The political scene in Abia State is agog with many voices speaking on the matter of which area should produce the next governor. Persons from Abia North have been the most vocal out of a sense of entitlement. Others think otherwise.
Both sides have approached the matter with a sense of entitlement and righteousness. However, it is political and requires negotiation and tact. The language of the Abia North proponents is stentorian, dictatorial, and entitled.
As I began to write on Saturday 29 January 2022, The Sun reported one of the canvassers, a man described as “the President of Mben Political Assembly, Chief Eme Uche Onuh.” The Sun reported Onuh as stating that “Abia North Senatorial Zone must produce the next governor of Abia State”.
Please note the language of MUST.
Chief Onuh also threatens to upturn the peace of the state. See:
_“Chief Onuh called on serving Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe from Abia South, who has indicated an interest in the governorship race, to halt such ambition for peace to always hold sway in the state.”
On another front, “Concerned Stakeholders of Ikwuano/Umuahia Federal Constituency” rose on Wednesday 26 January 2022 from a stakeholders consultative meeting in Umuahia. They affirmed that politicians from the Constituency would contest the 2023 governorship election as the race is open to all Abians since the governorship seat has rotated equally amongst the three senatorial blocks of Abia state, ‘Oke-Ezuola-Abia.’
“The Stakeholders maintained that they believe in the constitutional sacrosanctity of the three senatorial districts of Abia – Abia South, Abia Central and Abia North Senatorial districts; thus their stand on the issue.
“We wish to use this medium to express that the people of Ikwuano/Umuahia in Abia Central are interested in the number one seat of Abia state”, the stakeholders stated in a Communique read on their behalf by Hon. Ikechukwu Martin Apugo.
“The Communique continues thus: ‘We urge anyone from Ikwuano/Umuahia who has an interest in running for the governorship position to make his intention known and are sure to receive our support.
“We also urge all political parties to give a level playing ground to all candidates from all parties of Abia State who have interest in contesting the gubernatorial election as this ideology is encouraged democratically”, the communique submitted.
The position of the Ikwuano/Umuahia politicians debunks the assertions of those from Abia North to a right to the governorship in 2023 allegedly based on the Abia Charter of Equity. Ikwuano/Umuahia is in Abia Central. The loud protestations of one side of Abia North are forcing many others to look at that document, the antecedents as well as the history of political contests in Abia State.
One of those claims came in the detailed report in The Guardian of 13 January 2022 that discussed the matter of the options for the next governor of Abia State on the planks of rotation and the Abia Charter of Equity. It made the case for Abia North rather than presenting the issues around the rotation of the governorship seat in Abia State dispassionately.
Those from the Aba Division make a case for the continuation of the rule by an Ngwa son based on the history of the state and the origins of its governors. They are similarly shouting from the rooftops from a sense of hurt and righteous indignation.
Here are some other issues for consideration by all parties.
The three senatorial zones have now had a chance to rule the state. Having done so, other issues arise. These are the matters of the order of the rotation or who is next, and that of equity.
Abia state neatly divides into Bende and Aba Division. They held sway as our fathers struggled for state creation. Persons from Bende Division have held the office of governor for 16 years. They are Orji Uzor Kalu and Theodore Orji. Okezie Victor Ikpeazu from Aba Division will complete eight years in 2023.
Note that Okezie Victor Ikpeazu became governor not necessarily because of the Abia Charter of Equity. At least two Bende sons gave him a hot chase. Indeed, but for the courts, a Bende son would have assumed the office of governor despite the Abia Charter of Equity. He contested and claimed victory until the courts rubbished his claims.
Bende sons did not respect the Abia Charter of Equity. It is strange to hear them now making a song and dance of the arrangement. I join those who view their volubility as masquerading greed and insatiability.
Abia Central zone comprises LGs that fit into Aba Division and Bende Division. My Senator is former Governor, Theodore Orji who is from the old Bende Division while my Isiala Ngwa North is of the old Aba Division. With Theodore Orji’s eight years, Bende Division held the Office of Governor for a cumulative 16 years.
Aba Division contends that for equity persons from therein should similarly hold office for 16 years. I quote our spokesmen such as the Okwubunka of Asa Sir Don Ubani. It means that after Ikpeazu someone from Aba Division should be the next to complete the remaining eight years for Aba Division.
The response to Sir Don Ubani has been to hush him with insults and intimidation. It will turn out counterproductive.
Abia North positions as if it is their right to present the next governor. They come at it with bluster and threats. I have news for them.
The governorship is not a given for any zone. It is a matter of the art of the possible, involving negotiation and persuasion. No section can claim it by threatening others. There is no first son in the matter. And no one has appointed any zone as Abia First Son.
Now that everyone has had a shot, it should start afresh but not in any order of precedence. It was fortuitous that Abia North went first in 1999. Nothing says they should go first now. Before then, however, the matter of equity.
The equity argument of the Aba Division is persuasive. Fair is fair. If one side has done 16 years, it is unseemly for them to want another eight years while the other side remains on eight years.
I suspect that the Abia North gladiators imagine that they can bully the rest of the state to submit and allow them an undeserved turn. Or force the alternative of throwing the race open to merit-based selection or the survival of the fittest. They have always done so, despite the Charter.
The Ukwa La Ngwa branch of the old Aba Division should hold on to the diadem to complete 16 years. That is equitable. However, they would need to make the case through persuasion while sticking to the facts.
I call on persons from Bende Division to dig into their sense of fairness, balance and equity and allow those from Aba Division to complete the 16 years turn.