By Billy Egbe
For a multi-ethnic state like Delta, one cannot agree less that there is fairness in equity and that there is justice in equity. The statement above is the foundation and the basis for which the Delta North Senatorial District is advocating that the Governorship position remains in Delta North for another four years to commensurate the eight years tenure that Delta Central was adjudged to have enjoyed under former Governor James Ibori and erstwhile Governor Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan who was said by proponents of zoning to have served the eight years tenure of Delta South. It is also believed by many that the incumbent Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa is now serving Delta North’s own share of the zoning business.
In all of these arguments, one noteworthy thing is that the idea of zoning is one that has no concrete ground in our political history. In 1999, Delta, like every other State in Nigeria and the Nation itself experienced a historic translation from Military Dictatorship to Representative Democracy. Also noteworthy is the fact that the election that saw the emergence of Chief James Ibori as Governor did not establish a zoning formula for subsequent elections. From available records, the major contenders in Ibori’s second term election were from Delta North. In the light of the above, it therefore amounts to a self-seeking and self-serving venture for the Anioma nation that fiercely opposed Ibori’s election to now be at the forefront of the struggle for power rotation or zoning.
Now, suffice it to say that there was a zoning formula on ground, then on what ground and for what purpose did Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, Godswill Obielum and other contenders from Delta North joined the battle against Chief Ibori’s anointed candidate, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan for the PDP ticket in 2007 and even participated in the Primary election that took place in Ogwashi-uku in 2007? Also, in 2011, we had several contenders from Delta North and Central against then Gov. Emmanuel Uduaghan when a rerun election was carried out. Let’s not also forget that another Gubernatorial candidate from Delta North, Peter Okocha spent hundreds of millions of naira to challenge the election of Governor Uduaghan even to the Supreme Court.
Another substantial argument against zoning or power rotation is that in 2015 Gubernatorial election in Delta State, the intrigues that saw to the emergence of Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa as the PDP Gubernatorial flagbearer are still fresh in our minds. We saw how the absence of the existence of any zoning formula was boldly asserted by the actions of the APC candidate and the Labour Party candidate who contested against the PDP which had Dr. Okowa, a Delta Northerner as candidate. Fast forward to 2018, the story has changed and even though it is not unusual for stories to change in politics, one cannot help but wonder why it is the same set of former Gubernatorial aspirants and candidates that disregarded the zoning formula that are now at the forefront of the call for power to remain in the Delta North Senatorial District.
Taking a more holistic view at the subject of zoning, political pundits who are favourably disposed to zoning have argued that zoning is a contraption that is designed to compel better inclusiveness. However, the above submission has proven to be inconsistent with the reality on ground. Inclusiveness as a basis for the adoption of zoning can only be achieved if the Center holds and if whoever emerges as Governor after any Political gymnastics sees the need to practice politics of inclusiveness. We saw how under Chief James Ibori, political office holders from Delta North and South held and wielded REAL POLITICAL POWER – There was inclusiveness! Under the administration of the immediate past Governor, HE Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, we also saw Political office holders from Senatorial districts wielding REAL POLITICAL POWER. However, the reverse has proven to be the case with the incumbent administration. We have seen how the incumbent administration has relegated Political office holders from other Senatorial Districts especially the Delta Central politicians in the incumbent Government to the background.
With the above analysis, one can clearly see that the idea of zoning or power rotation is shrouded in deception and has never been implemented in Delta’s Gubernatorial politics. On another note, if we look at the circumstances surrounding the establishment of the State’s capital at Asaba, then every call for Power rotation or zoning should be disregarded without a second thought. That’s because whether the Governor comes from Central, North or South, Executive Power would always remain in Asaba which would in turn concentrate development in Asaba more than any other place in Delta State. However, if the proponents of zoning and power rotation are still hellbent on having the failed zoning contraption take the center stage of our politics, then I suggest that the State Capital Territory be also subjected to zoning.
Moving the State Capital from Asaba to another part of Delta State would help to speed up development around Delta State. If we look at Cross-River/Calabar, Lagos and Abuja today, they are far more urbanized than other parts of the Country because they all had the Capital rotated among them – from Calabar to Lagos and finally to Abuja. That further explains the high rate of development in those parts of the Country.
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