The attention of the Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law, Nigeria’s leading research and investigative rights and democracy group; has again been drawn over attempts by some persons and groups to change a central referee at the middle of a crucial football match. This is with respect to elective Governorship shift in Anambra State. Intersociety had on February 24, 2020, released the result of an investigation carefully conducted by Democracy & Good Governance department of the Organization headed by Barr Chinwe Umeche. We hereby renew our strong but persuasive call on all Governorship aspirants and electorates from Anambra Central and Anambra North Senatorial Districts to allow and support the emergence of a popular and credible Governor from Anambra South as the next elected Governor of Anambra State in the forthcoming Nov 2021 Governorship Poll.
By Law, Equity & Fairness, Next Anambra Gov Must Come From South: Intersociety had after its careful study of the position of Anambra’s Governorship Seat and its rotation among the State’s Three Senatorial Districts since May 29, 1999, found that ‘going by the 1999 Constitution which is the grundnorm or chief basic law of the country since May 29, 1999, the Anambra South Senatorial District, beyond all arguments, sentiments and excuses, is the next Senatorial District to produce the next Governor of the State in the forthcoming Nov 2021 Governorship Election’. Anambra South is made up of Ihiala sub zone (Ihiala and Ekwusigo LGAs), Nnewi sub zone (Nnewi North and Nnewi South LGAs) and Old Aguata sub zone (Aguata, Orumba North and Orumba South LGAs). The call of ours was made and is still being made in line with principles of equity, fairness and collective security as well as the spirit and letters of Sections 14 (4) and 42 of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 as amended.
Condition Under Which Anambra South Cannot Produce Next Gov: The only way the Anambra South Senatorial District will legitimately and credibly be denied the next Governorship Seat of Anambra State is whereby the Senatorial District declines or indicates unwillingness and inability to field candidates in any or all of the three dominant political parties in the State. The decision by the Anambra South Senatorial District in this respect must be collective and endorsed by all the Traditional Rulers, President-Generals, Secretary-Generals and Village Heads in all the communities of Aguata, Orumba North, Orumba South, Nnewi North, Nnewi South, Ekwusigo and Ihiala LGAs as well as all traditional chief priests/prime ministers and indigenous clergies of the Catholics, Anglicans, Pentecostals and the African Instituted Churches in all the communities. The resolutions, if any, shall also be communicated to the incumbent Governor of Anambra and 30 members of the State House of Assembly and their speaker and the State’s three Senators and 11 members of the House of Reps, in addition to same being advertised in ten major newspapers and television outfits.
Legal & Conventional Permissibility: In our analysis of the Anambra Governorship seats (since May 29, 1999), the Doctrine of Necessity and provisions of the country’s 1999 Constitution were duly considered. For instance, in the eyes of the Doctrine of Necessity, Dr. Chris Ngige was ‘Anambra Governor between May 29, 1999 and March 17, 2006’. This is because ‘nature abhors vacuum’. But in the eyes of the ‘Case-Law’ and provisions of Section 287 (2) of the 1999 Constitution and relevant others, he was an interloper Governor having had his governorship judicially declared null and void. Going by same legal and conventional permissibility, Mr. Peter Obi’s eight years tenure, built on judicial interpretation of then Section 188 (2) of the 1999 Constitution, was legally and conventionally counted to have lasted from March 17, 2006 to March 17, 2014. This is notwithstanding the fact that his tenure saw Mr. Nnamdi Emmanuel Uba spending about 17 days in office (May 29, 2007 to around June 15, 2007) and Dame Virginia Etiaba holding sway for three months (Nov 2006-Feb 2007) during his unlawful impeachment.
How Anambra Governorship Seat Had Rotated Since 29th May 1999: With a four-year tenure, renewable once, if re-elected; the State was governed for four years (29th May 1999-29th May 2003) by Dr. CC Mbadinuju from Ihiala sub-zone of the Anambra South Senatorial District; nearly three years (29th May 2003-17th March 2006) through doctrine of necessity (later declared by courts as an interloper government) by Dr Chris Ngige from Idemmili sub-zone of the Anambra Central Senatorial District; eight years (17th March 2006-17th March 2014) by Mr. Peter Obi from Anaocha sub-zone of the same Anambra Central Senatorial District; and eight years (17th March 2014 -17th March 2022) by Mr. Willie Obiano from Omambala sub-zone of the Anambra North Senatorial District.
Anambra South About To Be Shortchanged By Another Eight Years: Therefore, on account of a minimum of eight years term each taken by the Anambra Central (plus additional three years) and the Anambra North, the Anambra South was short-changed by four years and is about to be shortchanged for another eight years. In other words, while Anambra Central occupied the elective seat of the Governor of Anambra State for eleven years, legally and illegally, by 17th March 2022, the Anambra North would have stayed in the same office for eight years; all as against Anambra South which took only four years.
No Room For “Nwadi-Ani” Or “Ndi-Nnem Ochie” Sentiments: The Anambra Governorship shift to the South must be devoid of ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ or quipping up sentiments on the grounds of “Nwadi-Ani” or “Ndi-Nnem Ochie”. That is to say that ‘if A is presently holding forth for another Senatorial District as a Senator representing the District and is interested in vying for Anambra Governorship, same A must not trespass but wait for the turn of A’s Senatorial District. Snatching the Anambra Governorship by ‘clever’ and under the disguise of “Nwadi-Ani” or “Ndi Nnem Ochie”; thereby paving the way for same Senatorial District with eleven years of uninterrupted occupation of the same seat (29th May 2003-17th March 2014) is not only unfair and greedy, but must also not be allowed.
Constitutionality Of the Governorship Shift In Anambra: Sections 14 (4) and 42 of the 1999 Constitution are very clear and unambiguous as it concerns governorship shift or rotation in Anambra State. While Section 42 prohibits all forms of social, economic, cultural and political discrimination, Section 14 (4) provides that: “the composition of a State, a local government council or agencies of such Government shall be done in a manner as to recognize the diversity of the people within the area (senatorial district balancing or rotation) and conduct its affairs in such a manner as to promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among all the peoples of the area and the Federation of Nigeria”.
Binding Agreements On Governorship Rotation In Anambra: From available records, there are binding and irrevocable agreements on Governorship Shift in Anambra, popularized under the Administration of Mr. Peter Obi. As recently as 2017 when Anambra was close to the last gubernatorial election, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, as he then was, together with many other influential leaders of thought in Anambra, advanced the zoning principle and declared publicly that Anambra North be allowed to complete their second term. In the same 2017, a number of some non-partisan stakeholders and groups met at different fora and resolved that only political parties that selected their candidate from Anambra North should be considered by Anambra voters. Participants included the Anambra Union comprising politicians, academics, retired public officers, etc.
Also, the Anambra State chapter of Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo, at a joint meeting with traditional rulers and President Generals of all the autonomous communities of the State on May 16, 2017 at Awka, enjoined all political parties to pick their flag bearers from Anambra North for the then coming Anambra Governorship poll. Anambra State Association of Trade Unions (ASATU), representing all communities and towns in the State, through its President, Chief Alex Onukwe, said they believed in the sanctity of zoning as the basis of political power-sharing in the State. Anambra Traditional Rulers used the opportunity of their two-day yearly seminar to drum support for zoning. Speaking through Igwe Dr. Emeka Iluno (Ifite-Dunu) and Igwe Austin Ozoemena (Isiagu), the traditional rulers stressed that zoning “will not only engender peaceful politicking, but will also reduce cost and campaigns of calumny”.
As lately as March 4, 2020, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, former Commonwealth scribe and Chairman of the Anambra State Traditional Rulers Council, Igwe Nnaemeka A. Achebe, the Obi of Onitsha, led the Elders Council in a meeting with Governor Willie Obiano where this issue, among others, was agreed and communicated in a press release. The Council reiterated its position on the rotation of the office of the Governor among the three senatorial zones in the state, and hence its expectation that the next Governor of the State will come from the Anambra South Senatorial District. These are just to mention but a few.
For: Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law