Friday, 31 January 2014

Speech: There Is Need For Us To Remain Focused And Vigilant



(Being Speech By President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of Nigeria At the 22nd ordinary Summit of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Friday, 31st January 2014)

Mr. Chairman

Your Excellencies

I want to thank President Johnson-Sirleaf for her eloquent presentation on the work of the High level Committee on the Post 2015 Development Agenda.  Her presentation highlighted what should drive our position in the emerging structure that will propel the Post 2015 Development Agenda, as we approach the 2015 threshold that terminates the life of the current MDGs.

There is no doubt that the MDGs have helped to refocus our attention as leaders of our countries on very critical areas of human development, including committing resources to meet the timeline and benchmarks prescribed under each segment of the eight MDGs.

Mr. Chairman, the cross-cutting nature of the eight MDGs were such that any positive outcome in one, resulted in progress in another.  Statistics showed improvements across the MDGs within Nigeria. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in 2013 acknowledged that Nigeria has halved the proportion of those who suffer from hunger way ahead of the 2015 deadline.

The net attendance levels for basic schooling have risen markedly in the country. Gender parity targets at primary and secondary education levels have been achieved. The under-five mortality and maternal health have equally seen reversal of the previously negative trend. There is continual fall in the HIV prevalence of the country. Government, in collaboration with stakeholders, is mobilizing the necessary attention needed to focus on Goals lagging behind.

Mr. Chairman, Nigeria hosted a Side Event on the MDGs in New York on the margins of the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in 2013.  The Event was attended by the Presidents of Liberia, Senegal, Ghana, many international figures and UN Officials. The experience gathered from aggregating citizens’ aspirations for a Post-MDGs era clearly shows that the current MDGs must not be sidelined. Poverty eradication should remain in focus, whilst recognizing the challenges that have impeded progress with a view to highlighting structural transformation as a panacea.

Mr. Chairman, African leaders voiced the need to ensure that the unfinished business of the MDGs is carried into the MDGs successor agenda. There is need for us to remain focused and vigilant to ensure that decisions on what forms the new framework is all inclusive, reflecting the wishes of developing countries.

Nigeria affirms the African Common Position on the Post-2015 Development Agenda as set out in the African Union policy document of March 2013. The document promotes universal and equitable access to quality healthcare, gender equality, education and human capital development, disaster risk reduction, poverty eradication, shelter provision, water resources management as well as harnessing the potentials of Africa’s growing population demographics.

There is no denying that the scale of resources needed for financing the Post 2015 Development Agenda is daunting, especially for our countries. While we continue to require the assistance of our development partners, we must also explore other sources of funding. In this regard attention should be devoted to finding our internal resources as well as collaboration among member states.

Mr. Chairman, we have the opportunity to make transformational changes throughout societies and in particular ensure that those who are most in need amongst us are given the necessary support.  I have no doubt that given the requisite commitment, these changes would be made.

 I thank you.

Article: The Nigeria Anti-gay Law And The US Abortion Law


By Kayode Ajulo, Esq.
                                               
The right of every nation state to make internal legislation without interference from others is recognized under international law. This right defines the relationship that exists between international law and domestic legal systems and, more specifically, in determining which law has priority.

With particular reference to the Anti Same-Sex Marriage legislation recently signed into law by the Nigeria’s President, H. E. Dr. Goodluck Jonathan that has resulted in wide condemnation by Western nations, I cannot deny my personal anguish, because it sets two legal disciplines to which I am subjugated – setting one against the other and contradictory answers in contention from both discipline.

The new Nigeria’s anti Same-Sex Marriage law penalizes any engagement same sex marriage or civil union, 14-year jail term is for the offenders and 10-year term for any one who directly or indirectly publicly exhibit same-sex affectionate affairs. The law also proclaims that any same-sex marriage contracted abroad will not be valid in Nigeria.

On one hand, while I choose to sympathize with the position that assigns priority to international law in view of my present interest in constitutional law, I am also inclined on the other hand to respect the priority of a national constitution in any legal system and to recognize international law as superior to all laws except national constitutions[1]of which the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria[2] is one.

However, I must admit that neither of these counter-posed systems seem conclusively superior to the other. Empirical experience tends to suggest that national judicial systems resist harmonious subordination within an international legal framework and for this reason it is not surprising that Charles Rousseau recognized that it is difficult to find in international practice anything to confirm either the supremacy of international law or that of the domestic judicial order[3].

For the most part of past centuries, scholars of constitutional law, have ignored these conflicts and focused more on the domestic judicial system and have persistently opined on the proposition that the constitution holds primacy over all existing law[4]. In few instances that they have scrutinized this relationship[5], they clearly assign priority to domestic laws[6].

With the establishment of supremacy in laws[7] into the significance and depth of the controversy surrounding Anti Same-Sex Marriage legislation in Nigeria certain facts of importance call for legal clarification in other to justify this legislation.

1.  RIGHT SAME-SEX MARRIAGE AS A SEPARATE CLAIM TO EXERCISE OF FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHT, THE UNITED STATES HUMAN RIGHTS LAW AND ABORTION LAW IN PERSPECTIVE.

Save and except in support of the supremacy of domestic laws, a violation of the Anti Same-Sex Marriage legislation must come under the ambit of fundamental human right laws which already has international protection in the area of discrimination and association.

Same-Sex Marriage cannot legally be a right to be entrenched in fundamental human right because it is not all encompassing to qualify as a right on its own but wrongs committed against  Same-Sex may accrue to them some legal remedy which are subject to exercise of a domestic law.

For example in the United States of America, the government made possible the requisite ratifications for the human right convention to enter into force but did not ratify it.

One of the principal reasons for that failure to ratify was the conflict between the Convention and the statutes of several States of the United States of America.

Article 4(1) of the Convention protects the Right to Life, and adds that "[t]his right shall be protected by law, and, in general, from the Moment of conception’[8].

The situation then just like the Anti Same-Sex Marriage legislation in Nigeria which now conflicts with America’s legislation that established a woman's right to an abortion without medical or legal justification in clear and outright violation of the fundamental human Right to Life.

The right to an abortion is presently a very controversial subject in the United States. The arguments on both sides are couched in strong religious terms just like the Gay-rights debate in Nigeria and the only way to resolve this is a Federal Law similar to the position that has now been taken by the Nigeria government.

As in the United States situation, the frailty of attempts to give priority to international law when confronted by an immediate reality of internal legal controversies is akin to the situation faced in the Nigeria that necessitated the Anti Same-Sex Marriage law which was passed based on domestic circumstances.

Encountered with the Unite States example of an Abortion Law that counters the Fundamental Human Right to Life aside with Anti Same-Sex Marriage Legislation in Nigeria and America’s condemnation of the Nigeria Government, I cannot do less than to conclude by recalling the words of Konrad Lorenz who, after extensive study of animals, was able to develop a number of profound observations on mankind that if - 
"man is not by nature as bad as the Book of Genesis affirms. . . he is not as good as our modern life demands[9]’’.

Whether a nation state that is a signatory to international accepted principles can make legislation that may tend to violate those principles in my view will be conflicting and raise serious grounds of questioning. In my opinion the ratification of the Convention implies acceptance of the obligation to guarantee the exercise of all the rights recognized by it. By accepting this obligation, the state assumes the duty to harmonize its domestic legislation with the norms of that Convention.

2.  BALANCE IN AN INFORMED LAW-MAKING PROCESS WITH RESPECT TO ANTI SAME-SEX MARRIAGE LEGISLATION IN NIGERIA – MY PERSONAL OPINON AND RECOMENDATION.

The balance here as well as what is the solution would have been a law in form of regulations of Same Sex activities in public domain. The following measures are suggested:


A. REGULATIONS:

Regulation in the form of forbidding the exhibition of such act in public glare in order not to offend others who due to their religious belief or other sentiment, may be disturbed.

This is the case in Europe in respect of restriction placed on smoking in public places as against a total ban. Similar to this is the regulation against nudity and sexual  acts in public places which is common in most societies.


B. PENALTY FOR VIOLATING REGULATIONS:

Penalty for violation of such behavioural regulations may be on- the-spot fines to culprits or a charge to court to offer an explanation to the judge for breaking the law which in most cases may incur a fine in court or an order for imprisonment depending on the merits of each case.


3.  LEGAL IMPLICATIONS OF THE ANTI SAME-SEX MARRIAGE LEGISLATION IN NIGERIA:

As a safety tip against flouting international law on human right to which Nigeria is a signatory, a similar situation should have been envisage as the balance to be legislated in adherence to fundamental human right that is now being subjected to international condemnation by the same people whose domestic laws on abortion contradicts the right to life.

The unreasonableness of Anti Same-Sex Marriage law in Nigeria is only traceable to its conflict with domestic laws of other countries condemning same and not that such law is international entrenched as part of human right is itself condemnable.

Save and except the position is change and made to reflect the present reality as advised above in the balance by way of regulation then every gay must continue to challenge every violation in Nigeria under the international human right law or face the consequences of the law.
 4.  SAMPLED OPINION FROM NIGERIANS ON THE NEW LEGISLATION:

From a random sample of 5000 people questioned by Egalitarian Mission Africa as to the merits and demerits of the Anti Same Sex Marriage Legislation.

4778 – Are in Support
216 – Are Indifferent
    6 – Are Against

The majority opinion as stated above is clearly in favour of the Legislation.

A major flaw of the new law is that it was made from one sided debate because for failure if the National Assembly or the Legislative to sample opinion widely from different quarters. More so that in arriving at their conclusions legislative did not invite those that would be affected to participate in deliberation in order for the law to have a wider acceptance.
The law were deliberated on, voted on and passed by those who themselves are predominantly not homosexual or lesbian or those objecting to the same-sex practice or those whose opinion may have been formed out of their religious beliefs without having consideration as to their reasons of importance.

There is the need for full understanding of the phenomenon of same-sex lifestyle and the need to protect the generality of the public that can’t stand it. The same way the anti-smoking law is promulgated but limited to the private walls.

Issues surrounding the same-sex marriage should be guided by deliberation, research and consultations, hence I have elected to stand in the middle, neutral and devoid of controversy except to defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as to urge that there should be neither celebration of it as the Western world is doing nor provocation about it as African governments are doing now.

(Ajulo is a Legal Practitioner and Chairman, Egalitarian Mission Africa
Abuja, Nigeria. He can be reached via +234 803 315 4349, kayode.ajulo.co@gmail.com)


Article: Lessons In Radical Social Transformation For Nigeria


By Jaye Gaskia

Ruling political elites, the ruling class everywhere globally are united in trying to discourage and discountenance the organised, conscious mass self activity of the ordinary masses, the exploited and repressed subordinate classes and segments of society, who constitute the overwhelming majority of citizens. These ruling classes everywhere are quick to project in derogatory and negative terms popular mobilization of the masses in direct mass actions, such as rallies, general strikes, mass demonstrations etc. The more potentially undermining of their authority, the more the aggressive campaign of calumny directed at such mass actions to demonize it. The quicker they try to erase its memory from popular consciousness too.

The last 7 years, particularly since the inception of the current global socio-economic crises has seen the return of huge mass demonstration, street processions, and rallies;, widespread active general strikes paralysing whole sectors, or entire national economies; as well as raging and widespread pitched street battles between security forces and the aroused population.

Before the revival of the mass protest movement of the last few years, it was fashionable and conventional for ruling classes all over the world to promote, perpetuate, and perpetrate the self defeating myth that real and significant transformational change only come through the gradual routine of existing conventional constitutional order. The emergence and revival of the Global Occupy Movement, in its many variegated streams and strands since 2007, has given the lie to this self serving and self perpetuating myth of change being possible only within the confines of existing constitutional order.

So the Occupy Wall street movement, inspired a revived global occupy movement across Europe, reinforced by mass general strikes. And then came the Occupation of Tunis, and the whole of Tunisia; the occupation of Cairo, and subsequently of Egypt as a whole; the Occupation of Benghazi, stretching out until Tripoli was also occupied; and ofcourse the Occupation of Nigeria with a paralysing nationwide mass general strike, combined with nationwide mass protests, which overcame more than 55 cities and towns at its height and paralysed the entire country in January 2012. The tremors and aftershocks of that January Uprising continued to threaten the polity all through 2012 and well into 2013.

Since then we have witnessed the phenomenon of permanent revolution unfold in Egypt as well as Tunisia, and more pronouncedly in Syria, where a civil war between the repressive regime, and a mass protest movement forced to arm itself, has been ongoing for more than 3 years. 2013 also saw the global wave of resistance berth in Turkey, which has since then witnessed several waves of turmoultous convulsions.

Not even Russia has been spared this wave of popular resistance, signifying a global revolutionary crisis, and presaging a global revolutionary situation. And now since November of 2013, Ukraine has been convulsing in a quickly maturing revolutionary crisis.

In the Americas and in Europe and the giant economies of Asia, concessions were forced from the ruling classes, forcing hasty reviews of conventional and received wisdom; in Latin America the movement towards electoral victories of popular left parties gained in strength and acquired renewed momentum. In the Arab spring across Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, governments were toppled, and their successors sent packing in quick succession. New constitutions were won, with tentative steps being taken towards new constitutional orders, under the watchful gaze of the popular masses in more or less permanent occupation of the streets.

In Iran, a hugely significant concession was won in the election of a new president intent on travelling a slightly different road from that of the arch conservative clerical autocracy.

In Syria, as well as in Turkey, in very contrasting contexts, existing regimes remain recalcitrant, while the mass protest movement have remained determined, leading to armed stalemate in Syria, and a civil stalemate in Turkey.

In Ukraine as we write, concessions are being wrested in quick successions from the regime, by a rapidly evolving mass uprising, that is growing increasingly self confident. And in Russia, even Russia, symbolic concessions are being won.

The most significant universal lesson being re-taught by the global experience of this 'season of anomie' is that settled constitutional orders, and with this, stable constitutionalism are the outcome of significant general mass societal upheavals; The magna-carta was won after an uprising; the American Declaration of Independence and constitution after a popular rebellion that overthrew colonialism; the defunct Soviet constitution and Soviet Union after the October Revolution of 1917; the current Russian constitution after the revolution that overthrew the soviet bloc order; the new South Africa and its new constitution after the victorious anti-apartheid struggle; the outlawing of segregation the American south after the mass upheavals of the civil rights movement. Need we go on with potent examples?

The implication of this global lesson for us in Nigeria is twin fold; the lie of the myth of significant radical transformative change occurring only within the bounds of existing constitutional order; as well as the futility of continuing to expect that we can make the revolutionary leap forward into a more socially just, more equitable prosperous future without witnessing deep seething revolutionary ferment, a fundamental rupture with the existing order, and the radical overturning and supercedence of existing constitutional order.

The import to me seems to be clear that, in this significant year of the national dialogue/national conference process, in this important year of the eve of the general elections with the deep seethed ferment in society in general, and tearing apart historical bonds within the treasury looting ruling elites in particular; in this year of the centenary; unless we stage a massive return to the streets, and revive our Occupation of Nigeria; unless we meet the power of the ruling elites with the power of our own 'massquake', we would not be able to achieve the goal and objective of a new constitutional order more favourable for us, and protective of our collective interests.

Without taking active concrete steps to re-occupy Nigeria, there will be no revolutionary leap forward, much less a new socially just constitution and constitutional order.

The choice is ours to make; the moment because it is characterized by crisis that is undermining of the existing order is auspicious; the timing is ripe; the harvest awaits our combined harvester.

In the words of Murtala Mohammed, at the height of Nigeria's frontline role in the struggle to conclude the decolonisation of Nigeria; 'This is the time to reflect, to rethink, and to act'.

Our Destiny Is In Our Own Hands; Let Us Act Together To Take Back Nigeria Now.

Organise Now! Mobilize Now!! Act Now!!!


(Follow me on Twitter: @jayegaskia & [DPSR]protesttopower; Interact with me on FaceBook: Jaye Gaskia & Take Back Nigeria)

Photonews: Traditional Warriors Of Jos Nigeria


Thursday, 30 January 2014

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Article: Paradox Of Zoning In Nigeria’s Enugu State




By Dr. SKC Ogbonnia

A zoning policy of the ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party of Nigeria (PDP), is tearing Enugu State apart. The issue of zoning was largely dormant until Governor Sullivan Chime announced that the Enugu North Senatorial Zone would produce the next governor. Chime’s pronouncement carries weight for an obvious reason: Given that the opposition is historically disenfranchised in Enugu State since the 4th Republic, a saddening consensus seems to be that a PDP governorship nominee would ultimately prevail in the 2015. Although the state had adopted some form of arrangements for sharing political offices in the past, the current zoning debate is uniquely different. Not only does a section of Governor Chime’s zone believe it is its turn to rule, the zoning issue has drawn the governor against his fellow party heavyweight in Senator Ike Ekweremadu, the Deputy Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Here are the main items and in alphabetical order:

Old Awgu Division: This zone has a deep history with cries for marginalization. They cry, and rightly so, that it should have been a separate senatorial zone. They cry that, considering its overflowing population, the area should have produced more than its current three local governments and more council wards. Further, they drum that, whether by national or Enugu State average, they should be accorded more than one representative at the National Assembly. More relatively, the people are miffed at the fact that (even after they added some towns that used to belong to the present Anambra State) Awgu is the only old Division that has never produced a democratic governor in Enugu State. Their main argument has been that the State is a product of three old divisions: Awgu, Nsukka, and Udi, which is so true. While Nsukka had produced a democratic governor in Okwesilieze Nwodo, old Udi Division has already given the state Jim Nwobodo, C. C. Onoh, Chimaroke Nnamani, and Sullivan Chime. The Awgu people should also say that while the only two public universities in the state (UNN and ESUT) are located in old Nsukka and old Udi, respectively; Awgu has another none. More worryingly, granted that the current Deputy Senate President of the Senate hails from this area, Greater Awgu should argue, and very persuasively, that it is probably one of the few old divisions—if not the only old division—that is yet to produce an indigene as federal minister or an ambassador in a democratic setting.

Old Nsukka Division: The people of this area have two zoning propositions. The first is that the current Enugu State is made up of two senatorial zones of the 2nd Republic—Nsukka and Enugu, which is very true. Their point here is that whereas the old Enugu Senatorial zone has given birth to the present Enugu West and Enugu East; Old Nsukka Division (now Enugu North) has remained one senatorial zone. To them, power should be rotating between old Nsukka and old Enugu senatorial zones, period. In that case, there is nothing so strange that two universities are located in Enugu State—one in old Nsukka zone and the other in old Enugu zone. While the people of Nsukka should not ignore the different powerful positions held by Dr. Okwy Nwodo in the national ruling party and a couple of ambassadorial postings in the current democratic dispensation; like their Awgu counterparts, they should also add that, of all the ministers thus far produced from Enugu State since army gave way in 1999, none has been considered from Nsukka area. In the same vein, come 2015, the present day Enugu State (after Ebonyi State) might have seen 16 years of democratic rule, with old Enugu senatorial zone retaining the governorship through that long period. The second proposition is that, even if the zoning is viewed on the basis of the current senatorial structure, the Enugu North then becomes the only area that is yet to produce a governor in the reigning 4th Republic. The latter was potent in Governor Chime’s decision to finally zone the PDP governorship slot in 2015 to Nsukka senatorial area. (But that is PDP. Other parties may have their plans).

Enter Old Udi Division: Old Udi Division is made up of the present Enugu East (Nkanu) and Udi/Ezeagu portion of Enugu West Senatorial zone and has seen more political opportunities than its counterparts. First of all, it begot a separate senatorial zone in Enugu East (Nkanu). Second, the Udi/Ezeagu area of the Old Udi Division has produced the only two governors associated to its new senatorial zone (Enugu West)—a zone it now shares with old Awgu Division. So why complain? Actually, the people (particularly Nkanu—now Enugu East) care less. The Enugu East seems contented for having produced Governors Jim Nwobodo, Chimaroke Nnamani, and Senate President Ken Nnamani. But the citizens of Udi/Ezeagu axis are saying something different. A good number of them are angry with their brother governor, Sullivan Chime. In terms of distribution of resources, Chime is widely viewed as polar opposite to Chimaroke, which ordinarily should be hailed. However, his people are craving for more in terms of infrastructural development. They are fuming that, instead of using part of his eight years in office to makeup for marginalization of Enugu West and North under Governor Chimaroke Nnamani, Brother Sullivan is focusing again on Enugu East (particularly the state capital). For example, despite its well-known hunger for education, Enugu West (including Greater Awgu) is the only zone without the presence of a university in Enugu State. This lack of infrastructural development apparently explains why a number of Udi critics have objectively pointed out that the present Enugu West could be doomed if by Chime’s calculation Nsukka produces the next governor. Not that these critics are against their brothers and sisters from Nsukka. None of that!  They only worry that the main purpose of zoning is already dashed, especially considering that Governor Chime did not overly concentrate developments in his native Udi talkless of Enugu West. In other words, should an Enugu North PDP governor emerge in 2015, which is likely, and becomes another Chimaroke and focuses in his native village and Nsukka area, which is very possible; what then becomes the fate of the people of Enugu West of Udi/Ezeagu and Greater Awgu? This question should not be difficult for Governor Chime. 

Sullivan has over one year left and can proclaim a university in a New York minute. (And His Excellency can be rest assured that towns in Enugu West will be most willing to volunteer their prime hills for a befitting site. Even better, any location in Greater Awgu sufficiently addresses in particular the marginalization sorrows of Old Awgu Division and potentially answers critics who have maintained that Enugu West as a zone deserves a university).

A governor versus a senator: Combined with the current zoning palaver, the individual political ambitions of two princes-turned-politicians have created a social upheaval and serious political conflict in Enugu State. On the one side, reminiscent of Abacha style, unfolding events clearly show that the Executive Governor and leader of PDP in the state, Prince Sullivan Chime, has zoned to himself the senate seat presently held by the Deputy Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Ike Ekweremadu—on the basis of a new norm that the Nigerian Senate is a resting lounge for ex-governors toward retirement. After all, former governors from the state: Jim Nwobodo and Chimaroke Nnamani both took that route before finally bowing out from heated politics, and many governors from other states are also warming up for the upper chamber. On the other side, as if Nigeria’s democracy has suddenly advanced like that of the

United States of America or was designed as a monarchy like Saudi Arabia; having been schemed out of the governorship ticket now zoned by his party to Enugu North, Prince Ekweremadu now believes that going back to the senate for an unprecedented 4th term offers an important compromise.

As seen above, the two men occupying the two positions overheating the polity are both from Enugu West Senatorial Constituency. Even as the people should fervently pray that opposition is born again in Enugu State, if by any chance the original Ebeano clique of PDP dominates again in 2015; which zone then produces the next senator from Enugu West?  If the logic of Governor Chime is to truly hold, and there are three principal zones in Enugu State (Enugu East, Enugu North, and Enugu West Senatorial zones) as stated in the Constitution, which is the truth; it also goes to say that there are five constitutional zones in Enugu West senatorial district (Aninri, Awgu, Ezeagu, Oji-River, and Udi local governments). Since zoning is supposed to be based on equitable distribution of offices, and a governor and senator from two different local governments are at war over a senate seat, it is necessary to review the number of years each local government (zone) of Enugu West has produced governors and senators in democratic settings since independence:

Aninri LGA (2006 census: 133,723): Governor: Zero. Senate: 17 years (approx.)—5 years of Senator Michael Chukwubuike (1st Republic); and by 2015, 12 years of Senator Ike Ekweremadu (4th Republic).
Awgu LGA (2006 census: 390,681—most populated local government in Enugu State): Governor: Zero; Senator: Zero

Ezeagu LGA (2006 census: 169, 718): Governor: Zero. Senate: 9 years (approx.)—5 years of Senator Pius Ndu (1st Republic); 1year and 6 months of Senator Collins Ndu (3rd Republic); and 2 years and 3 months of Senator Collins Ndu (4th Republic).

Oji-River LGA (2006 census: 126,587): Governor: Zero. Senate: 6 years—4 years of Senator B. C. Okwu (2nd Republic); 3 months of Senator Sydney Mgbejiofor (2nd Republic); and 1 year and 9 months of Senator Hyde Onuaguluchi (4th Republic).

Udi LGA (2006 census: 234,002): Governor: 8 years and 3 months—3 months of Governor C.C. Onoh (2nd Republic); and by 2015, 8 years of Governor Sullivan Chime. Senate: Zero.

Some grumblings are expected here. Governor Chime’s team will attempt to eat their cakes and still have it. They will prefer to shift from the criteria used at the state level and argue that zoning of offices in Enugu West is rotated between the cultural divide of Greater Awgu and Udi/Ezeagu. Assuming that wish is granted, they should also not forget that there are zones within Greater Awgu as there are zones within Udi/Ezeagu.

Greater Awgu (Aninri, Awgu, and Oji-River LGAs): With an interesting exception of the large town of Nenwe, which is lately largely ignored, most powerful positions zoned to Greater Awgu in the 4th Republic (e.g., Chief of Staff to Governor, Secretary to State Government, Chairman of the State ruling party, Speaker, and Senator, and other juicy board memberships, etc.) are disproportionately concentrated in Aninri LGA, particularly at the ancient triangle of Mpu/ Oduma /Okpanku brotherhood. Therefore, since Ike Ekweremadu of Mpu in the same Aninri Local Government Area might have stayed 12 years in the Senate by 2015, the most equitable thing (under Governor Chime’s constitutional zoning formula) is to ensure that the next juicy political office from Greater Awgu (including the senate) is zoned to Awgu Local Government—being the most populated but most marginalized area in Enugu State.  If the people then resort to the long-standing cultural template of rotating positions between old Awgu LGA and Oji-River, though piebald, Oji-River Local Government Area should be considered. (The position of Member Federal House of Reps is purposely left out in this report because, apart from Aninri, every Local Government Area in Enugu West has at one time or the other sent someone to sit at the lower house in the current republic).

Greater Udi (Udi and Ezeagu LGAs): Perhaps the present Udi LGA has never smelled the senate seat per se. However, apart from other various powerful state appointments, Udi LGA alone might have enjoyed 8 years of governorship by 2015 in Sullivan Chime and produced three ministers in Chief Dubem Onyia, Mrs. Fidelia Njeze, and Prof. Chinedu Nebo—all in the current republic—as compared to Ezeagu’s mere 2 years and 3 months in the Senate. Thus, the most equitable thing is to ensure that the next major political office in this area (including the senate) is zoned to Ezeagu LGA.

The apparent gist is that zoning in Enugu State is a paradox. If zoning has become the name for internal democracy within PDP and based on principles, which Governor Chime has sworn to profess; regardless of the angle one views it—be it on the prism of Greater Awgu and Udi/Ezeagu cultural equation or on the governor’s rationale for adopting current political divisions; both the governor (His Excellency Sullivan Chime) of Udi Local Government Area and the Distinguished Senator Ike Ekweremadu of Aninri Local Government Area are (and should be) zoned out in 2015. In fairness, they should brotherly step aside and allow more deserving zones or towns to produce the next senator from Enugu West.

Perhaps this writer has never been an ardent proponent of zoning. Under normal circumstances, citizens should emphasize leadership qualities and effectiveness—and not what zone produces who or how long the who stays in office. But our cases are not normal. Nigerian politicians are something else and definitely not known for equity and fairness in terms of distribution of opportunities. The objective fact in this case is that both Sullivan Chime and Ike Ekweremadu are original Ebeano protégés and have not disappointed in promoting its core principles of hegemony and nepotism. Of course, we appreciate Governor Chime’s footprints, such as a first-rate road network across the state. We also recognize his efforts to centralize amenities in Enugu State (with particular attention to the state capital). But what has consistently escaped the minds of the people is the fact that, like Governor Chimaroke Nnamani before him, Chime’s plum appointments are palmed in his native area. Take away the lone case of Prof. Barth Nnaji of Enugu East, which the governor had stoutly opposed; the other Enugu State indigenes appointed federal ministers during Chime’s regime are his epigones from Udi LGA. Today, the governor, the minister, and the sole level A ambassador from the state, the Nigerian Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein—are all filled from the same Udi LGA. Similarly, his storied accomplishments (including constituency-wide projects) notwithstanding, the star attractions of Senator Ike Ekweremadu while in the Senate are best sighted from Mpu, being his native town in Aninri LGA.

Stepping aside of these two politicians will do themselves as well as the state some good. To start with, both Chime and Ekweremadu have been in power for too long without any semblance of opposition talkless of the essential checks and balances. “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  More frontally, their stepping aside will create an atmosphere of peace. It will also help for even opportunities and in the process facilitate the long anticipated emergence of a new generation of leaders from this state. Besides, these Ebeano brothers should not be gasping like fish out of water; for there is life after elective office. We pray that they can go on to become something bigger—far beyond the primordial politics of Enugu State—and they should.

After all, Bola Tinubu of Lagos State stepped aside but will be better remembered for his post governorship efforts in helping to create what is shaping to become the much awaited two-party system in our country. Likewise, even though he stayed only 4 years in the senate, Senator Ken Nnamani has found ways to sustain the visions and attributes that have continued to endear him to the Nigerian masses.

(Dr. Ogbonnia writes from Houston, Texas. He can be reached on: Phone: 281-802-3449, SKCOgbonnia@firsttexasenergy.com)