Many people have been saying that Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, shouldn’t have allowed the current hullabaloo over who should succeed him in 2023, or which of the three senatorial districts of Enugu State should produce his successor to continue, after all, none of his predecessors ever created room for any such discussion when they were in power. They just picked whoever they wanted, and everybody started dancing towards that direction.

Former Governor Chimaroke Nnamani allowed everybody to continue to grope in the dark over his possible successor, or which zone the person would come from. They were his guided secrets, not known even to any member of his inner caucus. Nobody dared make any move towards that aspiration, else he would instantly lose out. His former deputy, Okechukwu Itanyi, former Secretary to the State Government, Dan Shere, former Commissioner for Education, Martin Chukwuwike, etc., could tell better.

When Governor Nnamani later picked Sullivan Chime as his successor, many people were surprised, because Sullivan Chime was not known to be a strong party member, and therefore, was never in contention for the governorship of the state. Yet, Chimaroke stuck to Sullivan Chime, and ensured that he delivered him.

During the period of former Governor Sullivan Chime, he equally did not give any room for people to start talking about who would succeed him. He just woke up one morning, called some people to a meeting at Nike Lake Resort Hotel, and told them that his successor would come from Enugu North Senatorial Zone (Anyi ejewe Nsukka), even though he did not mention any name.

Many people were surprised, including former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who complained that there was no previous consultation. Chime did not listen to anybody. When Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi later emerged as gubernatorial candidate after the primary election, Chime followed it up and ensured that Ugwuanyi won the main election.

This time around, everything has changed. Ever since, we have been hearing cacophony of voices over who should succeed Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as Governor of Enugu State in 2023, or which zone would produce his successor. Both in the social media, and in the conventional press, the debate is very hot, in particular, whether Enugu Governorship is rotatory or not. That is to say, whether there was an agreement that the governorship of Enugu State should rotate among the three senatorial districts of the state, or there was no such agreement.

Beyond media debates, many people have equally trooped out to the streets to press home their view on Ugwuanyi’s possible successor in 2023, particularly where such fellow should come from. Sometime late last year, there was a mega rally held at Nsukka, Enugu North Senatorial Zone, tagged “Odinma Nsukka”, where people of the area gathered in their number to bare their minds on the 2023 Enugu governorship race. The rally was attended by notable political stakeholders in the zone, irrespective of their political party affiliations.

The “Odinma Nsukka” rally acknowledged the fact that there was zoning of governorship position in Enugu State, and that their son, the incumbent Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, is a product of that arrangement. They however differed over who should succeed Governor Ugwuanyi in 2023, because while a good number of them were magnanimous to concede that the position should shift to Enugu East Senatorial Zone, some few others, contended that since the position has gone round, the 2023 governorship should start from them, being the last to pick the slot.

A few days ago, there was another mega rally tagged “Oganiru Enugu East Senatorial Zone” held at the Michael Okpara Square, Enugu, which equally brought together many political stakeholders from the zone and across political party line. The people spoke with one voice, that since under the present political dispensation the governorship of Enugu State has gone round the three senatorial zones, it will be their turn to produce the next governor in 2023.

The Enugu West Senatorial Zone is yet to organize their own “mega rally”, but we have been hearing divergent views from some notable politicians from the area on the issue. While some were in agreement that there was indeed a zoning arrangement, and that the 2023 governorship should go to where it started in 1999, that is, Enugu East Senatorial Zone, some others denied that there was no time the people of the state sat down and drew up an agreement on how the governorship position would rotate among the three senatorial zones of Enugu State, and therefore, that the 2023 race should be thrown open.

We find these debates very interesting, and see them as democracy in action. People should be given freedom to air their views on issues that concern them, their future, and the future of their children. This is where we give our thumbs up to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for creating a conducive atmosphere that made it possible for many people in Enugu State to freely express their views on the vexatious issue of zoning of governorship position in the state.

It is not that Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi was not capable of coming out boldly, like his predecessors, to decide who he would prefer as his successor, who would ensure the continuity of his programme, and to say whether there was zoning or not, as well as the circumstances that led to his emergence as Governor in 2015. It is because Ugwuanyi is running a government of inclusiveness, where government actions are based on the expressed will of the people, and not just on capricious will of one man sitting in his cosy office, without considering the fate of millions of people entrusted into his care.

We find these current debates not wasteful, but as helping to enrich the democratic process. At the end of the day, all these views expressed will be collated, synthesized, and the most popular one, or the course of line that will to be more beneficial or cause lesser friction, taken. That’s what happens in a democracy, which we believe, the path Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has chosen to thread. We hail him.

Dr. Dons Eze, KSJI

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