Addressing the age-long injustice in the political configuration of Abia State is the only way to go in next year’s governorship election, writes Reuben Nwachukwu
The political space in the country is now in active mode and all discourses – be it security challenges or the economy – are interpreted by pundits using political scales. This is not unusual because in every clime – whether in Kenya or in Nigeria – any transition year is crucial to the existence of the country as a whole or the part thereof.
It is often a year garbed in intrigues, political calculations, stock-taking, new appraisals, paradigm shifts, emergence of new political blocs and relationships but most importantly, it is also a year where cursory look is taken to ascertain whether promises made during the last pre-election year or during the tenure by politicians and political parties were kept to the letter or otherwise. It is a year, when active populace demands its right while gullible followers wake up from their political stupor, clear the smokescreen and smell the coffee. That year again, is 2014. It is today.
The tension being experienced throughout the country today is a pointer to this. Every region is angling for political fortunes in the entity called Nigeria. The sole aim is the demand for equity and equal political rights. From the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East to the MEND threats in South-South, MASSOP in South East, OPC in South-west and the OMBATSE in North Central, the main reason behind all these is to ensure that perceived justice is not just seen to be done, but be done to the satisfaction of all concerned.
This, however, depends on the definition of justice the party is basing its actions on. While some people or groups resort to violence to demand for these rights, others may resort to wise counsel, appeal to conscience and peaceful advocacy. This is the part of honour that the component units that make up Abia, our God’s own state, have taken thus far especially the Ukwa Ngwa.
Since the creation of the state in 1991, our state has been administered by great leaders. Looking at our dear state today, one easily forgets in our judgment that Abia State is just 23 years old. Our present governor, Dr. T.A Orji, came to the helm of affairs in our state when Abia was a teenager.
Teenage comes with its numerous challenges. The state Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu changed its diapers in 1991, has become fierce today in her demands for expression. The teenage rebel signs were ominous and it was at that stage that God, in His infinite wisdom, bestowed on us the services of Orji, who in my opinion has done exceedingly well in nurturing the state from teenage to manhood and bringing security which is the most important for any state.
He has also given Umuahia and Aba a face-lift that eluded them during past governments but most importantly, he has demonstrated that he is a true leader, who believes in equity and fair play.
However, all these leaders have come from old Bende Division. In what looks like a convoluted political arrangement, the Ukwa-Ngwa has not held the reins of governance in the state from inception. From Dr. Onu, to the present Dr. Orji, Old Bende has had more than its fair share of leadership in the state and the baton should change now for justice and fair play.
It is therefore gratifying to feel the body language of Dr. Orji, who and rightly too, feels that equity must prevail in 2015 by dropping the hint of zoning the governorship ticket to the Ukwa Ngwa, which has a massive vote arsenal vaulted in the nine local governments that make it up.
Orji has shown with this that he is a man, who abhors injustice and is therefore determined to right the wrong fostered on Ukwa Ngwa. No matter what anyone thinks of him, men with the mind-set of insisting that justice be done when they are even at the advantageous side of the fence are uncommon in the days we live in now and should be appreciated and honoured. We salute his courage, boldness, fair mindedness and the fact that he has taken a firm stand on this issue, no matter whose ox is gored.
All agree that the political scale in Abia at state level has been lopsided with Ukwa Ngwa spraining patiently all the while at the skew-whiff end. Ukwa Ngwa has been highly short-changed and the facts and figures are glaring. All, except political gladiators in the state, their followers, sponsors and their sympathisers, affirm that Ukwa Ngwa need to be allowed to breath politically, take its rightful place and play a well-deserved leading role in the state.
‘Ukwa/Ngwa is marginalised’ has always been the cry song but it seems those songs have lost their rhythm and do not appeal to the ears of those it is meant to appeal to or they are just being harped on ears that have deliberately gone deaf on them. Whichever way, something just doesn’t seem right until now that Governor Orji has decided to blaze the trail by taking the bull by the horns.
Surprisingly, however, in Ukwa-Ngwa region also, this imbalance exists. Is Abia state hexed with imbalance? For example, although the component units that make up the compound nomenclature Ukwa-Ngwa have their individual strengths and advantages and can collectively work towards emancipation from perceived marginalisation, there are disappointedly, elements within the bloc whose preoccupation is re-enacting the imbalance being condemned at state level for their selfish reasons.
From the creation of the state when Mr. Gershon Amuta was almost bracing the tape as the governor, these elements moved in and sold out on one of their own. While the region cries out against marginalisation in the state, some units and individuals in Ukwa Ngwa are also marginalising others by deploying the strategy of rancour. This is the reason why leadership has eluded Ukwa Ngwa and it is so sad.
For example, while Ukwa is made up of two local governments, Ngwa has seven. Meanwhile, most top rated political appointments and positions both at state and federal levels have been shared between Ukwa and what I will for the purposes of this write up call her Ngwa neighbours.
In representative capacity, Ukwa has among other very prominent personages, produced the Senate President in the person of Senator Adolphus Wabara. This is the highest political achievement at the federal level ticked under the check box of Abia State. Obingwa, Ukwa’s neighbour has produced Deputy Governors of the state like Mr. Enyinaya Abaribe now a Senator also, Mr. Acho Nwakanma, and Mr. Chris Akoma.
From Osisioma, the late Chima Nwafor, (the first Deputy governor of the state who served under Onu and Orji Uzor Kalu) emerged, and Ugwunagbo produced Chief Emeka Ananaba, the current Deputy Governor while Aba South has Chief Emeka Wogu, who is currently the Minister of Labour and who also served as a Commissioner in the Federal Revenue Mobilisation, a position from which he made a seamless switch to become the Minister of Labour.
A roll call of those rumoured to be angling for the coveted position of the governor of the state in 2015, shows the same lopsided pattern where actors mentioned above, from areas of the state also mentioned are the ones scheming and peering from their political closets again.
Whether it is Senator Abaribe, one time deputy Governor of the state; Chief Wogu, Chief Ananaba, the current Deputy Governor or Lt.Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, the former Chief of Army Staff, the political turbine seems to be rotating in the same awkward direction that has produced little synergy in the governance of the state all these years.
These are great men in their own rights no doubt but while acknowledging the fact that everyone has the right to aspire to whatever position they desire, Abia State however deserves a technocrat this time from Ukwa Ngwa and not one of the run-of-the-mill politicians to be her next governor.
From these second fiddle achievements in terms of political positions, it seems however that there is a silent conspiracy against Umunne Ato Ngwa which despite their contributions and strategic position in the state, has been left out of contention. This is the crux of the matter. A situation whereby a section of a group feels neglected and marginalised even as they are up in labour for the growth of our dear state with others, harbours ill-feelings, which could become counter-productive in the nearest future.
Therefore, should and when Governor Orji and political wise men from Abia decide, and rightly too, that the political jinx of governors coming from one region of the state be broken, let Umunne Ato Ngwa be the jinx breaker…Ma opara apara beghi oke, osota opara okwesiri ipara?
Leaders and achievers are not in short supply from Umunne Ato Ngwa and anybody can attest to that unless in Abia State. Some regions or localities are also carrying the placard of the infamous and obnoxious Born to Rule self-deception, which has set our dear country hundreds of years back and which is still threatening the foundation of the country.
Attention then should be focused on that part of Ukwa Ngwa in the gubernatorial consideration of Abia in 2015. This is a point that should occupy the minds of king makers in 2015 and which all Ukwa Ngwa should endorse.
Having stated this, while still basking in the euphoria of Orji’s statesmanly decision on Ukwa Ngwa for 2015, it will also be pertinent to caution sell-outs and political jobbers from Ukwa Ngwa to desist from their usual trade of throwing spanner in the wheels of political progress in Ukwa Ngwa. Ukwa Ngwa is one indivisible bloc and should rise in unison; eschew rancour in order to bring governance home.
While congratulating and appreciating the governor, however, we must humbly ask also that while deciding on whom to pass the baton to in Ukwa Ngwa, let Orji’s legacy be that he chose a resourceful technocrat, who is vast in the process and procedures of governance. Let the person be a cool-headed man with unquestionable loyalty to the people. Let the future governor of Abia from Ukwa Ngwa be one that will be assessable to the governed.
He should not be loud-mouthed or filled with boastfulness and threats. Let us copy from Anambra succession model because our state cannot afford a clueless but highly political leader, who will spend most time building firewalls around himself while Abians are completely shut out grumbling in pain. Let the person be a man of accountability and integrity who will be the governor of all Abians.
Abia has to shift to cruising gear with that leader and not one who would put the state in auto pilot or auto reverse. Fortunately, we in Diaspora as well as those at home, have seen what some of those pretending to be the next governors did or are doing with political positions they occupy now and how completely detached they are from the people. A leader must be in tune with the governed and this must be put into consideration while choosing for 2015.
It will not bleed anyone to death if and when a star twinkles in the skyline of our state from Ukwa Ngwa especially, Umunne Ato Ngwa. There is a wealth of knowledge and leadership benefits to be drawn from the hodgepodge of highly intellectual, enterprising and resourceful men and women from there. It is the needful, it is the right thing to do, and it should be done in 2015. As Martin Luther king Jr said, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
-Nwachukwu wrote from Nairobi, Kenya