The quest by the Abia North senatorial zone to produce the next Governor of Abia State may be ruined by their fielding of 10 governorship candidates.
The zone, which is insisting on producing the next Abia chief executive by 2023, is by the present scenario, grappling with the crises of which among the 10 candidates, to be the right choice. It is on record that the zone took the first in 1999 through Orji Uzor Kalu who ruled for 8 years after which he helped his political God son, Chief Theodore Orji to win in 2007. Theodore Orji who completed his second term in 2015, ensured that Ngwa man, Okezie Ikpeazu from Abia South succeeded him, for rotation of power to every zone of the State.
But the zoning of guber ticket to Abia Central and Abia North by the PDP before May 2022 primaries drew the ire of Abia North people who felt cheated by the arrangements. Eventual victory of Prof Uche Ikonne at the PDP guber primaries meant that Abia North should board a new boat, if it must enter the Government House. To do achieve this, a common front needed to be forged. But unlike Abia North, the 8 remaining guber candidates come from Abia Central and Abia South respectively.
For instance, Abia North parades Prof Greg Ibe (APGA), Dr Alex Otti (Labour Party), Ukpai Iro (NNPP), Dr Mrs Ngozika Gladys Johnson-Ogbuneke (SDP), Barr Lancaster Okoro (PRP), Hon Mascot Uzor Kalu (APP), Chibuike Jonans (ADP), Bishop Sunday Onuoha (ADC). Youth Party (YP) also parades a candidate from Abia North. In the case of Dr Alex Otti, he is popularly regarded as an Abia North with his roots traced to Arochukwu. With these line up of candidates, the chances of Abia North producing the next Governor is threatened unless a last-minute concensus arrangements takes place.
A close source in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) told News Echo this week that his party was initially afraid that it would lose the 2023 game to a candidate of Abia North extraction by a landslide. However, with the fielding of many top candidates from Abia North by political parties, the PDP strongman informed this paper that “We will leverage on the multiplicity of candidates from the Abia North zone to retain the State.”
He reasoned that unlike the PDP which has only Engr Enyinnaya Nwafor of Young Progressive Party as the major guber candidate from Ngwa land to contend with, votes coming from Abia North would, according to him, be split between the 10 candidates of Abia North origin.
The PDP man also identified the choice of Ohafia man as Dr Alex Otti’s running mate as another advantage that will work in favour of PDP.
Supporting the claims of the PDP top shot, a group, Abia North Political Project has warned that the quest for Governor of Abia North extraction may be a day dream unless the people of the zone settled for one man. The leader of Abia North Political Project, Dr Uduma Nnate whose group adopted the candidate of ADC, Bishop Sunday Onuoha said his group was out to ensure that power does not elude the zone.
He wondered why 10 candidates would come out from a zone that is crying of political marginalisation. But Nnate’s argument has been quashed by Mr Sleek Ogwo, the media Adviser to Prof Greg Ibe of APGA. According to Ogwo, the people of Abia North would choose their rightful ruler based on the pedigrees of such candidate, and not by consensus arrangements. Ogwo made it clear that Prof Ibe is ahead of other candidates based on what he has put in place. In APC, the candidate is High Chief Ikechi Emenike who is from Ohuhu, Umuahia North, Abia Central.
The State Party Chairman, Dr Kingsley Ononogbu who has continuously described Emenike as the best and strongest candidate in the race, also vowed that his party would also leverage on the crises other parties to win the poll. Presently, Emenike is the strongest candidate from Abia Central zone while his running mate comes from Ukwa, Abia South zone.
Undeterred by plethora of challengers from their areas, Alex Otti, Greg Ibe and Sunday Onuoha have maintained their State-wide campaigns with full confidence of becoming the next Abia Governor. In the minds of voters from Abia North, the crises of arriving at one choice among the 10 candidates from their zone is still boiling in their minds with many PVC holding indigenes confessing that it is hard choosing from the crowd of contestants.