Son of one of the most prominent founding fathers of Enugu State, Dr Josef Umunnakwe Onoh has stated that zoning of governorship positions in the state started from the inception of the state, in 1991 when the state was created.
A squabble broke out in Awgu, last week, when one of the stakeholders of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Rev Hyde Onuaguluchi, in an Enugu West senatorial political rally mounted the podium to say that there was no zoning of governorship in the state.
Onuaguluchi’s statement generated tension in the arena and in the state since his statement ran counter to an already established mindset that the 2023 governorship will be zoned to Enugu East senatorial district, having rotated to the other two districts from 2007 to now.
However, in a reaction to the debate that followed Onuaguluchi’s gaffe, Onoh Jnr countered Rev. Onagulachi and described him as a rebel who had never agreed with the popular decision of stakeholders in the state.
Onoh said: “I can authoritatively confirm that there is rotation in Enugu state because I was in the company of my father the day he made the statement at Odenigwe’s residence, after that, they proceeded to the sports club where Enechi Onyia came around 6 pm to drop the minutes of their meeting.
“Hyde (Onuagulchi) rebelled against that decision and walked away and my father clearly told him openly that he will never be Governor of Enugu state. My brother Gabriel was then the Mayor of the coal city and the last Mayor to rule over what is now Enugu East, Enugu South and Enugu North.
“The reason for my father’s decision in the rotation principle and why he asked Enugu North senatorial zone to go first was because of the call he got from Commodore Ibute Ukiwe who narrated the decision of the supreme military council informing him that he wasn’t going to get the two states he wanted, Wawa state (changed to Enugu) and Adada state.
Ukaiwe told my father that they opted for Enugu state and Adada was dropped which pained my father a lot. So in order to ensure peace and harmony, the zoning arrangement was born and it was agreed by these respectable and distinguished gentlemen of blessed memory hence Enugu North senatorial District had the grand honour of producing the first executive governor of Enugu state.
“The resolve was so strong that on the night of the day late Dr Joe Nwodo was disqualified, my father insisted on a replacement rather than Hyde Onuaguluchi having his way. Joe Nwodo was replaced with Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo his younger brother we were at Mr Adams House at Ogui road to pick him up by 10 pm at night to come and take a photograph of Okwesilieze so he can rush and replace his form. The rest they say is history.
“Eventually in 1998, at about 7 pm, a golden brown Lexus s400 pulled up at our family house in Ngwo, I was having dinner with my father, I was drawn by the sleek design of the vehicle and behold three men walked out and I recall my father smile and saying “James o’gunu bu ina cho bem? (What brings you to my house)? He smiled; I stood up and greeted Uncle Jim Nwobodo, then next was H.E, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo and a dark man whom I didn’t know as at then only later during the conversation he was introduced as Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani.
“Jim came to solicit for my father’s support to ensure Chimaroke wins the election and be elected as Governor of Enugu State. One statement he made that triggered my memory was when he said to my father, ‘CC, you brought Okwesilieze Nwodo in 1991 I supported you and our agreement still holds so it’s the turn of our zone to produce Governor and my father asked him what zone, he now said Nkanu. At this point my father fumed and said Nkanu is just a local government and not a zone that it’s like Ogui, Ngwo, Nike-Odenigbo, Amechi-uwenu and Amechi-uwani, referring to the entire Enugu East senatorial zone.
“Then Jim corrected himself and said it’s the turn of Enugu East, at which my father now asked Chimaroke some questions I won’t go into and Okwesilieze assured him everything was going to be okay and he specifically said to Chimaroke ‘I hope you know after you it will Enugu west, I hope you will do the right thing when that time comes, he smiled and said yes.
“He now asked me if I will leave APP and join PDP because I was contesting for the position of a councillor at New Haven ward. That was how I joined PDP and despite all odds, Chimaroke still honoured the same agreement, so did Sullivan Chime and so will Gburugburu (Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi). And when the time comes again tomorrow’s Ex-Governor will hopefully do the same and take his place in the sun.”