RECENTLY, the murky water of Abia politics wasstirred by rumours that Governor Theodore Orji had endorsed one of his officials, Mr. Okezie Ikpeazu, as the state’s next governor. But the government swiftly denied the allegation before it got out of hand.
The denial came given the horde of aspirants on the prowl. There are atleast 20 people from Ukwa/Ngwa ethnic bloc of Abia State interested in ruling the state in 2015. The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) zoned the position to Abia South.
Responding to the rumour that Orji had selected someone to replace him, one of the political heavyweights in the state, Chief Ukpai Agwu, who was the immediate past Transport commissioner and close confidant of Orji, said the governor would not select any candidate for Abia South.
“The governor would not select anybody for the people of Abia South as their candidate. Whomever they select must be the one Abians would approve. It is left for Abia South to present a candidate they feel is best for the state.
The governor will not influence it. I myself do not know who will be the governor. It is left for Abia South people to produce who they want. Remember, it is not zoned to Ukwa/Ngwa. It is zoned to Abia South, which is made up of both Ukwa and Ngwa people,” he said.
Effects of zoning
One of the effects of the zoning, Agwu went on, is that, “the transfer of power to Abia South will not only ease the tension and feeling of marginalisation in the state, it will also ensure equity in all spheres of Abia polity.”
Once this is enthroned in the state, Agwu said, it would be easy for every region in Abia to know which part will produce the next governor. “Immediately Abia South completes its tenure”, Agwu said, “it would be the turn for Abia North as everybody would know which zone will be the next.”
Those after the Abia top job
Those reportedly gunning for the top job so far are Rt. Hon. Uzor Azubuike, Isiala Ngwa South; Chris Nkwonta Akwete, Ndoki Ukwa East; Barrister Emeka Wogu, Umuogle Aba South; Alwell Asiforo Okere, Ohuru Ndoki Ukwa East; Barrister A. C. B Agbazuere, Isiala Ngwa South; Sir Mac Wabara Ohambele, Ukwa East; Mr. Okey Emuchay, Ukwa East; Gabriel Onyendilefu, Isiala Ngwa South; Chief Reagan Ufomba, Isiala Ngwa North; Senator Nkechi Justina Nwaogu, Isiala Ngwa South; Senator Enyi Abaribe, Obingwa; Rt. Hon. Eric Acho Nwakanma, Obingwa; Comrade Chris Akoma, Obingwa; Barrister F.N Nwosu, Obingwa; Chief Nyerere Anyim, Obingwa; Prince Paul Ikonne, Aba North; Chief Okezie I Orji, Obingwa; Uche Nwankpa, Obingwa; Okezie Ikpeazu, Obingwa and Udo Ahaiwe, Obingwa.
Zoning formula raises stakes
The ruling PDP’s zoning of the governorship to Abia South is upturning political settings in the state’s local governments and senatorial districts. For example, in Abia North which has been allotted the deputy governorship, there is already an agitation over which LGA will produce the next deputy governor. Currently there are many aspirants and communities saying it is their turn to produce one office or the other.
Agwu said that in Abia North, the equity policy is being worked out between the Ohafia, Nkporo, Abiriba on one hand, and Arochukwu, as well as Bende, Isikwuato, Isiochi among others on the other. The positions for zoning range from councillorship, members of the House of Assembly, the federal constituencies, senatorial seat and state deputy governor. This may affect the chances serving federal lawmakers like Senator Uche Chukwumerije and Arua Arunsi from returning, if different local councils were to produce occupiers of the offices. While Arunsi is on his first lap in the House of Representatives, Chukwumerije has done multiple terms.
Ohafia, Aro bicker over deputy gov slot
Elders of Ohafia LGAs are not left out in the political scheming in the state. In a chat with the Vanguard recently, they said it is fair that their people produce the deputy governor.
But Aro Chukwu LGA says it is its turn. One of its sons, Chief Kalu Kalu Diogu, a former president of World Igbo Congress (WIC) from Ihechiowa town of the LGA, is reportedly running with Abaribe as his deputy. Commenting on the centrality of Ohafia in Abia politics, Agwu, a two-time chairman of Ohafia LGA, said his council has always given over 70 percent votes to the winning party in the state.
Agwu, a well known grassroots politician in the state, noted that the governor would fulfill his promises to Ohafia, including the Isiugwu-Ndi Oji Abam road which had been awarded over three years ago but with nothing to show for it.
We’ve not been compensated—Ohafia elders
The Ohafia elders also decried the non-appointment of their people into federal government agencies and parastatals, saying the people gave a big support to the government during the 2011 elections.
The leaders, who spoke to Vanguard included former Abia State PDP Deputy Chairman, and former Chairman, Ohafia LGA, Chief K.K. Owen; immediate past Abia commissioner for Transport, Mr. Kingsley Imaga, and Rev William Onyema Agbai, Abia state Commissioner for Local Government Service Commission.
Rev Agbai explained that the Federal Government did not forget Ohafia people rather, their slots had always been hijacked by one known politician in their area with his Abuja connections.
The people, he said, should be more proactive in asking for what belongs to them. They should have a presence in Abuja to reach out to powers that be in the capital territory so that no one will short change them. On his part, Imaga, blamed the professional elites in the area for the non presence of the people at the federal level, claiming that the political elite had done their duty. Owen in his remarks said the Ohafia community would want the deputy governor to come from their council as a way to compensate them for their bloc votes.