With less than a year to the 2023 general elections, the race for the Brick House by contending parties is generating much interest and getting intense.

As political parties, individuals seeking for party tickets as governorship candidates in Rivers State strategise towards holding their party primaries, the issue of which the three senatorial Zones shall their governorship candidate emerge has been a subject of State discourse.

Equitable zoning of the the governorship ticket in the 2023 general elections by the two major political parties – APC and PDP is currently one of the most contentious issues in Rivers State today. Although the concept of zoning electoral positions to the three senatorial zones or by political parties is not expressly captured in 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as Amended). But it is in tandem with the Federal Character Principle as enshrined in its Third Schedule, as a way of promoting equality, justice and fair play and above all giving every constituent of the senatorial zones a sense of belonging.
It’s an established fact that zoning or power shift is a veritable instrument for protecting the equality of citizens right and guides against the marginalization of smaller ethnic groups with great potentials. It also ensures societal harmony through the equitable devolution of powers and allocation of resources.

Power Shift or Rotational Governorship seat has been a major cause of feud in Rivers State since the advent of democratic government in 1919. Rotational governorship seat is a pragmatic means of stabilizing Rivers State politically and has been an ideological norm formally adopted by founding fathers and leaders of these great political parties. The problem of cleavage – sitting tight syndrome can only be addressed by this power sharing arrangement or formular though unlegislated upon, has been a prolonged usage widely accepted by the people of Rivers State and commands the conscious obeisance by the majority of Rivers State citizens.
Let’s recalled that Rivers East Senatorial Zone has produced governors such as Chief Rufus Ada George, Sir Celestine Omehia, Rt. (Hon) Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and Barr. Nyesom Wike the incumbent Governor with a time frame of twenty four years and six months, the Rivers West Senatorial Zone produced Sir Dr. Peter Odili for a two term of eight years whereas the Rivers South East Senatorial Zone with the following LGAs Khana, Gokana, Tai, Eleme, Oyigbo, Andoni and Opobo/Nkoro hasn’t produced any Governor right from the beginning of the creation of Rivers State.
Having observed the above antecedents, political analysts belief that it’s proper to zone the governorship seat to Rivers South East senatorial Zone, and especially the Riverine areas of Andoni and Opobo/Nkoro.

The late Marshall Harry was the first to propose that there should be arrangement and zoning formular in Rivers State since the return of democracy in 1999, His Excellency Rt. (Hon) Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi – the Minister of Transportation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is in the same School thought hence anything outside this reasoning is anti people and affront at undermining the character of togetherness and equity. Therefore, such move should be resisted in order not to destabilise the political serenity the State enjoyed over the years. Leadership isn’t just holding exalted positions of authority but dedication, selflessness and service to the people.

The APC in particular as a party, whose ideology is based on anti-corruption, integrity and good governance cannot afford to Zone it to any other part of Rivers State than Rivers South East especially to a person from Opobo/Nkoro and Andoni axis.

Importantly, zoning the governorship seat to the Rivers South East is within the tenets of democratic ideals in a pluralistic society like Rivers State. Egalitarianism cannot be fostered when major components of Rivers State citizens are nursing feelings of discontentment. Hence, the collective interest and sanity of the Rivers state people should be paramount over the political interest of few individuals, groups and political party. A political arrangement like zoning must accommodate the emotions and sentiments of those it intended to serve as to leave its usefulness even as not compliance to the implementation of zoning in Rivers State is tantamount to changing the rules in the middle of the game.
The clamour for the governorship ticket of Riverine extraction has continued to attract the attention of pressure groups in the build-up to the 2023 election. Groups like Kangiama Unity Forum – KUF, Rivers Choice Project – RCP National Rescue Movement – NRM which recently inaugurated their working committees are all in support of this ideology.
The Rivers South East candidate will guarantee fairness, justice and equity in the distribution of appointments and support efforts towards State cohesion. The need to look and spot out the candidate who is versatile in the game and has the capacity to change things for better becomes very expedient.

The Ogbakor Ikwerres; the Ogboko Eches; the Ijaws; The MOSOP and other notable ethno-ethnic blocks be mobilized to support fully this dream because one good turn deserves another they said. Other senatorial zones which has had a shot at the Brick House should have restrain. There should be conclave of leaders of political parties who will put the acts together to come up with either a consensus candidate or more credible person that would be accepted by Rivers people both indigene and non-indigene. Time also is of essence, the potential candidates from the Zone should consult widely to attract sympathy, love and total submission to show willingness to extend hand of fellowship to accomplish the task.

Infighting, acrimony and bitterness within the party and the Zone in particular be avoided or minimized among the contending gubernatorial candidates so there can be one front in the quest to present more acceptable, experienced and well tutored-politician with capacity to lead the people to victory.

Hon Felix Brown,
Writes From Rivers South-East, Nigeria.

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