The humility of Ikuku and his Abia House of Assembly quest

By John Okiyi Kalu on 31/10/2014

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When the news filtered in last week that the son of Abia State Governor, Engineer Chinedum Orji, has joined the political race and that he is aspiring to represent Umuahia central at the State House of Assembly, many of us found it difficult to believe the story. Reasons being that we had thought he would go for a higher office once he decided to join the process. We waited for confirmation from PDP Secretariat, Abia State, that he had picked nomination form before commenting on the development. In between time, rumors emerged from usual sources that he is aspiring to be the Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly. So after due investigations, I confirmed that Engineer Chinedum Orji, indeed, is running for Abia House of Assembly, and he would like to represent Umuahia central constituency. But the tale of being the future Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly is far from reality, and it fails all tests of common sense and sound reasoning.
The first question any reasonable observer should ask is: Is he qualified? Judging from the constitutional requirements for such position, he is, indeed, qualified. The law requires that aspirants, who want to be in the state House of Assembly, should have a minimum of school leaving certificate. And Ikuku is an engineer, who graduated from the Federal University of Technology, Owerri. Also, he is above the statutory age of thirty, and he is a card carrying member of the PDP as well as a registered voter. I am not aware of any other requirement that is demanded of any aspirant seeking to become a state legislator.
Ordinarily, it is his constituency that has the final say on whether or not he will represent them, and not some person at Abuja, or another person at Lagos, who sits before computers. If you are not from the same constituency with him, you have no further role to play regarding his aspiration and emergence, or otherwise. Similarly, the Speaker of Abia State House of Assembly and other Speakers in other States House of Assembly are elected by legislators through majority of votes cast by them. If the elected members in the House decide that Mr. A wouldn’t be their Speaker, there is truly nothing anyone could do about it. Usually, the best lobbyist gets it, but more often, the majority party led by whoever is the incumbent governor would have a say with a view to aligning the legislative contest to the zoning arrangement of the party, and in line with the state version of Federal Character Principles.
With the likelihood that the next Governor of Abia State will come from Ukwa/ Ngwa political bloc of the state, it is not difficult to see that the deputy governor will likely come from Abia North Senatorial zone, while the Speaker will emerge from Abia central. Within Abia central, any elected member of the House, who is from Isiala Ngwa (north and south), Osisioma, Umuahia central, or Umuahia east could be made the Speaker, especially if the individual is a returning legislator, which Ikuku will not be if elected in 2015.
While some of us see the entrance of Ikuku into the race as a good development, it is really not difficult to see that he will not contest for the position of the Speaker. In the first place, he doesn’t seem to be the type that will want to tie himself down at Umuahia, running around the governor. He is even well advised to avoid being seen as bending down the neck of whoever emerges the governor in 2015. Moreover, it is highly unlikely that the position will be “zoned” to Umuahia central given that the same constituency has produced the incumbent governor from 2007 to 2015. It is more likely to go to Umuahia east, or Umuahia. And it will be, most likely, someone from the old PDP bloc. Not many people know that there are two groups in Abia PDP: the original PDP members as at 2010/ 11 and those who joined from APGA/ PPA with Ochendo in 2011. Positions are shared among members of these groups, and it is not likely to be different in 2015.
Rather than seeing Ikuku’s ambition as being negative, some of us prefer to view it as a good development, and an act of political humility. Considering the image of Ikuku, which is created by his transducers, one would have thought that he himself being a member of Abia State House of Assembly would be a “junior” political position for him to aspire for. More so, known relative of the former governor of the state clinched a Federal House of Representative seat for Aba by merely showing interest when his brother was a governor. If Ikuku had decided to contest for a seat at the House of Representatives, I wonder if any law could have stopped him. The precedence set by the former governor would have worked in his favor. Therefore, it shows a massive dose of hypocrisy if the noise against his quest to represent his people comes from the camp of the erstwhile governor, whose brother was in the Federal House of Representatives, and another brother of his was a local government chairman.
Most people in Abia State had complained, maybe rightly, that Ikuku had no platform because he had not held any political position in Abia State. And now that the young man has decided to join the process from a humble position, same people have complained again. What exactly do they want? Like my people will ask: ele ihe emere ya adi uwa nma? Does it mean that if one’s father has made it to a political office that such person has lost a right to nurse political ambition? Better don’t say it to Yaradua, Azikiwe, Balewa, Shagari, Obama, Okwu, Ojukwu, Awolowo, Tinubu, Orji etc families. They know that a member of a family, who is in politics, could help to hone the skills of others and prepare them with superior political skills rather than whine endlessly. Ultimately, it is the electorate that will decide, and in Ikuku’s case, he has chosen friendly electorate, and he has narrowed the competition. His quest for power has no link to his father’s decision to serve Abia Central Senatorial zone stating that one position could lead to Abuja, and another position could lead to Umuahia. I wonder if my son will one day be barred from working for MTN because I am working for GLO. If such should happen, would that be deemed right?
My advice to those who are uncomfortable with Ikuku’s political ambition is that they should identify with a better candidate from Umuahia central and support him to defeat Ikuku during the PDP primaries, or even go under the umbrella of another political party and contest against him if he is the PDP candidate. Media lynching of Ikuku and sending frivolous sms is a lazy man’s approach to solving what they have considered a problem. Adding that it beats my imagination how the choice of the people of Umuahia central (if they choose Ikuku) should be a problem to someone from Abiriba or Ugwunagbo. Moreover, if Ikuku is as bad as they have tried to make us believe, then it would be easy to defeat him at home. Why then are we drinking panadol for Umuahia central headache?
Incidentally, I have known the real Ikuku for more than 4 years now. I sympathize with him because of the attacks he has had from his father’s political enemies, who believe, for whatever reason, that his decapitation will make their job of humiliating his father easier. Obviously, he has more than proved to be their match, and he has, effectively, shielded his father from their wicked swords. I like him for that. Because if my father were to be in same position and powerful enemies and all manner of selfish people were after him, I would have done exactly what Ikuku had done. And I would have done even more. There was just no way I would have sat down quietly and allowed my father’s enemies to attack or distract him from performing his constitutional duties to Ndi Abia. If you wouldn’t do same for your dad, kindly raise your hand up for counting. Remember to tell us your father’s name, and also, you have to submit an authentic DNA test result as proof to show that he is really your father, because your mother may have lied to you.
It looks to me that the next Abia House of Assembly will be set with stars, judging by the caliber of men in the race, who want to represent their people. Of course, we all know that the present state House is largely a product of political negotiation in the sense that the governor, in 2011, agreed to support all legislators so that they could take back their seats. And as a man who usually keeps to his promises, he ensured that all of them returned to the House. Many of us were uncomfortable with the arrangement, but their constituencies, in the actual sense, re-elected them, so there wasn’t much anyone could do. But it appears that no such arrangement is in place this time, and every man is dependent on his political network. Of course, you have to show your record to your people, and they, in return, will decide your fate. It is this thinking, maybe, that led to many high caliber candidates emerging from different constituencies. My good friend and brother, Dr. Eze Chikamnayo, is already in the field, canvassing for the support of the people of Umunneochi. I hear that Chief Cosmos Ndukwe is gearing up to join the race. Even my hometown is “hot” with young men like Hon. Obasi Aso getting ready to represent the ancient Kingdom of Abiriba. This time, maybe, the legislative election in Abia State will regain its prominence as it used to be in the then Imo State when my uncle, Chief Ibe Agbai Ota, defeated the candidate of another uncle to emerge as an honourable member representing us.
Bring on the real contests joor; forget about scary rumor mongering and nefarious politicking. Abians are too intelligent. They will not allow people with selfish interests to fight for our collective interest. If it favors you, it is all well and good. It is called power game, and losers retain the right to call press conferences while victors celebrate.
May the best win in all contests. Maka oganiru Abia.


Posted on October, 31 2014

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