By Ifeanyi Obute
Nigeria,which State constitutes one of her Federal components, is a democratic Government. That makes Enugu State a full fledged Democracy.
Democracy, as defined by the legendary Abraham Lincoln, ‘is the government of the people, by the people, and for the people.’ No other Concept of Democracy, is more famous or widely accepted, than the Lincoln’s descriptions.
What this means, is that in all viable democracies, ULTIMATE AND FINAL DECISIONS, MUST EMANATE FREELY FROM THE MASSES: THE MAJORITY WILL!
What this also indicates, is that anytime, any group of persons that doesn’t constitute the majority, or a legitimate representative of the majority, gather to make declarations and assertive statements on behalf of the people, then, democracy is being scuttled and truncated.
Lobbying, suggestions, appeals, legitimate persuasions etc, are all permissible tools in the machine of democracy, but declarations, assertions, decrees etc, are alien to sound democratic ethos and ideals.
Generally speaking, there is nothing wrong with political zoning and rotation, in a socioculturally diverse setting. Matter of fact, if carefully articulated and crafted, it encourages peaceful coexistence.
But just like all moral issues, actions can not be holistically analysed without taking into cognizance the INTENTION AND CIRCUMSTANCES. Zoning and rotation, is apparently a good act, when practiced in a political and sociocultural pluralistic society, but sometimes, the intention and circumstances, could effectively nullify the goodness of the ACTION!
Taking Enugu State politics into closer analysis, without ever losing focus on the universal and fundamental import of democracy, one would see a serious conflict and confusion of personal interests, the overall need of the entirety of the state, all mired and encased in the inarticulate chants of zoning and rotation.
Like we have already affirmed, all ultimate decisions in every vibrant democracies, has to be reached at, by the majority of the people, not by some few influential persons with vested interests.
Enugu State is politically structured into 3, representing the 3 senatorial zones of Enugu North, East and West.
In 1999, when Nigeria returned to democracy after many years of military ‘interrugnums,’ Chimaroke Nnamani, an Nkanu man from Enugu East, emerged as the Executive Governor of Enugu State. His emergence could have been as a result of his zone being the last in line to have tested the position. Jim Nwobodo who’s also from Enugu East was the Governor in the 2nd Republic, after which Christian Onoh from Enugu West, and then Okwesilieze Nwodo from Enugu North. Hence, by 1999 Enugu East was the last in line…
In 1999, political expediency of the time allowed it. After all, our democracy was still nascent. People’s input wasn’t effectively taken into consideration. Enugu State self appointed leaders of thought, instituted the norm.
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After Chimaroke finished his second term in 2007, he LITERALLY APPOINTED Sullivan Chime, an Udi man from Enugu West as his successor; in continuation of the norm. A norm that tends to cut off the people’s vibrant and free input. A norm that is probably a good action when it was first instituted, although with an inexplicable intention, and a very chaotic circumstance; for there is no way the political exigencies of 1999, must precisely coincide/agree with that of 2007.
Anyways, Sullivan did his two terms, and also appointed Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi from Nsukka, Enugu North, as his successor. Governor Ugwuanyi is still doing his second term in office.
From the brief x-ray, one thing stands out clear, that the political successions in Enugu State, has literally been more of appointments than election. More feudalistic than democratic. Self appointed stakeholders started it 1999, and the Governors continued from that point. Chimaroke singlehandedly appointed Sullivan Chime. Sullivan Chime appointed Governor Ugwuanyi. Ugwuanyi wasn’t that politically popular in Enugu North zone, prior to his emergence as the State Governor, but he emerged anyways, via the ‘appointment mechanism’ that was instituted in 1999. Very sadly, elections in Enugu State, have only been taking place in order to endorse the ‘anointed one.’ I stand to be corrected, but Enugu State has never had a completely people’s elected Governor!
The zoning and rotation cycle that was instituted in 1999 for reasons that could be argued either way, would be completed in 2023. By 2023, sustainable Democracy in Nigeria and Enugu State too, will be 24 year old. A 24 year old person is very matured.
That being the case, these TWO CRUCIAL questions become essentially necessary. 1: having attained a democratic maturity, must a political culture that was adopted out of a fleeting exigency, be made to continue? 2: If a cycle or sequence is completed, couldn’t strategies and tactics be changed? Couldn’t a new cycle with a different format start? Must we perpetually consign ourselves to a political monotony? Even at the cost of subverting sound democratic ethos, ideals and praxis.
WHEN A CYCLE IS COMPLETED, IN THE INTEREST OF PEACE AND ALSO IN ADHERENCE TO AUTHENTIC DEMOCRACTIC TENETS, ALL STAKEHOLDERS MUST RETURN TO THE NEGOTIATING TABLE. THE MONOTONY CAN BE BROKEN. IN THIS PARTICULAR CASE, SINCERE EFFORTS MUST BE MADE TO ASCERTAIN THE PEOPLE’S DESIRE, AND THAT SHOULD BE APPLIED IN REACHING A DECISION.
Enugu State is not anyone’s personal business venture. The era of political dictating must end. The unfortunate political culture of appointments into elective posts, must be stopped. The tyrannical culture of some persons declaring who gets what and when, has to be fought headlong. The people must rise and reclaim their mandate!
Comrade Ifeanyi Obute, EDON’s SouthEast coordinator, writes from Enugu. 08035087201. firstname.lastname@example.org.