By Jeff Ejiofor
In the words of Tawakkol Karma, peace does not mean just to stop wars, but also to stop oppression and injustice. Enugu State was created in 1991 to end the agelong North-South dichotomy in the old Anambra State and give the wawa people a sense of belonging. But unfortunately, 30 years down the line of the historic attainment of freedom and statehood, a section of the state precisely Isi-Uzo LGA has been subjected to a seemingly worst political denial in the history of democratic governance. Against the spirit of wawa solidarity which was invoked to achieve freedom in 1991, Isi-Uzo people have been made perpetually subservient in their father land for no just cause. It is unprejudically categorical to conclude that the current plight of Ndi Isi-Uzo in Enugu East Senatorial Zone where there is an existing plot to sustain their exclusion from political participation is akin to the above cautious words of Tawakkol Karma. Since the inception of the current political structure, the people of Isi-Uzo have been turned to political orphans who neither belong here nor there in Enugu State scheme of things and men of goodwill appear to be quiet in pretence that all is well.
As rightly put by Edmond Burke, all that is necessary for evil to
triumph is that good men do nothing. Isi-Uzo Local Government has been politically marginalized since it was included in Enugu East Zone during the last constituency delineation. The studied silence of the larger part of Enugu State to this political exclusion appears like a collective conspiracy against a people who have committed no offence other than being in a new Senatorial District.
To butress my argument on what looks like a collective conspiracy against Ndi Isi-Uzo, it is on record that since the begining of the 4th republic, Isi-Uzo is the only local government that has not been allowed to represent its zone in any government capacity especially as it affects offices zoned on senatorial basis. Each time opportunity comes for Ndi Isi-Uzo to express their political wish, sentiment of minority status anchored on their previous senatorial association (Nsukka) will be thrown up against them. A clear evidence was the denial of an illustrious son of Isi-Uzo,, Prof. Denchris Onah his well deserved ESUT VC position at the twilight of Sullivan Chime’s administration in 2015 simply because as an Isi-Uzo man, he was still seen as Onye Nsukka. That was the most despicable and devastating decision made by Sullivan Chime who many thought was a metropolitan figure. Professor Onah as an indigene of Enugu East Senatorial Zone where the office was zoned, contested and emerged the overall best, but out of sheer mischief, some people threw up this absurd Nsukka sentiment purposely to deny him his right. Was that not the worst discrimination anybody can get in his father’s land?
Meanwhile, Prof. Onah’s experience is just one out of a million denials Ndi Isi-Uzo have suffered on account of Nsukka sentiment against them. And I ask, does it mean Isi-Uzo will remain perpetually excluded from the scheme of things as long as Enugu State exists? Is it that no Isi-Uzo man can become Governor under the current arrangement? Or are we now saying that old senatorial identity should form the basis for political office distribution in Enugu State?
It simply amounts to playing the ostrich for Enugu people to deny Isi-Uzo their rights because they were in old Nsukka Zone while somebody from Nkanu West could comfortably hand over power to a man from Udi who was in the same Enugu Senatorial Zone with him in the old political order. It is only in Enugu State that we see such conjured wicked clannish imbalance of selective application of senatorial identity based on new or old order. For instance, in Imo State, people of Mbano were carved into Okigwe Zone in the new political structure but when it was the turn of the zone to produce governor, they were given the opportunity to do that not minding where they were coming from. They were not descriminated against by the larger Okigwe people for being in old Owerri Zone. Why then will Isi-Uzo case be different? Why should Ndi Isi-Uzo be singled out for political annihilation in Enugu State simply because they were under Nsukka Zone in the old political order?
Apparently,, 2023 is around the corner and the vultures are at it again scheming to exclude Isi-Uzo in the ensuing political calculation. These pundits of doom are insisting that because of Isi-Uzo’s past relationship with Nsukka, they should not be allowed to play any role as regards where the next Enugu Governor zoned to Enugu East will come from. Derogatory slangs like core and periphery Nkanu have now emerged on social media platforms. A position zoned to Enugu East has been reduced to core and periphery Nkanu affairs by some intellectual lilliputians who think they can browbeat Enugu people into unwholly submission. The most despicable aspect of it is that some prominent political actors of Enugu East extraction have joined this divisive bandwagon of core and periphery Nkanu narrative. A position zoned on senatorial basis is what some mischevious politicians are now trivializing and giving undue socio-cultural colouration.
More nauseating is the fact that this group of confusionists among which are pseudo intellectuals and political lilliputians are distracting the Executive Governor of Enugu State who has never told anybody about his 2023 succession plans with regard to individual preference.
Although one may be tempted to believe that this their purported restless attitude may have been prompted by this popular saying that guilty conscience fears accusation owing to the fact that Isi-Uzo Local Government Area is the most qualified to produce a Governor of Enugu East extraction come 2023 if justice and equity must prevail. It suffices to say that these emergency political pundits fanning embers of discord are mere prisoners of conscience.
It is a well known fact that as a people, Isi-Uzo are not saying that power must come to them at all cost in 2023, but only appeal for a level playing field where their right to any position zoned to Enugu East Senatorial Zone including governorship will be respected. Isi-Uzo by virture of the current political structure belong to Enugu East Zone and therefore are eminently qualified to exercise their franchise therein without any form of discrimination. I maintain that any attempt to think otherwise by denying Isi-Uzo this civic right and the opportunity to produce the next Governor of Enugu State come 2023 is repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience and it will not augur well for the system. Others are not more Nkanu than Isi-Uzo both in culture and historical evidence. Isi-Uzo should not be treated with such repulsive ignominy simply because of their past senatorial association which was merely a political creation to suit the geo political reality of that time. As a matter of fact, those who employ such absurd sentiment of using old political structure to judge Isi-Uzo today in order to perpetually enslave and shut them out of the scheme of things are only being wickedly mischevious and dishonestly self centred. They only recognize Isi-Uzo when it comes to sourcing of votes and making up numbers, but reject them whenever the need to appropriate opportunities arises. What a wicked modern day slavery in a 21st century liberal world!
In all honesty, there is no tenable justifiable reason to ostrasize a whole local government from political participation on grounds of perceived phantom and non existent cultural boundaries. In short, for the avoidance of doubt, nobody can convincingly prove with precise statistical analysis or records how the so called cultural fragmentation of Enugu State, a predominantly Igbo speaking enclave came about. They can never provide any tangible answer as per where and when the cultural balkernization of Enugu State took place and who supervised it. Wawa people are one and are bound by one culture and one destiny. Our zoning system in Enugu State abinitio is on the existing three senatorial structure. Geographical proximity rather than concocted cultural boundaries has always been the deciding factor for constituency delineation in Nigeria. Even the five senatorial districts of the old Anambra State were mere geographical expressions created for administrative convenience of that era and not cultural boundaries. For God’s sake, why will anybody supress the truth because of selfish political aggrandizement which is usually short lived?
The gospel truth is that there is no justifiable basis to exclude Isi-Uzo from the politics of Enugu State as some people are seeking to achieve. Enugu State are one and indivisible wawa people. Enugu East are one and indivible people connected by obvious cultural similiarities and no local government is superior to the other. Whether Nike, Isi-Uzo, Nkanu, Awkunanaw or Ngwo Uno, we are one and indivisible people with full right to any political office zoned to Enugu East District. No campaign of calumny against Isi-Uzo will take away that right.
In conclusion, let me remind the entire Enugu citizens especially the leaders of thought/political stakeholders about these famous words of Desmond Tutu, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have simply chosen the side of the oppressor”.
And for Ndi Isi-Uzo, I would like us to reflect on this James Baldwin’s views that not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.