A civil rights group, the International Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law (Intersociety), has decried attempts by some persons and groups to change the existing power sharing arrangement in Anambra State. Intersociety disclosed that it has carefully studied the position of the governorship and its rotation among the three Senatorial Districts since May 29, 1999.
“We found that going by the 1999 Constitution, which is the grundnorm or chief basic law of the country since 29th May 1999, the Anambra South Senatorial District, beyond all arguments, sentiments and excuses, is the next Senatorial District to produce the next governor in the forthcoming November 6, 2021 Governorship Election.”
In a statement to The Guardian by the chairman of its Board of Trustees, Mr. Emeka Umeagbalasi and Head of Good Governance, Chinwe Umeche, Intersociety declared that the move to deny Anambra South the governorship slot in the November 6 governorship poll is akin to changing a central referee at the middle of a crucial football match.
Stressing the need to eschew acrimony in the governorship selection process, the group stated: “We hereby renew our strong but persuasive call on all governorship aspirants and the electorate from Anambra Central and Anambra North Senatorial Districts to allow and support the emergence of a popular and credible governor from Anambra South as the next elected governor of Anambra State in the forthcoming November 2021 governorship poll.”
The rights group declared that based on law, equity and fairness, the next governor must come from Anmbra South, whether from Ihiala sub-zone, comprising Ihiala and Ekwusigo Local Government Areas, Nnewi sub-zone (Nnewi North and Nnewi South LGAs) or old Aguata sub-zone (Aguata, Orumba North and Orumba South LGAs).
“Our demand is in line with principles of equity, fairness and collective security as well as the spirit and letters of Sections 14 (4) and 42 of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 as amended,” it stated.
According to Intersociety; “The only way Anambra South Senatorial District will legitimately and credibly be denied the next governorship eeat of Anambra State is whereby the Senatorial District declines or indicates unwillingness and inability to field candidates in any or all of the three dominant political parties in the state.
“The decision by the Anambra South Senatorial District in this respect must be collective and endorsed by all the traditional rulers, president-generals, secretary-generals and village heads in all the communities of Aguata, Orumba North, Orumba South, Nnewi North, Nnewi South, Ekwusigo and Ihiala LGAs as well as all traditional chief priests/prime ministers and indigenous clergies of the Catholic, Anglican, Pentecostal and the African Instituted Churches in all the communities.
“The resolutions, if any, shall also be communicated to the incumbent governor of Anambra and 30 members of the state House of Assembly and their speaker and the state’s three Senators and 11 members of the House of Reps, in addition to same being advertised in 10 major newspapers and television outfits.”
The group outlined that in its analysis of the Anambra governorship seats from May 29, 1999, “the Doctrine of Necessity and provisions of the country’s 1999 Constitution were duly considered. For instance, in the eyes of the Doctrine of Necessity, Dr. Chris Ngige was ‘Anambra governor between May 29, 1999 and March 17, 2006’. This is because ‘nature abhors vacuum’.
“But, in the eyes of the ‘Case-Law’ and provisions of Section 287 (2) of the 1999 Constitution and relevant others, he was an interloper governor, having had his governorship judicially declared null and void.
“Going by same legal and conventional permissibility, Mr. Peter Obi’s eight years tenure, built on judicial interpretation of then Section 188 (2) of the 1999 Constitution, was legally and conventionally counted to have lasted from March 17, 2006 to March 17, 2014.
“This is notwithstanding the fact that his tenure saw Mr. Nnamdi Emmanuel Uba spending about 17 days in office (May 29, 2007 to around June 15, 2007) and Dame Virginia Etiaba, holding sway for three months (Nov 2006-Feb 2007) during Obi’s unlawful impeachment.”
The group therefore lamented that on account of the minimum of eight years term each taken by Anambra Central (plus additional three years) and Anambra North, “Anambra South was short-changed by four years and is about to be shortchanged for another eight years.
“In other words, while Anambra Central occupied the elective seat of the governor of Anambra State for 11 years, legally and illegally, by 17th March 2022, the Anambra North would have stayed in the same office for eight years, as against Anambra South, which took only four years.”
Intersociety disclosed that Sections 14 (4) and 42 of the 1999 Constitution are clear and unambiguous as they concern governorship shift or rotation in the state, stressing that while Section 42 prohibits all forms of social, economic, cultural and political discrimination, Section 14 (4) is clear on diversity.
The group therefore warned that moving the governorship to Anambra South must be devoid of ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ or whipping up sentiments on the grounds of Nwadi-Ani or Ndi-Nnem Ochie.
Intersociety declared; “That is to say that ‘if ‘A’ is presently holding forth for another Senatorial District as a Senator representing the district and is interested in vying for Anambra governorship, same ‘A’ must not trespass, but wait for the turn of A’s Senatorial District.
“Snatching the Anambra governorship by ‘clever’ and under the disguise of Nwadi-Ani or Ndi Nnem Ochie, thereby paving the way for same Senatorial District with 11 years of uninterrupted occupation of the same seat (May 29, 2003 – March 17, 2014) is not only unfair and greedy, but must also not be allowed.”