Anambra State, which is indigenous to the Igbos of the South-East, deserves the slogan “the light of the nation”. It is truly the light of the nation. Anambra is the home-state of the late Zik of Africa, Nnamdi Azikiwe; second republic Vice President Alex Ekwueme; and former Commonwealth Secretary General Emeka Anyaoku. Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Adichie, and Chukwuemeka Ike, all globally recognised writers, also hail from Anambra. Dora Akunyili, the nemesis of fake drug manufacturers in Nigeria, hails from the state too. So is Philip Emeagwali, the computer expert. In sports, the state has produced such sports personalities as Mary Onyali, Innocent Egbunike, and Mikel Obi.
In addition to possessing distinguished people in diverse areas of human endeavour, Anambra has its footprint in commerce, boasting one of the largest markets in West Africa. It is the hub of commerce in the entire South-East. Millions of people earn their living doing business in Onitsha and Nnewi markets. Given its critical importance to the economic development of Nigeria, the state’s political stability is therefore imperative.
Peter Obi, the current state governor, has done much to stabilise the Anambra polity in the last eight years. His tenure comes to an end soon. In the coming weeks, the state shall witness a season of political posters and brain-storming by those who want to succeed Obi.
In the past, during Chinwoke Mbadinuju’s inglorious reign in the state, Anambra was bedevilled by bad leadership and rocked by criminality and instability. Then, schools were closed for long periods since teachers downed tools to protest the non-payment of their salaries. Criminal gangs would put policemen to flight, which necessitated the drafting in of a vigilance outfit, the Bakassi Boys, to restore normalcy to the state. Chris Ngige, who succeeded Mbadinuju, excelled in road rehabilitation, which has become a good praxis in the area of road repair in the annals of Anambra politics.
The state has been witnessing steady growth and enjoying peace and unity since Obi took the mantle of leadership as Anambra governor. He has repaired many roads and constructed new ones. In line with his educational policy and roadmaps, he returned schools to the churches to ensure efficient management of the schools. He has also been donating computers to post-primary schools so as to put the students at the cutting edge of computer knowledge. One’s knowledge of computer technology is the tool one will use to navigate one’s way in our internet and jet age. Similarly, the governor has done revolutionary works in the health sector in the state.
An astute manager of men and resources, Obi wants his successor to be a seasoned political leader who can sustain the tempo and momentum of development in the state. People who can steer the state to greatness abound in the state’s three senatorial zones. But, not unaware that political stability and unity are the foundations for development in a state, he suggests that the next governor be chosen from Anambra North senatorial zone.
In line with this thought pattern, and in the interest of fairness, equity, egalitarianism and justice, the next governor of Anambra State should come from Anambra North senatorial zone. Since the new Anambra State came into being in 1991, no person from Anambra North has ruled the state. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, who ruled the state between 1991 and 1993, hails from Anambra South; Mbadinuju, who was governor from 1999 to 2003, is from Anambra South; Chris Ngige, who was in the saddle of leadership in the state between 2003 and 2006, hails from Anambra Central; and Obi, who has been ruling the state since 2006, comes from Anambra Central.
Proponents of strict adherence to democratic ideals and ethos insist that the contest for the governorship post should be open to all people in the state. They argue that it is undemocratic to shut out people from outside Anambra North from the next governorship contest. However, in order for us to achieve peace and unity and attain great economic and technological heights, we should evolve democratic ideals and ethos to suit our cultural peculiarities. Imitating the western models of democracy sheepishly and foolishly won’t augur well for our development. Rather, we ought to adapt western models of democracy to our cultural and social realities in order to guarantee peace and progress in our home state of Anambra.
Recall that in order to ensure the continued corporate existence of Nigeria, northern interests and other kingmakers helped Olusegun Obasanjo to become president in 1999 on the ticket of the PDP. This was a conciliatory move because MKO Abiola, who was Obasanjo’s ethnic brother, was denied the presidency in 1993 after he had won the election of June 12 of that year.
So, in the case of Anambra, in the interest of fairness, Anambra North should be given the political platforms to actualise their dream of producing the next governor of the state. The zone has seasoned and tested politicians who can lead the state to greatness if offered the opportunity. Joy Emodi, Margery Okadigbo and Oseloka Obaze are just few examples.
CHIEDU UCHE OKOYE
Okoye, a poet, writes from Uruowulu-Obosi, Anambra State