Future Elections in Delta State: How will the Zoning Principle in Ukwuani Play Out?

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By Emmanuel Enebeli

The signs are already there that politics and politicking had started in Nigeria. The birds are already gathering, mapping out how they will play, plan and possible get the tickets of their parties.

One principle that had been playing out in the country is the spirit of zoning, an unwritten system that has now become part of our electoral system.

The major parties in the country, All Progressive Congress, (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), have enshrined the system of zoning at election times.

This is being practiced at all level, wards, local government politics, states and at the federal level.

In Delta state, since 1999, the zoning principle had been practically played out in the PDP, as the three senatorial districts of Central, South and North has allowed the equity principle of ensuring that the governorship position is held for at least two tenures. Presently, Delta North is on Seat, with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa at the helm of affair in the state.

However, the very sharp zoning principle at the state and federal level is not well defined at the local government level.

But this may be changing as one of the Local Governments in Delta State, Ukwuani, with Headquarter in Obiaruku may be moving towards the physical political zoning principle, if the agreements reached by leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) to allow for power shift of the two major electoral positions in the area is allowed to hold.

From recent history, the administrative leadership of the area, especially in the chairmanship position had been with the local zonal area, called “Akashiede”, while the office of the representative of the Ukwuani Constituency had resided in the hands of the “Egboma’s”, who had occupied the office at the State House of Assembly, since 1999.

In a meeting according to information, the leadership of the party agreed in one of their meetings after the 2015 election decided to make a change, by ensuring that the elective position to the Delta State House of Assembly is however shifted to the Akashiede’s, while the office of the Chairman of the Council, will be zoned to the Egboma area.

While the political coast is not very clear, as regarding the closest election, the Local Government Election, as the state government is yet to set up a time table for that, but rather sent a bill for amendment of the State Electoral body, there is already a sign by the people of Ukwuani Peoples Democratic Party to implement the zoning principle.

In a recent telephone chat with Ndokwa Reporters, the present Commissioner of Water Resources in Delta State, Chief Fidelis Okenmor Tilije, confirmed the meeting and agreement, and said the agreement stands.

According to him, the meeting agreed that the principle of leadership structure in the LGA will have to shift, as he confided to Ndokwa Reporters that to the best of his Knowledge, the decision of the meeting had not changed.

“To the best of my Knowledge, there was a meeting where we agreed on shift of leadership structure between the two blocks in Ukwuani, by the PDP leaders in Ukwuani, and that had not changed.”

Chief Tlllije went further to state that if the reached agreement is to be changed, the leaders will have to meet again to take decision based on any new reason.

However, the commissioner stated that allowing the zones to produce candidates for any of the elective positions does not give the zone any right to bring any candidate of their choice, as the choice of the zone must meet with the choice of the party, stating that if the zone insist on the presented candidate, the leadership will have to present another candidate at the primary from the other zone, to contest with the choice of the selected person from the zoned area.

“This is to ensure that PDP, produce a candidate that will win election, as such candidate will also determine the faith of the party in the area, when it comes to state, and other elections.”

With this, the PDP which is both the ruling party and opposition party in the area, had decided to ensure that come 2019, the office of the constituency representative of Ukwuani at the Delta state House of Assembly will move to Akashiede, while the office of the Chairman of the Ukwuani Council Area, will move to Egboma.

Presently, on ground in the area, the opposition is not active, as time and time had shown that the opposition in the area is always from the same party in government, the Peoples Democratic Party.

With this arrangement on ground, the proponents is banking on the vote from the Akashide area, which has the highest voting strength, as the area will largely vote for one of their own to occupy the LGA position at the state legislative chamber.

But the question will arise, what is the thinking of the average Ukwuani electorate. Will they go the way of the party. Or will they act based on their conscience?

But for now, the people of the area should expect surprises at the candidates that may come out. Ndokwa Reporters has it in good authourity, that the chosen one has not yet announced his or her intention to contest.

 

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