Ikpeazu enraged as DSS operative butchers former Abia deputy speaker
Okezie Ikpeazu, Abia State governor

From PETER OKORE, Umuahia

The unwillingness of the Abia state House of Assembly to domicile the Abia Charter of Equity, years since it became functional, appears to have put politics in the state in jeopardy. This neglect has created some lapses in Abia polity as to which way to go or who goes for them.

Today, Abia politics has become fragile and without direction; as it is riddled with confusion and controversies. Some gladiators have now resorted to speaking from the two sides of their mouths in an attempt to save face and continue being relevant.

Put straight, the document, “Abia Charter of Equity” was crafted by the founding fathers of the state, in the likes of former Premier of Eastern Region of Nigeria, late Dr. Michael Okpara, Akanu Ibiam, M.I.Kalu, Anaga Ezikpe and others, to make for even development of the state as well as ensure equity, justice and fairness in the distribution of appointments, facilities and amenities in the state.

In fact, It is being said, and emphatically too, that this document made the creation of Abia state come- easy. To make sure they (founding fathers) left a befitting legacy for posterity, they requested, in that document, that on the Abia state House of Assembly coming to life, the House should domicile the document and give it the teeth it deserves. But, till today, that document has not seen the four walls of the Abia House.

Sources confidently say that on the fateful day the last of those who drafted the Abia Charter of Equity (Dr. Anaga Ezikpe) gave-up, he was at the Office of the Secretary to Abia State Government, SSG, Mr. Chris Ezem, to present a proposal for the State Government to present the Abia Charter of Equity to the House as an Executive Bill.

Remarkably, it was at the 2021 Abia Day anniversary that Anaga Ezikpe made it point clear to Abians that “the greatest respect politicians in Abia state could give to the Founding Fathers of Abia state is to domesticate the Abia Charter of Equity”.

Ezikpe was last of those who wrote the Charter of Equity to depart the mother earth, a few months ago. He fought hard and pleaded profusely for the passage of the Charter into law before his death, but that never materialized until Nature called him.

And, it does not appear that the present crop of politicians in Abia, have any regards for that document anymore. It does not even suggest that they (politicians in Abia) would leave anything meaningful for posterity, except crisis and controversies.

For now, confusion and controversies have continued to trail the just-concluded party primaries in Abia state. While the mega political parties, notably the ruling People’s Democratic party, PDP; All Progressives Congress, APC and the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, are facing legal tussles in courts (instead of peoples votes) to determine who ought to be their standard-bearers in the 2023 governorship race.

However, others, in the likes of the Labour Party, LP; African Democratic Congress, ADC; Young People’s Party, YPP and the rest are now exploiting the lapses and the underdevelopment of Abia since creation, to busy themselves cris-crossing the hinterlands selling themselves and canvassing for supports.

They are exploiting the gap created by the anomalies in the polity , including abuse of party directives and guidelines, imposition of candidates with questionable characters against the people’s choice and other improprieties as well as manipulations employed in the conduct of the last primaries.

Political observers are of the opinion that if the level of the fragile and provocative nature political activities are left unchecked, the stage could turn bloody by the time electioneering commences later this year. At the moment, tensions are high and, as usual, youths, aged 23 and 30 years are being brainwashed and trained to be ICT compliance in readiness for next year’s elections. The purpose of such adhoc training is yet to be made public.

Arising from the just-concluded party primaries, the PDP, APC, APGA, to name a few, are now in fragments and left to wonder which way to go under the present circumstance.

To make matters worse, the series of strikes by the labour-force over unpaid salaries/ entitlements and weekly protests by pensioners for their pension rights, coupled with the withdrawals of Accreditations to Tertiary institutions in Abia by the National Universities Commission, NUC, insecurity, hunger etc, are compounding issues in Abia and putting the ruling party (even incoming ruling party) in the state in tight corners.

For instance, the fate of the governorship candidate of the PDP, Professor Uche Ikonne, appears to be hanging in the balance as an Abia State High Court, sitting in Aba, last week, reversed itself on its earlier order which recognized the controversial PDP three-man delegates-list that produced him.

It is being speculated that a fast game was played to produce the delegates-list, which produced Ikonne without party congress; and a delegates-list forwarded to the National Working Committee of the party, NWC and INEC in Abuja.

It will be recalled that one Akuoma Friday was one of those disturbed by that delegates-list and on 16th May , 2022, approached the court and prayed it to vacate its earlier order. According to prosecution, after due consideration of the suit, the court, presided over by Justice C.U.

Okoroafor, averred that it erred in law to have granted its earlier order. Justice Okorafor explained that the new National Judicial Council guideline had stripped the court of the jurisdiction to entertain such matter.
The PDP flag- bearer emerged after the court had issued an order on May 17, 2022, stating that only the 3-man Adhoc delegates list should be used for the purpose of electing the party’s governorship candidate.

That pre-convention order read in part: “The PDP National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu; PDP Abia State Chairman, Allwell Okere, PDP national organizing Secretary, and Independent National Electoral Commission INEC (1st to 5th defendants), their agents, privies, and employees, howsoever described, are hereby restrained in the interim from using, adopting or relying on any other list apart from the three-man Ad hoc list annexed herein as Exhibit ‘D’ as that has the name of the Claimant based on the Ad hoc election congresses or election of the 1st defendant (PDP) held on 6th May 2022 pending hearing and determination of the motion of notice.”

The court had also barred INEC from “recognizing and monitoring any primaries by the 1st defendant (PDP) sought to be conducted with any other delegates list from the 1st defendant (PDP) other than the three-man Ad hoc delegates list annexed hereto as Exhibit ‘D’ which contains the name of the Applicant as one of the three-man delegates congresses or election held in Abia State on 6th May 2022 pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.”

But in a ruling last Wednesday, the court granted the prayer of Akuoma Friday and vacated its order.

The NJC, in a bid to limit the multiplicity of political matters involving INEC, had on May 11, 2022, stated that “All suits to which these Policy Directions apply shall be filed, received, or entertained only at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in so far as the relief sought, or potential consequential order(s) or declaration(s) may restrain or compel persons or actions beyond the territorial jurisdiction of any one State.”

A chieftain of PDP who pleaded anonymity, said that the latest development was a danger-signal for the party (PDP) in Abia, stressing that the party had been thrown into confusion because of the desperation of some persons to have their way, not minding the illegality of their actions.

”So anything done based on an order by a court without jurisdiction is a nullity. What do we do to salvage the situation, if any; that’s the question now.”

Another bigwig said the court reversing itself in this matter suits the party well, as it refused to adhere to doing the right thing of ceding the governorship seat to Abia-North; since Abia-South is rounding-off its own tenure.

Aside the court ruling on Ikonne based on the delegates-list, his choice as a consensus candidate from Abia central zone and his performances at both the Abia state Polytechnic, Aba as well as in Abia state University, Uturu, as the vice chancellor, are other issues hanging on his neck.

But when contacted, the Acting Publicity Secretary of the PDP and the State Vice Chairman, Abia North, Elder Amah Abraham, said the party was handling the issues.”

The mess PDP has found itself today, defection of its key members to other parties and the polarized nature of the party, arose from wrong ceding of the guber stool to two senatorial zones, viz Abia North and Abia Central and choice of Ikonne as best qualified to fly the party’s flag next year.

Most disturbing is the fact that this is first time a seat is shared by two distinct; whereas Abia North alone is saturated with capable and competent leaders.

Ikonne comes from that Ngwa-side of Abia that forms Abia central, which has already had its turn. But he is only favoured and covered by alleged hidden Ngwa agenda to hold office for as long as they wished; as allegedly propounded by a one-time deputy governor in the state and former governorship aspirants of Ngwa extraction. They would like Abia to revert to the former Old Aba and Bende divisions.

Zoning according to the old Aba and Bande divisions is an ‘old-time’ arrangement which has graduated to Three senatorial zones in every state of the federation. But, for this 2023 election era, the Ngwa block would want it the old-time way. This is absurd and un-constitutional!

To lend credence, sources claim that the PDP’s reason for allocating the 2023 guber seat to the two senatorial districts is to enable the sitting governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu anoint his successor, in favour of an Ngwa-man. The argument being that former governor Orji Uzor Kalu, now senator representing Abia North in the National Assembly, anointed Chief Theodore Orji.

Chief Theodore Orji, now also representing Abia- Central in the National Assembly, anointed governor Okezie Ikpeazu, particularly, in obedience to the provisions of “Abia Charter of Equity”, which provided for “rotation arrangement” as enshrined in the Charter; the implementation of which was started by Chief T.A. Orji and with Ikpeazu becoming a test case.

In that sequence, Ikpeazu would want to have his own way by anointing his own-man, Prof. Uche Ikonne from his Ngwa bloc, the way his predecessors did. Several Abians opposed this arrangement. Former senate president, Chief Adolph Wabara spoke against it and he was booted out of his position at the Abia state University, Uturu.

Indeed, the crisis rocking the Abia chapter of the PDP deepened on Wednesday, May 10, 2022 as Senate Minority Leader Chief Enyinnaya Abaribe, 10 other aspirants and some political stakeholders rejected the delegates-list submitted to the party’ NWC and INEC, respectively.

Pundits say arrangements to achieve this agenda gave rise to the controversial 3-man Delegates–list. For instance, inside sources say that the conference that produced the 3-man adhoc Delegates –list was held, authenticated and forwarded to Abuja same day.

State secretary of the party, Mr. David Iro was the first person to advise against the illegality of that list. Immediately after his pronouncement he was sent on suspension and has remained suspended till time of doing this report.

Iro described the delegates-list as an impunity, saying that such should not be allowed in Abia state.

“How can such a document surface without holding party conference to select the three men? How can such an activity hold and letter written without the consent or involvement of the party secretary, he queried?”

As the ruling PDP in Abia state was gradually losing the confidence of the people, the masses have started looking the other way out for a change. APGA assembled a crop of potential leaders who could make the desired change in Abia.

They are the likes of Sir Chikwe Udensi, Chief Etigwe Uwa (SAN), Prof. Gregory Ibe and Major-general Ijeoma (rtd). But the same impunity rocking PDP is also trending in the state chapter of APGA over parallel primaries.

The two primaries held by the party produced Prof. Gregory Ibe at one-end and Sir Chikwe Udensi at another primary. Now, rather than the peoples vote deciding who to fly the APGA flag, the court has now been brought in to decide. The question being asked is “in a democratic system, is it the people’s vote, party’s policies/directives or court that ought to decide who to rules them?”

Udensi, a claimant to APGA governorship ticket has approached a Federal High Court sitting in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, to determine the authentic governorship candidate of the party as a result of the two parallel governorship primaries held on Sunday May 29, 2022.

Others joined in the case were Professor Gregory Ibe, another claimant to the party’s governorship ticket; Austin Ehiemere, the chairman of the party in the state and Obinna Ichita, a chieftain of the party.

According to prosecution, the court presided by Justice Anyadike, granted a motion for substitute service moved by the counsel to plaintiff and adjourned for a report of service as well as motion for joinder.

“The defendants are running away; they don’t want to be served. But we have to make sure we serve them one way or the other. That is why our motion today was a substituted service and was granted by the court so we’re going to serve them to make sure they come to court and answer to the that they have done to bring party down”, said Udensi.

Speaking shortly after the court sitting Udensi, an Interpol consultant denied rumours that he was settled to abandon his governorship ambition, adding that he will pursue the matter to a logical conclusion.

“I have no business responding to evil thoughts of settlement, who did they settle? They settled themselves, they did not settle Udensi, I will never take any money from anybody.
“If I had accepted their conditions we wouldn’t have been where we are today. There were several conditions they were asking me to accept which I said no, I will never accept.

“I will make sure the case goes as it ought to go and I will become the governorship candidate of our party for the 2023 election”.

Latest issue facing APGA is the court case shaking the chairmanship position of APGA, instituted by one Nnanna Ukaegbu. All these are designed to cast shadows on the hopes of Abians on the APGA for a change in the state.
It is not different in the All Progressives Party, APC. The court is also being prayed to decide who becomes the standard-bearer. Again, two primaries held at two different locations produced Ikechi Emenike and Uche Ogah, former Minister of Steel Development as governorship aspirants for the party.

The location that produced Ikechi Emenike adopted the indirect primary, while that for Uche Ogah used the direct primary as claimed to have been directed by the party. Apart from that Ikechi Emenike is also battling to clear himself of the allegation that he had been on suspension from the state chapter of the APC.

Interested party faithful are keeping their fingers crossed as they await final decisions.
Hopes for Abians to settle for the envisaged change, amid these controversies, could lie on any of the other parties, like the Labour Party, Accord Party, African Democratic Congress, Young Peopes Party, for the desired change.
They are parading Bishops, other clerics and competent probables for the race. But, in all, Abians are yearning for a change of narrative; a change for people-oriented and pragmatic political party that could rescue the state from under-development, strikes etc and enthrone good governance that will guarantee proper utilization of the resources accruing to the state meaningfully.

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