Published On: Sun, Aug 26th, 2018

2019: Contest for Abia guber seat gathers momentum

…as several aspirants throw their hats into the ring

From PETER OKORE, Umuahia

Ahead of political parties’ primaries, which will usher-in the 2019 general electoral processes in Nigeria, the political atmosphere is gradually getting polarized and assuming feverish pitch. At the moment the fanfare on defection by politicians to other parties, political party coalition arrangements and nocturnal meetings on how to manipulate or brainstorm on the easiest way to victory in the forthcoming elections appear to dominate political activities and public places.

Aspirants have started crisscrossing  rural communities to blow their trumpets, interface with personalities who matter, form political  pressure groups (of men, women and youth wings), mapping-out  electioneering strategies, showcase their achievements and the release of manifestos containing what they will do if elected.

In some parts of Abia-North and Abia-South senatorial districts, people have started hearing of uncomplimentary acts, like assassinations, threats of possible violence and intimidations.  Recently, we have heard that a chieftain of a political party was assassinated at Isuikwuato Local Government Area two weeks ago, while another incident has also been    reported from Isialangwa-South Local Government Area.

Unfortunately, these are said to be strongholds or areas of great hopes for the opposition parties in the state, particularly, the All Progressives Congress, APC and All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA.

Meanwhile, the airwaves are currently awash with political slogans, jingles and programmes put-together by praise-singers and sycophants. There are also serious allegations that bill boards and posters belonging to political opponents, mounted at strategic locations in the cities without any good reason other than the 2019 coming general elections in the country, are being destroyed by touts.

The APC senatorial candidate for Abia-South, Chief Marc Wabara,  was one of the early birds to cry-out about this devilish acts by people suspected to be political thugs.

Of course, the Abia state government has noticed this ugly development and consequently issued a statement through the state commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu. In the statement, Kalu condemned the acts and warned perpetrators of the serious consequences that await anyone caught in the act.

Media officers attached to the various political parties in the state have similarly issued statements warning their members to desist from unwholesome activities now, during and even after the forthcoming general elections in the country.

Another trend in Abia state is that some aspirants from the three front runner parties in Abia, namely the ruling PDP, APC and APGA have started declaring their intentions to contest the 2019 general elections. Top on the list is that for the Abia governorship seat and the interested candidates have approached their respective party secretariats to publicly declare intentions to contest the primaries.

Also an alleged factional leader of the APC, Dr. Emmanuel Ndukwe is reportedly touring parts of Abia state for undisclosed reasons and intentions. Following this information, the recognised leadership of the APC in Abia has placed advertisements denying and disassociating themselves from the group and purported LGA tour.

It will be recalled that the National leadership of the party in Abuja had earlier this year recognised Chief Donatus Nwankpa  as authentic leader of APC in Abia state.

This notwithstanding, however, from the look of things, the PDP in Abia may have a consensus candidate, in the person of the incumbent governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, in obedience to the party’s zoning arrangement. The party (PDP) wants Ikpeazu to be given a return ticket to complete the two tenures for Abia-South. He is presently getting the mandate of almost all PDP members and traditional rulers in various communities of the state.

Comrade Chris Akomas

But the Abia state chapter chairman of the PDP, Sir Johnson Onuigbo says every contestant in the forthcoming general elections would be given a level playing ground to face both the party primaries and major general elections. He, however, added that every candidate must make concerted efforts to sell himself or herself as well as their manifestos to the electorate.

In pursuance of the  Abia PDP zoning stance, in compliant to the Abia Charter of Equity, coupled with the insinuation that Abians need a change in party leadership in the state(PDP having ruled Abia for 18 consecutive  years running), other political parties appear to be cashing-in on this arrangement to seek for a share of that arrangement. They are bent on    picking their guber candidates from Abia-South to challenge the chances of Ikpeazu clinching the seat for a second tenure for PDP.

Indeed, the opposition parties appear to reason that since the slot (2015-2023) is mapped out  for the Ukwangwa bloc to complete their tenure; PDP has done four years (with Ikpeazu as governor), it then follows that another party should do the remaining four(4) years, to complete the eight (8) years for Abia –south( Ukwangwa).

As a result, parties are taking their time to pick their candidate for the job. Even at that, sources say there is an underground movement by the opposition to ensure they succeed in their bid to grab power in Abia. By this the rest of the parties intend to form a coalition of political parties against the PDP, after the primaries.

There is  also (an un-written MoU) that, for the 2019 election, the candidate from Ukwangwa zone, who will eventually emerge as governor, should promise to run for ONE term of four years only. No second tenure. This gospel is presently making the rounds in the state.

Dr. Otti

However, candidates from the opposition involved in this negotiation to    beat the PDP in the 2019 elections are listed here-under:

Dr. Alex Otti: He was the former Managing Director of Diamond Bank, Plc. He was the APGA governorship candidate, who contested against Ikpeazu   in the 2015 governorship election in Abia and lost. He believes that he has the support of Abians and that he won 2015 election in Abia, but lost it through judicial processes.

He said, this time around, he is coming to reclaim his mandate under the same APGA. He promised to run for one tenure, make the desired impact and exit, saying that late Michael Okpara did not do second tenure, yet    achieved so much for former Eastern Region of Nigeria.

Chief Chikwe Udensi: He is also seeking the mandate under APGA. He is a Global Interpol consultant. He also contested the guber primaries in 2015 election under the APGA. He is saying that he lost his 2015 mandate to Alex Otti, whom he said joined APGA after he lost the primaries as a former member of PDP.

His regret is that Alex Otti won the 2015 governorship election, but could not follow his mandate. Though he comes from Abia-North zone, Udensi has equally opted to contest the primaries again for the 2019 elections. “Whoever wins the primaries should go; while the loser will support the winner”, he said.

Chief Chikwe Udensi

However APC state Chairman, Chief Donatus Nwankpa has warned that APC has no particular candidate in mind. He says all of them will face the primaries. “Whoever succeeds will fly the Party’s flag for the Abia governorship seat in the 2019 elections. He insists that APC would win in Abia, come 2019, alleging that the rigging strategies of the PDP has crashed and that votes will count, this time.

According to Nwankpa , in APC the power of nomination rests with the electorate. The persons to fly the APC flag must be people with conscience, integrity, maturity, stressing that APC will not give a mediocre to Abians as governor.”

Chief Martins Azubuike: He hails from Isialangwa- North LGA of Abia state and defected from PDP to APC early this year. He has been the member representing Isialangwa state constituency in Abia House of Assembly for 12 years, under the PDP. He was Speaker in Abia House of Assembly for 18 months.

Speaking during his declaration to contest the party primaries at the Party secretariat,  Azubuike said his candidature as Abia governor will truly re-unite  the whole of Abia again. He said his goal as governor is to transform Abia economy and society by creating an economy that will serve all Abians. He promised to establish what he called, a Restoration Agenda for the development of Abia state.

Chief Martins Azubuike

Comrade Chris Akomas: He is another aspirant who wants to run for only four years, if nominated and elected governor in 2019. Akomas is a BoT member of the ruling APC and erstwhile deputy governor of Abia state. He was the flag bearer of the Progressive Peoples’ Alliance, PPA, in 2011 gubernatorial race in the state. He has formerly declared his interest to run for the race again under the platform of the APC.

Addressing leadership of the party from the 17 local government areas of the state and members of the State Working Committee at his Nenu Country- home in Obingwa Local government Area of the State, weekend, Akomas informed them  that his interest to contest for the governorship seat of the State is informed by his strong belief in Abia project which goes beyond politics.

Dr. Uche Ogah

 Now a chieftain of the APC, Ogah contested for the Abia State governorship seat in the 2015 general election on the platform of the PDP. He has also given his words to contest in the 2019 guber election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) against the incumbent, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of the PDP, if he scales through the primaries.

Speaking to APC faithful recently Ogah, re-iterated that he lost the 2015 PDP governorship ticket during the party primary to Ikpeazu and unsuccessfully challenged Ikpeazu’s declaration as winner of the election at different levels of courts. He said he thereafter decamped from the PDP to the APC.

Ogah then spoke to his party members of the need to build a new Abia to bring about, what he called, “a revolution in Abia”:“You have asked me out, I am going to work for you, because I have what it takes and will take Abia to greater heights, where the youths have a future without dichotomy and sectionalism.”

Sir Friday Nwosu: Nwosu was another former gubernatorial candidate in the 2015 election, who has also declared his intention to run for governor of Abia state on the platform of the APC. He has promised to establish a Neighbourhood Watch to complement the effort of security agencies in ensuring protection of lives and property in the state.

Addressing party faithful at the state secretariat in Umuahia, Nwosu explained that if elected he will encourage to go back to the farms, explaining that farming was the mainstay of the state economy before the oil boom.  He alleged that the present government of Abia has mis-used state funds, thereby subjecting the state workforce to untold hardship.

Speaking during an interactive session at his country-home, Igbere ,an  APC  chieftain and former governor of Abia state, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu  said the ruling APC would end what he called “PDP’s rigging jamboree” in Abia State and take over the State by winning the 2019 elections.
According to Orji Kalu, APC would “free Abia people from bondage” by the PDP administration in the State.

He accused the PDP administration of thriving in propaganda and lies, rather than delivering dividends of democracy by providing amenities that would uplift the lives of the citizens.

Kalu urged APC members not to be intimidated by the ruling PDP in the state but to remain steadfast in their support for President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

“Forget the saying that PDP will rig the election, it will not be possible again; just do your work well. That era of their rigging is gone”, he said.

 

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