Although the light of the nation, Anambra state is on the part of zoning at the moment the issue is on the card ahead of the 2017 governorship election in the state.
It is not clear whether zoning will stand the test of time and fully take its course considering the interest of political gladiators gunning for the governorship seat from various parts of the state.
In 2013, former Governor Peter Obi pulled the trigger to move the seat to the north using his incumbent powers and might. Obi put it to the leadership of All Progressives Grand Alliance APGA (his party then) that it should be fair enough to zone the office of governor to the north being the only senatorial zone that were yet to taste the government house in Awka.
According to the former governor, it is unfair to have somebody from central succeed him after his eight-year reign and considering the fact that two former governors namely Chuwuemeka Ezeife and Chinwoke Mbadinuju were from south it is fair for the people from north to produce the governor in 2013. That was how Willie Obiano emerged the candidate of APGA and subsequently became the Anambra governor.
The PDP, either by omission or commission also went to Anambra north to raise its candidate for the 2013 contest. The party brought out former state chairman of the party who was also a former president of National Association of Nigerian Students NANS Comrade Tony Nwoye to face Obiano and others at the 2013 governorship poll.
The defunct Action Congress of Nigeria ACN which joined other parties that eventually metamorphosed the APC settled for the central zone by nominating Senator Chris Ngige for the 2013 battle.
Ahead of the 2013 contest, the issue of zoning and rotation of power appear to be at stake more than ever before. While the ruling party APGA has stuck its neck on the north and thus rooting for governor Obiano’s second term in office, nobody knows where the pendulums of the other notable parties the PDP and APC would swing.
With the names of Senator Andy Uba and Walter Ubaka Okeke from south, former Road Safety Chief and one time Aviation Minister Osita Chidoka from central and others being linked to the 2017 race on the platform of the PDP, it is not easy to predict that zoning would stand the test of time in PDP.
Dr Alex Obi Ogbolu an outstanding governorship aspirant from Onitsha under the PDP with indepth knowledge of Anambra challenges and solutions will have Senator Uba, Okeke, Chidoka and others to contend with for the PDP ticket. Dr Ogbolu, a product of UNILAG, who is on his third missionary journey in the race having ran for it in 2010 and 2013 respectively is banking on zoning to clinch the PDP ticket.
On the part of APC, there are names such as Senator Uche Ekwunife from central with George Muoghalu and Barth Nwibe from south. With these names and possibly others on the card for the APC ticket, the issue of zoning and rotation of power would be a daunting task in APC.
Two politicians Dr Chike Obidigbo an industrialist who was factional candidate of APGA in 2013 governorship race and Tony Nwoye are said to be eyeing the APC ticket for the governorship race from the north. Either of this two could coast home with the APC ticket if the party decides to go north on the principle of zoning and rotation of power.
Dr Obidigbo, who is also the proprietor of Osisioma Foundation and a champion of zoning who recently dumped APGA for APC with some members of his foundation has said on many occasions that it is unfair for Ndi Anambra to allow central zone to take a total of eleven years, allow the south to take seven years and not allow the north take its full share of the seat.
Obidigbo’s defection to APC may not be unconnected with his desire of a sound candidate for the party from the north for the 2013 race. Followers of the Umunya born industrialist is rooting for his candidacy in APC as such would guarantee the issue of zoning and rotation of power in the party.
Another factor that cannot be overemphasized on the issue is the Interest of former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN Professor Chukwuma Soludo. Although the name of the former CBN chief is not linked yet with any party for the 2017 race, he remains a bride and one may not be surprised if one of the notable parties goes for his hands in marriage for the race.
APGA stakeholders from old Aguata which include Aguata, Orumba North and south local government areas may approach Soludo to plead with him to buy into zoning to pave the way for Obiano to go for second term so as to balance the zoning formula.
The old Aguata APGA stakeholders led by former chairman of Aguata local government Hon Titus Anigbogu with full backing of traditional rulers and town union leaders of all the communities in the old Aguata at a grand ceremony held at Ekwulobia stadium not only endorsed Obiano for second term but also announced that they have reached an agreement with Omambala people in Anambra north to in turn, support old Aguata to produce the governor in 2021.
The endorsement of Obiano by old Aguata may not augur well with Chief Godwin Ezemo, a billionaire businessman and distinguished philanthropist from Umuchu who is contesting under the platform of People’s Progressive Alliance PPA. The area where the standard bearer of the Labour Party would come from is also going to be an issue of concern for zoning formula.
Another gladiator whose position may affect the zoning formula is Nnewi-born billionaire businessman Dr Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah. Ubah, the proprietor of FC Ifeanyi Ubah and publisher of The AUTHORITY newspapers is apparently rooting for Obiano’s second term, a possible indication that he has conceded to zoning according to APGA arrangement. But many stakeholders who see Ubah as a consummate strategist believe the business mogul and notable philanthropist is keeping his cards very close to his chest at the moment.
Speaking on the issue from the general point of view, Dr Chike Obidigbo noted that zoning really, is a legacy of left behind by former governor Peter Obi in his wisdom introduced and championed the cause of zoning for the overall Interest of the state.
Dr Obidigbo described zoning as a welcome development that cannot be overemphasized as it would help douse the tension and massive spending associated with governorship election in Anambra State.
He, therefore, called on the good people of the state particularly the gladiators in the southern senatorial a district to give the zoning a chance come 2017 and allow the north to produce the next governor to enable the issue take proper shape.