Following the clamour in some quarters over which section should succeed Governor Okezie Ikpeazu in 2023, an elder statesman and one of the founders of Abia of State has said that governorship of the state should go to the Isuikwuato axis of Abia North in 2023.
Nze Paul Onyemaechi Palaogbo Ogbonna, an elder statesman and one of the founders of Abia State, said this while condemning the stance of the Ngwa axis of Abia Central Senatorial zone, which styles itself the Umunneato group, a socio-cultural group. He accused the group of trying to alter the political arrangement of the founding fathers by claiming that it is their turn to govern the state beginning from 2023 after an Ngwa man has ruled the from 2015 to 2023.
The local government areas in Ngwa axis of Abia Central Senatorial zone are: Isiala Ngwa North, Isiala Ngwa South and Osisioma Ngwa. He described their plan to flout the provisions of “Abia Charter of Equity” as unbecoming, ridiculous and inimical to the growth and peace of Abia State.
Nze Ogbonna is one signatories of Abia Charter of Equity still alive. He believed that it is dangerous to work against a document simply because an election is coming. Indeed, the view expressed in many quarters concerning the 2023 governorship poll in the state is that there should be a shift from the present Abia South to Abia North.
The current governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, hails Abia South while his predecessor, Chief Theodore Orji, hails from Umuahia axis of Abia Central Senatorial zone. He governed from 2007 to 2015 as Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, whom Orji succeeded and comes from Abia North ruled from 1999 to 2017. Governor Ikpeazu, an Ngwa man, will complete his tenure in 2023.
Nze Ogbonna, who is from Ukwa axis of Abia State, questioned the rationale behind the agitation of some Ngwa people in Abia Central since their kinsman is already occupying the exalted seat. “Is it because they are in Abia Central where they are sharing a zone with Umuahia people?” He also queried the reason some Ngwa folks are trying to work against a revered document like the Abia Charter of Equity.
His words, “What could be more dangerous than working against a revered document prepared, agreed and signed by the founding fathers of Abia State, who are devoted to the fight for unity, fairness, peace, equity and justice? Anybody who is committed to the wellbeing of Abia State should promote and protect what binds us together rather than, because of selfishness and greed, promote what will scatter us.”
He stated this recently at his Obehie country home, Asa, Ukwa West Local Government Area of Abia State. The elder statesman was amongst those that spoke to media on 30th Anniversary of Abia State. Abia State was created on August 27 1991.
Nze Ogbonna, who will be 85 years old by December 2021, is presently a wood worker. He is also an artist of great standing. He bemoaned the audacity of the Umunneato socio-the cultural group for making such demand and described it as a pitiable and incredible move to violate the sages and rare wisdom of grey heads, who are the founding fathers of the state and framers of the charter.
Similarly, a former Senate President, Adolphus Wabara, lashed out at the agitators of the power shift to Ngwa axis of Abia Central Senatorial zone, asking them to perish the idea in the interest of the state.
Wabara counselled Governor Ikpeazu to stand by equity and ensure he hands over governorship position in line with equity because according to him, he (Ikpeazu) is a product of equity.
Nonetheless, the octogenarian said that most of those who call themselves Ukwa la Ngwa stakeholders were not mature when the document was formed and, therefore, might not understand or comprehend the tediousness, time, commitment and sacrifices invested to script and enact a document that shall govern how the people of the state run their political activities to avert chaos, discord and disunity.
He argued that it will be an uncharitable political voyage to venture into an activity that can obliterate an agreement of men of repute who had reasons that were not personal to chart the oneness of our God’s own State.
Nze Ogbonna was the vice chairman of the committee that drafted the charter. He went into memory lane to explain the birth of Abia State, which according to him, was not achieved on a platter of gold. He disclosed that when they constituted a team of notable men, more than 100 in number, to fight for the creation of Abia State, there were considerations, sacrifices, which were made by the component units to get them to agree on a workable document that promoted, still promotes “cohabitation, co-ownership and gives everyone a sense of belonging”.
The elder statesman explained that, “When you understand the long list of men of repute; in the persons of Prof S N Nwagbara, Chief B A Nwachukwu, Chief H K Offonry, HRH Eze Ezo Ukandu, HRH Eze I Nwadinobi, Prof S O Igwe and more than 72 others ably led by the late Dr M I Okpara; the Premier of Eastern Region and chaired by EzeOgo Anaga Ezikpe, you may understand the rigorous efforts invested in the struggle and the need to protect the document.”
He stated that the unique role members of Isuikwuato District played in the quest for the creation of Abia State and reiterated the need to pacify the district.
He narrated the tedious task they passed through before convincing their Isuikwuato brothers to be part of the struggle for the creation of Abia State. “These challenges prompted us to name our document “OnyeAghalaNwanneya” (be your brother’s keeper).
He said it was during one of the meetings at Methodist Church, Nkwoegwu Okpuala, Afugiri in Umuahia North LGA that the name Abia was founded. He explained the components of the acronym Abia to mean; (a) Afikpo (b) Bende (i) Isuikwuato and Aba forming the word “Abia”.
Nze Ogbonna reiterated how they also agreed that the governorship seat should be rotated and zoned alphabetically, while saying that Afikpo had taken their slot through Governor Ogbonnaya Onu, presently the Minister of Science and Technology. Afikpo is now in Ebonyi State created in 1996.
The Enyi Abia further explained that the part in the acronym Abia that has not benefited from the zoning arrangement is Isuikwuatothe (I) in the acronym. He maintained “Abia Charter of Equity” is God’s send in that by senatorial arrangement/ zoning the governorship should be zoned to Abia North and by “Abia Charter of Equity” It should be micro zoned to Isuikwuato District who have not benefited from the agreement.
He said, “During the tenure of His Excellency, Governor T. A.Orji as the Governor of Abia State, we, the Abia State Council of Elders, advised him through Eze Ogo Dr. AnagaEzikpe to work towards handing over governorship slot to Abia South. The quest was not out of sentiments but because it was the right thing to do.
“Currently, our Abia North and other members of Abia State Council of Elders; both living and dead, are waiting for us to speak up just like they spoke when it was our turn, the people of Abia South, that made us to get it. We are speaking up now, which is why I must appreciate my younger brother, His Excellency, Senator Adolphus Wabara, who is standing very tall on the right path.
“For us who are living, we cannot witness a decision meant to decimate and violate the agreement of the founding fathers of Abia State to see the light of the day. We must keep speaking up. We can’t afford doom befalling our state. Our son, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, is already doing a lot to advance Abia State forward better than he met it. We shall keep looking for advancement of what he has achieved so far.
“The agreement of the founding fathers should be respected. We advised Governor T.A. Orji when it mattered most and he listened well and held the charter strongly. I reassert my happiness once again for my brother, His Excellency, Senator Adolf Wabara, who has spoken out loud and clear for Abians to hear. As an elder and Vice Chairman of the Committee that drafted the Abia Charter of Equity, Enyi Abia and a signatory to the revered document, lend my voice to other voices of reason to advise our dear son, His Excellency, Governor Okezie Victor Ikpeazu Phd, to rise up to the occasion and grow from the son of equity to the father of equity like his predecessor, His Excellency, Governor T. A. Orji.
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