospital to Nsukka. The anger over this laudable policy going on clandestinely is now giving birth to all kinds of political challenges on the government with the sole agenda of distracting the governor.
But Gburugburu should know one thing as a fact that providence brought him to be at the helm of affairs of Enugu State at this time, history will be harsh on him if he fails to do to Nsukka what Nnamani did to Nkanu and what Chime did to Udi. Justice and fair play demand this from him and he must not yield to any distraction even if they are coming from his own people. Fairness also demands that West and East must extend the same cooperation and support North gave to them. What is good for the goose is also good for the gander.