Delta and Imo State voters deserve commendation

PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

Sir: “We are a civilised people and we teach the rest of the world how to live.”- Margaret Thatcher. I don’t like to kibitz with strangers. But, I have broken the rule many times particularly when I meet people, who love to tell white lies and distort facts to deceive people like blooming troopers. I was at a public forum immediately after the 2015 gubernatorial elections in Imo State.  Moments before the start of the programme, some guests nearby, indigenes of the state and supporters of the incumbent, I guess, wondered aloud why the other contestant Emeka Ihedioha, the flag-bearer of the PDP at the time (whose home-zone in the state is in Mbaise), imagined that someone from his stock/locale could ever rule Imo State? And they went on to chortle.

That got me and without invitation I blurted out, “What is wrong with having an Mbaise man rule Imo State? You discriminate amongst yourselves barefacedly.” I expected outbursts of defensive rationalisations and worse yet, “what’s your business, but to my surprise got none. Like many people in Nigeria, that encounter wouldn’t change them, I am sure. Bigots always remain bigots. Trying to help bigots reform and love all persons without borders is akin to shutting the stable door after the horse had bolted. They always act like the wolf and lamb on Aesop’s fable to tear people apart. No use. I am happy not for Emeka Ihedioha, I don’t believe in Nigerian politicians anyway but I am happy for the Imo State people for believing and working with the British proverb of horses for courses and allowed an Mbaise man to be their governor. I hope this can happen in many other states in Nigeria. Can we count on the new helms man to not allow the deep-seated divide synonymous with some people to ruin his reign?  Only time will tell.

The Imo people went with their guts instincts with a tenacious sense of conviction and were almost 100 per cent ideological about whom their preferred candidate was. What lessons can people in Nigeria learn from the demarche in Imo? I look to Delta State and to former governor James Ibori who sued for peace publicly asking Deltans to give Anioma people the chance to rule and for zoning principle to continue and I wonder why this isn’t the case with Rivers State. But for the zoning arrangement in Delta the people of Anioma who are clearly in the minority cannot produce a governor. Zoning has seen Ifeanyi Okowa returned as governor for the second time and thanks to the Urhobo ethnic who though are clearly in the majority in Delta State but refused to be power drunk and settled for peace. Okowa should pay that gratitude by not being cocky in office. He couldn’t have being governor with the efforts of the stakeholders in Delta State and the good people of the state. Imo and Delta people deserve commendation and other states should take a cue from them. I am sure you will accuse me for not having a democratic view that is in tune with avant-gardism. I have travelled to every corner and bend in this country to know that zoning promotes stability of polity.

Simon Abah wrote from Abuja.

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