The Deputy Chief Whip of Federal House of Representatives, Hon Nkeiruka Onyejiocha recently became the cynosure of all eyes and topped the subject of all discussions in Abia State, following the interview she granted a Lagos-based newspaper.
In the interview, the female legislator among other things declared that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State has failed the people of his State with poor leadership and governance styles. She also reminded the Governor of his academic pedigree which according to the legislator, was being rubbished by the Governor’s alleged poor performance.
She lampooned the Governor over the poor State of infrastructure in parts of the state, adding that “majority of Abians are not happy with the way things are being done in the State.” Hon Onyejiocha sounded off by advising Ikpeazu to strive to deliver democracy dividends to Abians, regretting even young Ebonyi State under the leadership of Engr David Umahi with little resources had overtaken Abia State, despite the fact that Abia was blessed with richer resources. The assertion by the legislator shook the State like a hurricane with attendant reactions.
Did Onyejiocha speak the minds of Abians
The verdict came like a bomb which exploded by hot noon, it came at a period the State is witnessing a litany of protests by several labour unions. In the last three weeks now, workers in some State agencies and parastatals like Hospital Management Board, Abia Line Transport Company Ltd, Abia State University, Uturu, Tricycle operators association of Nigeria, Joint Health Workers Union have hit the streets of Umuahia and Uturu in protests, condemning the alleged terrible conditions of their members in the State.
And the Onyejiocha’s assessment of Governor Ikpeazu, by implication, somehow, conferred some weights on the demands of the dissatisfied workers in such parastatals and only amicable handling of the aggrieved workers’ demands and concerted attention to most of the issues she pointed out, especially poor infrastructure can put a lie to the House of Representatives member’s assertion, otherwise, she would favourably remain upscale on the side of people’s opinions.
But has the verdict any link with the 2023 guber race?
Onyejiocha answered this question in the said interview by delaying her final answer till 2022 or 2023 but it is on record that the Deputy Chief Whip of the Federal House is a four-time member, representing the Isukwuato/ Umunneochi federal constituency, where she was first elected in 2007 on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
She was later re-elected in 2011 and 2015 respectively on the platform of the same PDP. But in late 2018, Onyejiocha dumped PDP for All Progressive Congress(APC) and still defeated the candidate of her former party, Chief Jude Udeachara to return to the green chambers of the National Assembly.
Account for billions you have collected in National Assembly, ABSG replies Onyejiocha
Pained by her remarks, Abia State government in a response, described Hon Onyejiocha as failed representative of her people who has not given a good account of billions of naira she has allegedly collected in the national assembly.
The response by John Okiyi Kalu: “It is a known fact that while other federal lawmakers have attracted projects to their States and sponsored Bills to support their people, Onyejiocha cannot even account for the monies paid to her as constituency allowances over the past thirteen years that have reportedly run into billions of naira. She neither has any physical infrastructural projects she has either attracted or installed for her constituents.”
Okiyi continued, “Please invite Onyejiocha to visit Abia State to verify the 94 completed road projects across the State by the present government, 422 new class rooms have been completed. 4 new model schools, 4 new general hospitals, four million terena specie palm seedlings planted in the State. Abia poultry cluster, ultra-modern automated shoe factory in Aba, regular payment of salaries and pensions.”
The information Commissioner also accused Hon Onyejiocha of residing outside the God’s own State, which according to him, made her to develop a negative assessment of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s performance as a Governor.
Okiyi averred that no civil servant in Abia was owed salaries up till the month of September, challenging any worker with a contrary claim to come up with facts. He explained that workers in some State parastatals like Abia Line Transport Company who have not received salaries or entitlements should hold their managements responsible; as such parastatals don’t remit the monies they generate to the State government.
He added that many tertiary institutions in the State like Abia State University, Uturu, Abia State Polytechnic, Aba and others were regularly receiving subvention from the Ikpeazu-led government, despite the fact that they still generate their own revenues. Are there projects to Onyejiocha’s credit in her constituency?
Nothing to show, says PDP chieftain, Okey Igwe
According to the present member representing Umunneochi State constituency in Abia State Parliament, erosion menace and poor electrification have remained major challenge to the people of Isuochi, and Umunneochi in general “despite the repeated promises made by Abuja people to solve the erosion problem.” .Igwe, who is an elected Chairman of Umunneochi LGA hailed Governor Okezie Ikpeazu as a champion who had demonstrated total determination to the development of the entire Umunneochi, through appointment of their sons and daughters into key positions as well as rural electrification of some villages.
We are behind Onyejiocha—APC Chieftains
The Chairman and Secretary of All Progressive Congress (APC) Umunneochi LGA chapter and have defended Hon Nkeiruka Onyejiocha on her assessment of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s almost six years in power, declaring that Hon Onyejiocha is in order. In a statement signed by the Chairman Hon Innocent Okoroafor and his deputy Mr Obioha Onwuka and supported by Chief Paulinus Alajemba, another APC top shot described Onyejiocha as “A great daughter of Umunneochi who has put smiles in the faces of Isukwuato/Umunneochi constituents with her sterling representation.”
The statement continued, “Those who claim that Hon Onyejiocha has not attracted anything should visit parts of her constituency to see things for themselves. The projects attracted from Hon Onyejiocha are there for everyone to see. If she is not performing, we would not have re-elected her,” the statement stated.
We will Rescue Abians, PDP has failed—Nwankpa, Abia APC Chairman on 11th October, Abia State stated. APC Chief Donatus Nwankpa at Old Onitsha Development Hall, Kaduna Street, Umuahia, told a tumultuous crowd of APC supporters that “APC will rescue Abia from the deplorable condition PDP has rendered it since 1999.
“This State has nothing to show for all the resources and allocations arriving from Abuja on monthly basis. Be prepared, as we are going to take over from local government to Governor and then retain the Presidency. Abia should regain her glory from the hands of those who have set it back,” Nwankpa said.
However, the exchange of political fire between the heavyweights may benefit Abians, as the concerned leaders may strive to deliver quality projects to the populace, to avoid Election Day backlash as witnessed in Edo State recently.
At the popular Allwell Newspaper Distribution centre in Umuahia, where a crowd gathered on daily basis to discuss recent events in the country, it was discovered that Onyejiocha/Ikpeazu issue dominated the State, with many of the discussants hailing her for speaking truth to power, while some others like Mr Bernard Arunsi condemned her. They reminded her that “Onyejiocha was a comrade in the same PDP with Governor Okezie Ikpeazu up till 2018 when she joined the APC and therefore, should share in the blame or keep quiet.” “Why is she now coming to tell him that he has failed?”
But Ikpeazu has personally refused to reply the female legislator, preferring to speak through his Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu.
But Okezuo Abia, as Ikpeazu is popularly known, still has the time to turn the tide in his favour and prove his critics wrong if the Osisioma flyover, his signature project and poor infrastructure in the State receive adequate attention. It is however acknowledged that the Aba automated shoe factory has been activated while many artisans have also received support from the Ikpeazu-led government.
The biggest challenge to full industrialisation of the Enyimba city remains the poor state of roads in Aba, especially the Osisioma axis which when fixed, would lead to increase in number of investors and visitors to the city, thereby increasing multipliers effect and increasing the Internally Generated Revenue for Abia.