Home Politics Abia 2023 and the Abaribe phenomenon

Abia 2023 and the Abaribe phenomenon

by News Echo
5 minutes read

 

By Pascal Onu

As 2021 was winding up, Senate Minority Leader and former deputy governor of Abia State, Senator Enyinnaya Harcourt Abaribe handed, what could be referred to a Christmas gift to Abians. Abaribe, who many quarters refer to as the ” master political strategist” declared his ambition to run for the gubernatorial race for Abia 2023.

This ambition has so far unsettled many camps, and equally, many nerves are now restless by that declaration of intentions. Understandably, the fears are expected because of the calibre of the personality that has declared his ambition to clinch governorship seat.

Borrowing from the biblical litotes that” Tarsus is no mean city”, Senator Abaribe is no mean personality as long as Nigerian politics is involved. In his home state, Abaribe commands what could be best described as a cult followership. The massive crowd that graced the reception by his kinsmen few days after his formal declaration at Ahiaba High School, Obingwa LGA, is a glaring testimony.

In that occasion, he was decorated with the chieftaincy title”Maduforo Nde Ngwa” which former Senate President, Adolphus Wabara, solicited should be amended to read” Maduforo Nde Igbo”.
Indeed, Wabara’s proposal was greeted with a rousing approval. This is because Senator Abaribe has paid his dues as far as Igbo politics is concerned. He has remained a strong and consistent voice in championing the Igbo cause and at any given time, highlighting the injustices meted on the Igbo race. A feat which many political analysts and observers believe has given him a wide and far edge in his present ambitions to govern the God’s Own State, Abia.

Also, a feat which a staunch political analyst and a PDP stalwart, who would not want his name in print, believes has offered the Senate Minority Leader a huge advantage over other contenders in the Abia 2023 gubernatorial race.

On the other hand, Abaribe’s involvement in the IPOB struggle by standing surety for Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the presently incarcerated leader of the group, is a very big puzzle for other contenders to resolve. And this, according to yet another analyst,” is a mountain to big for any other contender in the race to contend with”. It amounts to any contender swimming against the tide. Abaribe is indeed an iroko,” the analyst explained.

The card the opponents of Senator Abaribe’s gubernatorial ambition are wishing to or are trumping up is that of zoning. The argument, which seems to be fast losing grip, is that there is no how on earth an Obingwa man, where the present governor, Okezie Ikpeazu (PhD) would succeed the present governor. But like a still birth, which the argument could be likened to, many arguments and factors have popped up not only to frustrate and oppose the argument, but to puncture into shreds.

One of such argument is that the original political divides of Abia State is old Bende and old Aba divisions. The old Bende in the likes of Senators Orji Uzor Kalu and Theodore Orji did straight 16 years in favour of their divide, and that since power has shifted hands, the old Aba division should hold sway for a straight 16 years. The more this card by opponents of Senator Abaribe’s opponents raises its ugly head, the more solidarity the Ukwa-Ngwa, Abaribe’s kinsmen galvanise to counter this unholy argument.

A demonstration of this is the gathering of the major stakeholders of the Ukwa-Ngwa ethnic nationality organised at the instance of Hon. Solomon Adaelu, member representing Obingwa, Ugwunagbo, Osisioma federal constituency on the 2nd of January this year for brainstorming and articulating a way forward in the Ukwa-Ngwa struggle. There was almost a chorus response that the Ukwa-Ngwa ethnic nationality should retain power for the next eight years.

The gathering was peopled by major Ukwa- Ngwa activists who championed the struggle for power to be ceded to the ethnic nationality prior to the emergence of the present governor.

It will be recalled that from 2002 or there about,some Ukwa-Ngwa nation activists waged a struggle demanding a power shift to the enclave, which they said had not tasted the governorship position in the state right from the military era.

The champion of the struggle is Senator Abaribe, who even contested for the governorship position in the platform of All People’s Party in 2003, which was later rechristened All Nigerian Peoples Party(ANPP). Abaribe lost in the election, but the spirit of the Ukwa-Ngwa struggle was not lost.

As predictions and forecasts can never be pushed to the background in the affairs of human beigns, politics not in exception, questions have started agitated minds if this is the time nature wants to reward Abaribe for the struggle he initiated years back. On this, let us keep our fingers crossed as events unfolding in the subsequent months can only determine.

Another argument going for Abaribe is that if he emerged as the governor that he will set alot of things. It is highly suggested that he is the only character that has the capacity to turn around situation of things in the state presently. But like every other argument which must possess a flip side an counter argument, there are arguments that Abaribe would witness a strong opposition from some powers in state who depend on handouts from state treasury, which derogatorily is refered as” blood tonic” to survive.But the assumption is that Senator Abaribe has enormous capacity to contain this enormous challenge.

Argument in favour of Senator Abaribe’s candidacy is stretched to the point that the Igbo nation urgently requires another governor in the mould of Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, who has just emerged governor of Anambra State, in terms of intellectualism and clout, to strengthen its hold in the schemes of political affairs in the country. This they say, Abaribe fits in perfectly.

Since Abaribe declared his ambition to vie for the governorship position of Abia State in 2023, there is a seeming lull in activities of governorship ambition declarations.

The question in many lips now is” could it be that Abaribe is the proverbial magnificent masquerade that has taken the centre stage only for smaller masquerades to scamper for safety”. Let us watch and see!

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