The sudden and painful death of the former Governorship Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abia State, Prof. Uche Ikonne, a few weeks to the general election did not only distabilise the ruling party but created more worries for a party that was already in tatters, like an old, worn out and dismembered umbrella, being its symbol.
The party began to court crisis for itself, when its leadership resolved to zone its governorship slot to Abia Central and Abia North against the popular demand and agitation for power shift to Abia North, since the incumbent Governor Okezie Ikpeazu from Abia South took over from Abia Central after Senator Theodore Orji’s eight years administration as governor.
Since power had sequentially gone round, in what is popularly termed Okezue Abia, it was only logical and ideal that it should return to Abia North for orderliness in a cyclical rotational sequence.
Unfortunately, those who canvassed that it should be thrown open to Abia Central and Abia North received the governor’s backing in sympathy for his Ngwa kith and kin domiciled in Abia Central.
It was obvious that Ikpeazu’s discreet support, which has today proved to be counter-productive for the party, was largely instrumental for the emergence of late Ikonne.
Again, this was in line with the resolution of the Ukwa-la-Ngwa elders that power could only rotate between Old Bende and Old Aba Division rather than on the basis of senatorial districts.
On that premise, they further resolved to equalise the 16 years that Old Bende had been in power, beginning with Senator Orji Kalu, from 1999 to 2007, and Senator Theodore Orji, from 2007 to 2015.
But as the popular saying goes, man proposes but God disposes.
No doubt, the singular resolve by the party to keep power in Abia Central and indeed Ngwa extraction, for possibly the next eight years, denying Abia North what was considered their turn, created a huge crack in the party.
It also set party members from Abia North at daggers drawn with their counterparts from Abia Central, with each side dangerously plotting to outsmart the other to clinch the ticket by hook or crook.
The crack got wider and more pronounced with the defection of critical stakeholders of the party, including three major pillars upon which the party derived its dominance of the Abia’s political space.
These pillars, who also indicated their aspirations for the party’s governorship ticket, included Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, Prof. Gregory Ibe and Mr. Nana Nwafor.
These aggrieved PDP chieftains dumped the party along with their teeming supporters and while Enyinnaya Abaribe and Gregory Ibe birthed at the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Nana Nwafor anchored at the Young Peoples Party.
And, beyond the foregoing, another founding member of the party and governorship aspirant, Dr Samson Orji, popularly known as SCUORJI, dragged the party to court to challenge the outcome of the party’s controversial governorship primary, which literally ratified the choice of Ikonne.
However, a former chairman of the party, Chief Emma Nwaka, and Deputy Governor Ude Oko-Chukwu, who were tactically schemed out of the race for the governorship ticket, stoically suppressed their ruptured emotions, disappointment and frustration from their purported loss at the primary election.
The post-primary election developments in the ruling party obviously threw it in disarray with all the aggrieved members working at cross purposes with the Chief Alwell Asiforo-led State Working Committee.
This was the self-inflicted dilemma the party plunged itself into and was still grappling with the repercussion when the worst happened with Ikonne’s unexpected demise.
Following Ikonne’s death and in the build up to the election of a successor, both senatorial districts of Abia Central and Abia North resumed their horse-trading to win the sympathy of the almost 600 delegates for the re-run primary election.
So, the squabbles in the party became messier again with the micro-zoning of the governorship ticket to Isialangwa North, a decision taken by the party caucus, considered politically correct to compensate the area over the death of their son, Ikonne.
To demonstrate their dissension to the micro-zoning arrangement, three aspirants from Abia North, namely Ude Oko-Chukwu, Sampson Orji and Emma Nwaka, in addition to Chief Lucky Igbokwe, popularly called Don Lulu, from Abia Central, returned to the race for the ticket.
A conspiracy among the three other aspirants from Nwga axis of Abia Central saw Mrs Ezenwanyi Jonah, Mr Eric Opah and Bob Chiedozie Ogu, step down for their brother, Chief Okey Ahiwe, who was the governor’s Chief of Staff and anointed one.
At the end of the exercise at the Umuahia Township Stadium, Okey Ahiwe, an unprepared aspirant, emerged the party’s emergency governorship candidate, replacing the late Professor of Optometry.
But if the choice of Ahiwe by the governor over and above those who had over the years demonstrated the preparedness, competence and capacity to take up the huge task of governance brought PDP to ridicule, the decision to dispense with late Ikonne’s running mate, Chief Okey Igwe, on the flimsy allegation that he had dual citizenship, appears to have further exposed PDP to greater trouble and political brouhaha than it can easily handle before the March 11 governorship poll.
The choice of a University of Nigeria, Nsukka lecturer, Dr Jasper Uche, another unprepared candidate, over Okey Igwe, who had criss-crossed the entire length and breadth of the state canvassing for votes for the party, while Ikonne was in his sick bed, certainly portrayed PDP as an insensitive and callous political entity.
Nevertheless, Abia indigenes who believe in the power of prayers for divine intervention in the affairs of the state have, however, reasoned that the recent unusual happenings in PDP were orchestrated by Act of Providence. Meaning that as good Christians would always say, the spiritual controls the physical.
So, that being the case, it means that there is a divine manipulation of the entire episodes in PDP to pave the way for the eventual emancipation of Abia, God’s own state, and its people from the stranglehold of its oppressors.
It is unfortunate to say at this juncture, that one political party that has monopolised power in the state since the return of democratic governance in 1999 eventually acquired absolute power, became absolutely corrupted and transformed itself into a political vampire, sucking and living on the blood of Abia and its innocent citizens for the past 24 years.
Under the same period, Abia’s socio-economic development had regrettably remained on a downward trajectory, even with its enormous human and material endowment for sustainable growth in all spheres of life.
Unfortunately, today, the state remains a laughing stock in the comity of states of the federation, having been overtaken by its contemporaries and much younger sister-state, Ebonyi, which was carved out from Abia on Oct. 1, 1996.
This is why the upcoming governorship election is considered a golden opportunity to the Abia electorate to reject PDP’s evil machinations to impose yet another emergency governor, like the outgoing Governor Ikpeazu.
Recall that Ikpeazu emerged out of the blue as the party’s candidate in 2014, after the powers-that-be had dispensed with much reliable, focussed and prepared governorship aspirants, namely Dr Sampson Uche Ogah and Chief FN Nwosu, who had both spent fortunes in search of the elusive ticket.
Indeed, Abia and its citizenry, who have been scammed by successive governments, cannot afford another gamble with a governor whose integrity remains shady and questionable and whose source of wealth cannot be verified.
It is high time we thoroughly scrutinised the present and past records of all those who have jumped into the fray from different political platforms, yet sprouting from one root with a common agenda to continue to loot and plunder our common patrimony as their predecessor-godfathers did.
Of course, the time to sound the death knell for a party that encourages godfatherism and continued exploitation and impoverishment of the state and the citizenry is now.
With barely few weeks to go to the poll to chose our governor for the next four and perhaps eight years, it is imperative that we pause and examine the record of the political gladiators across the frontline political parties, in terms of their character, capacity, competence, consistency, integrity, work history and general social background.
On that score and without mincing words, the Labour Party governorship candidate, Dr. Alex Otti, shines like a bright morning star and stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Suffice it to recall that Abia residents voted massively and handed an overwhelming victory to him in 2015 but the then Pharaoh of Abia conspired with his other principalities and forces of evil and refused to let God’s own people go.
This is another opportunity to reenact the 2015 feat.
With the innovations introduced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), including the Bimodal Verification Accreditation System (BVAS), it is obvious that the traditional practice of manufacturing non-existent votes through the incident forms no longer has any place in the current electoral process.
This is why every eligible voter should rise and seize the opportunity to vote and vote wisely for the most qualified and trusted candidate, believing that God has clipped the wings of election riggers in the state.
It is imperative therefore to appeal to well-meaning Abia men, women and youths to troop out en mass to vote for the future of their children and the state on March 11.
It is obvious that any vote cast for Alex Otti guarantees a transparent, accountable, visionary, focused, development and people-oriented leadership for the next four or more years.
Vote for the party with a logo that bears Papa, mama and pikin for a great and prosperous Abia.