Abia 2015: My position

By John Okiyi Kalu on 22/09/2014

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Many have called me on phone, approached me in box, BBM and physically to ask my view on who takes over from Ochendo Global as Abia's next governor. I have answered all of them same way: I don't know or care about who as long as equity and justice are upheld. Maka oganiru Abia.

Those who have followed me for upwards of 4 years will confirm that it is not a new position that I want someone from Ngwa axis of Abia state as 2015 elected governor. By that I state expressly that the person for me should be a good candidate from old Aba division of East central state. For those who don't know the history of Abia, the state was essentially created from old Aba, Bende and Afikpo divisions. Afikpo later joined Ebonyi State after producing the first elected governor of Abia state, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu. After him came Dr Orji Uzor Kalu from old Bende division (specifically Igbere) and then Ochedo TA Orji from same old Bende division (specifically Umuahia). Both OUK and Ochendo would have governed for combined 16 years by May 29th 2015.

Let me make this point upfront. In all previous elections people from old Bende and Ngwa divisions ran for governorship of the state. It was not delibrately zoned to any axis. But there were events arising from OUK's issues with his then deputy, Enyinnaya Abaribe, that grossly divided the state along "Ukwa-Ngwa" and "old Bende" lines with non indigenes being caught in the middle. The result of the "otu onu" (one tenure) campaigns of those days was that the state was thrown into avoidable crisis that had a nexus with the obnoxious kidnapping saga of those days that paralyzed Aba completely and led to many good business men and companies fleeing Aba to safer climes. (Most of them are yet to fully return). To pacify the situation, the incumbent spent billions of Abia funds in securing Aba with the attendant high cost of governance in Abia directly and indirectly linked to the events of 2003-2010. You probably still remember the unprecendented kidnapping of about 20 school children and the capture and killing of a certain kingpin called Osisikankwu. Permit me not to dwell on apportioning blames.

But after a profound review of the situation then I personally determined that to move the state forward we need to elect a good governor of Ngwa origin. That will have the twin effect of solving the issues of equity and fairness as well as make for concerted infrastructure investment in Aba with an anticipated emergence of a new Aba. It was same thoughts on equity and fairness that informed my support for emergence of Anambra governor from Anambra North. Not that I knew Obiano or joined APGA. In Enugu 2015, I am with Nsukka people and you can guess who I will back in Imo and Ebonyi.

As an Igbo man, I fully understand the fraud called "credible candidate" as a tool to deny a people the right to produce the President. When it suits those of "credible" school they will work for emergence of a candidate from Western Nigeria or Northern Nigeria without considering "merit and "credibility" but once you mention "Nigerian president of Igbo origin" you will be insulted with talk of "credible" candidate and "merit". I have asked this question before: is there a local government in Nigeria that does not have a "credible" potential president? Talk less a governor. All you need is to search for a "best fit" from a narrowed "search field" and isolate the best. It is insulting to even contemplate that there is a tribe or people who cannot produce a good leader. Surely not Ngwaland that gave us Jaja Wachukwu and many other world class leaders.

For the avoidance of doubt, I can count off my fingers over 50 good candidates from all LGAs in Abia who can perform well as governors. Specifically, there is no LGA in old Aba division that does not have experienced, well educated and non-divisive governorship materials with the capacity to govern well.

My abiding position is not to be misconstrued as a dismissal of the challenge of people like Sampson Ogah, Azubuike Ihejirika and many others of old Bende ancestry. I don't know Mr Ogah personally but I have family members, friends and associates who like him. They say he is humble and God fearing. Just those 2 qualities are enough to sell his candidature to me even without the additional information that he is young, generous and a people's man. They told me he was in banking before stumbling on oil subsidy wealth. Of course he lacks experience in public service and politics. That can be both advantageous and disadvantageous. I won't dwell on that though I would have preferred him staying on in business to grow and compete with the likes of Dr Mike Adenuga and Alhaji Aliko Dangote. I sincerely see both men as bigger than any governor in Nigeria. They are affecting lives, creating jobs and wealth in a way no state governor is capable of. We need to have their Igbo equivalent since young Ifeanyi Ubah allowed himself to be derailed by the allure of political power. Hopefully he will bounce back after his electoral losses in Anambra.

Let the Ogah challenge remain because as history have shown, it is the tradition to allow all sides run in Abia. But my preference is for stake holders in PDP to go for an Ngwa man from Old Aba division. It doesn't matter if the candidate is from Isiala Ngwa, Obingwa or Ukwa LGA. We have the likes of Alex Otti, Okezie Ikpeazu, Enyinnaya Abaribe, Nkechi Nwogu, Emeka Wogu, Chukwu Wachukwu, Uzor Azunuike, Nkwonta, Reagan Ufomba and many more to choose from. Surely those men and woman can match any candidate from any part of Nigeria in terms of education, experience and passion. Others from old Bende can challenge them using APGA, Labour party, APC (with codeine) UPP etc. It will make for good governorship contest to have Alex Otti, Ogah, Ikpeazu, Ufomba, Wogu and Abaribe facing off on different party platforms. A self assured good candidate must not chicken out because he/she didn't get PDP ticket. Mimiko won with labour party and Oshiomole was an ACN candidate. Whoever Abians finally select should be good enough. But if you ask for my sincere view, I will rather that Sampson Ogah steps back and prepare for 2019 governorship election if he is bent on trans muting from business to politics. He can then contest against an incumbent Ngwa candidate without having the issue of equity hanging on his neck like an albatross. But since one of my mentors reminded me that it is called "ndorodoro ochichi" (struggle for power) let's watch the struggle unfold. Be that as it may only party stake holders have a real say on who gets which party's ticket.

For me, I will certainly back the best candiate from old Ngwa division as PDP candidate. After the October primaries, I will queue behind the presently undetermined person. But if my party choose a non Ngwa candidate, I will siddon look and accept whatever comes to us as Abians. I cannot be advocating for an Ngwa division candidate for so long and then make a U-turn because of political pressure. The reasons that informed my earlier position remain valid today.

I might be right or wrong but this is my personal position on Abia 2015. Feel free to take your position for or against my position. All na politics. But note that I have NEVER backed a losing candidate in a proper election.

Ya gazie.

 

Posted on September, 22 2014

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