When we read the article titled “the toddler Governor” published by Thisday Newspaper of February 19th 2017 and credited to one Amalaha who claimed to be a “public affairs analyst” the following statement made by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu on the 20th of June 2016 came to mind.
“My dear brothers and sisters from Ukwa/Ngwa, it is true that I am one of you, it is also true that we’ve not been governor until now, but I am the Governor of Abia State, and not just
the Governor of Ukwa/Ngwa people.
“So when I want to take decisions about our state, I will think of
Abia as a state and not Abia South or Ukwa/Ngwa. This is one truth
that I must tell you. I know where I come from, and our brothers and sisters from Old Bende know that I come from somewhere. We must be fair to every Abian and visitors to our land.”
Apparently the author of the ill disguised hit job against Ikpeazu published by Thisday was one of those the Governor directed his town hall statement at but he apparently failed to understand the full meaning of what the Governor said. To him and his sponsors or co-conspirators, the Governor must act as the Governor of Ukwa/Ngwa nation for them to be satisfied.
We are proud to state that as early as 2011 our group was actively involved in advocating for the emergence of an Abia Governor in 2015 from among the Ukwa Ngwa people. Though our members are from old Bende area of the state, we believed that the case for equity in power distribution in the state was a strong one given that our fathers wisely bequeathed a charter of equity to us that rightly supported power rotation and political inclusiveness in the affairs of the state.
Those familiar with the political history of Abia State since 1999 will tell you that the feeling of political exclusion or marginalization by the Ukwa/Ngwa nation was largely responsible for the state not quickly attaining its full developmental potentials. From 2003 we had started having political tensions in the state and by 2007 things became pretty hot after the election of another old Bende born Governor from the Abia Central Senatorial zone. Whereas the Ukwa/Ngwa people making up 9 LGAs of the state’s 17 LGAs were once more unable to produce the Governor even though they presented candidates in all the previous two and subsequent elections held in the state.
When academician, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, from Ukwa/Ngwa axis of the state finally emerged as the candidate of the ruling PDP in 2014, it was clear to many that his candidacy, which was hailed by the majority of non professional politicians and common folks, disappointed many others who felt that they should be entitled to the ticket. The feeling then was that Dr Ikpeazu was a political outsider relative to those who felt entitled to the position by virtue of their involvement in the struggle for the emergence of a Governor of Ukwa/Ngwa origin.
Some of those who felt entitled were former this and that at the state and federal level who may have been politically active in the quest for power rotation in the state. Significantly, this group of sore politicians never really accepted the candidacy of Dr Ikpeazu who was by far a more acceptable candidate to the rest of the state because of his well known pan Abia disposition as against the clan warlords from Ukwa/Ngwa and even Old Bende areas.
It is instructive to note that aside from one or two of those with political entitlement mentality, most of the sore losers never supported Dr Ikpeazu but worked against his election privately and publicly. Our investigations show that they were also responsible for the unnecessary tax certificate controversy against Dr Ikpeazu who prior to his election was a serving public official whose taxes were deducted at source.
It is therefore reasonable to assume that Amalaha’s sponsors are within this group of self acclaimed entitled persons who wrongly believed that if power is not handed over to them or they be allowed to foist their rather parochially clannish agenda on the state they will not be happy.
The whole article published by Thisday is a public rant against the Governor for deservedly winning a seat they felt belongs to them by right, as well as an attempt to pass a vote of no confidence on the Governor for not allowing them to turn him to an Ukwa/Ngwa Governor.
Make no mistake about this, those behind that article are expressing the frustrations of their group, which is a minority clique in the Ngwa political establishment, against the Governor who in word and deed is running his affairs strictly as the Governor of Abia State of Nigeria made up of 17 LGAs.
We are solidly behind the Governor.
It is interesting that elements of this group who are/were in the current government at various levels are currently sponsoring malicious media campaigns against the Governor. Some of them lost out in their quest to corner political positions and patronage and are responsible for the largely unfounded complaints of Ngwa domination that few individuals from Old Bende are also already complaining about.
To us, it is a good sign that no group in the state currently feel they have cornered the Governor exclusively.
The author and his sponsors accepted that in terms of qualification and skills required to successfully govern a state, Governor Ikpeazu is unmatched all round. According to author of the article; “initially it appeared that God in answering their prayers looked past their foibles and instead anointed a person of substance. This fellow has wonderful oratorical gifts and is such a powerful public speaker that even the greatest speakers ever known by mankind like the Barrack Obamas, Abraham Lincolns, Martin Luther Kings, John F. Kennedy’s, etc. look like green-horns compared to him. He knows how to say all the right things and can hold even the most hostile audience spell-bound and eating out of his hands”.
Mr Amalaha is right that Governor Ikpeazu is a great communicator but putting that down to oratory is where he got it wrong. Dr Ikpeazu is simply a well educated man who speaks frankly, listens honestly and acts empathetically towards all and sundry without allowing high office seduce him into thinking of being superior to others. It is a well known fact that “orators” actually lack the ability to speak honestly but use words only to impress and manipulate the audience. Not so with Governor Ikpeazu.
Every Abian and indeed Ukwa/Ngwa man should be proud of Governor Ikpeazu’s 20 months stewardship as Governor of Abia state. We will not be exaggerating if we state that he has done more than all his predecessors did in each of their full 8 years terms and when the time comes an overwhelming majority of our people will troop out to re-elect him.
A visit to Aba, the heart of Ukwa/Ngwa nation and indeed Abia State will confirm the fact of Governor Ikpeazu’s superior performance. Already, more than 15 well constructed roads with gutters on both sides have been commissioned. The first ever flyover in Abia state is under construction at Osisioma roundabout and for the first time in history the challenge of flooding along Ukwu Mango Ariaria to Faulks/Brass street axis is being met with decisive action spearheaded by Setraco Construction company. More than 35 other road projects are ongoing at Aba with plans to take over perennially bad PH road Aba from the federal government and reconstruct it using an A-listed contractor almost concluded.
Many other roads within the Ukwa/Ngwa axis are receiving attention, alongside roads located at our Old Bende area. At least 8 new roads have been delivered at Umuahia so far with many other road projects ongoing. Other old Bende towns like Abam, Abiriba, Ohafia, Arochukwu, Umunneochi, Nkporo etc have benefited from Governor Ikpeazu’s caterpillar revolution in Abia state.
The streets of Aba and Umuahia are now lit at night with night life gradually returning to those key cities. Garments and leather work product makers are experiencing historical booms in business courtesy of the Governor’s carefully thought out and faithfully pursued “buy made in Aba” campaign that has attracted national and international acclaim.
What more can any development minded Ukwa/Ngwa or Abia man ask for?
Of course not everyone can be expected to appreciate the new dawn in Abia state championed by Governor Ikpeazu. Many will still bemoan their personal loss of Governorship seat of the state which they feel entitled to. Others will also pursue their small minded clannish pursuits that are ingrained in their DNA while others who lost out of the current Government can be expected to gang up against the incumbent in pursuit of an undefined agenda that begins and ends with them or nobody mentality.
In all these, majority of common Abians stand with the Governor because of what he is visibly doing to move the state forward.
The author did not complain about substantial non performance by the Governor or critically x-ray any failure in performance of his duties.
Rambling about drinking expensive brandy is the stuff losers throw at you when they have nothing else to say. We doubt that there is any Governor in Nigeria today that works as hard as Governor Ikpeazu whose doors are daily open to all till the early hours of the morning. He continues to connect with citizens from all parts of the state through regular visits and interactions.
In more than 20 months of observing him and his leadership style we cannot remember ever seeing him taking any alcoholic drink at any public or private event. Making up stories of expensive wines and women therefore seems to us to be the type of stories people tell when they cannot find any wrong doing against a performing leader.
We are also aware that certain “elders” and so called “progressives” are not happy with the Governor for not continuing the practice of doling out money monthly to persons who feel entitled to monthly pay checks from the coffers of our state for simply being elders and progressives. Some others may have had their dreams of having a Governor who will come to their homes daily to take instructions on state matters frustrated. That they are now complaining openly, using the Amalahas of this world, confirm to us and most Abians that we now have a well grounded and independent minded Governor that we have been searching for since 1991.
More crucially, it is important that Amalaha, who is supposedly from the Ngwa axis, is complaining loudly just like some misguided persons of old Bende are complaining that the Governor is favoring Ukwa/Ngwa people. It represents a sure sign that the Governor is indeed doing a good job of balancing development and political patronage.
Rather than condemning the Governor we should actually praise him for acting out his words that he is the “Governor of all Abians”.
If all the achievements and actions of the Governor makes him a “toddler”, by all means Abians are happy to have a “toddler Governor” who belongs to nobody but belongs to all Abians. And if treachery means not allowing special interests fix a drain pipe on Abia’s treasury for personal aggrandizement, we will celebrate that as a new virtue.
“Character deficient and morally challenged” persons are those who invest in political support in expectation of being allowed to hijack the emergent government for personal or group benefits. Amalaha and his supporters certainly belong to that group and we emphatically demand that such folks should be disregarded in the New Abia led by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.
Ikeoha Kalu Uche is the president of old Bende Youths for Good Governance (OBYGG)