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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Abia Power Rotation And The Plight Of The People Of The South – By Eddie Onuzuruike



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          According to Charles Caleb Colton, ‘Law and equity are two things God hath joined but which man hath put asunder.’
Viewed from all prisms of life, the absence of liberty and freedom dehumanize man, especially the enslaved or the protagonist. Slavery and all forms of discriminatory treatment of fellow beings are manmade doings. Paradoxically, man craves for freedom, but history has seen man enjoying freedom for himself and at the same time, depriving others. The emancipation of slaves and the subsequent racial discrimination which caused upheavals that led to the civil rights activism and the attendant restraining acts of parliament are universal freedom wars fought by others for mankind.
Incidentally and like other facts of history, men like us with blood flowing in their veins paid dearly with their lives, making grievous personal sacrifices of chilling experiences. Sieved from indelible facts, the liberty of today was watered by the blood of ancestors of foreign origin, both at home and the diaspora.
To reveal the degree of injustice, slavery survived and lasted because Africans aided the inhuman deal against their kind, obviously because of the pecuniary gains.
Could you believe that slavery officially ended in Europe and America in 1888 while it dragged on till the 20th century in Africa and save for the international coalition against this inhuman trade, especially the use of coercive instruments, restraint from the seeming lucrative practice would have failed?
Abraham Lincoln, while president of America waged war against his compatriots, coming out with one of the greatest documents in January 1, 1861, famously known as Emancipation Proclamation.
 Some other notable fellows like the British statesman and abolitionist, William Wilberforce was the chief spokesperson in the House of Commons for an antislavery movement during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. After the British Parliament outlawed the slave trade in 1807, Wilberforce did not stop, but worked for the emancipation.
Another William, Lloyd Garrison, an American, was the leading abolitionist who established an official newspaper called the Liberator. John Brown was another whose name is synonymous with antislavery. This radical abolitionist, believed in the use of force and his onslaught took America by storm. It was not only the men, Lydia Maria Child, an American author and abolitionist wrote one of the first books against slavery, published in 1883. A war of wits and arms went on in the Atlantic Ocean, the center place and theatre of slavery.
          Just like the slave trade and its effects on the protagonists above, the Abia founding fathers had good reasons to embark on the movement for the creation of Abia from the old Imo state. It was not just for the fun of it. Certainly there were needs to exorcise the debilitating fear of domination, injustice, deprivation and displacement, most of the time based on ethnicity.
          Satisfied that they had a good cause, they assured their brothers, that there was no need pretending or masquerading; rather, they went to the rooftops and made a proclamation that today ranks in quality and stance to the Magna Carta and the French declaration of independence. This was an Eureka shout of sorts!
          For emphases, the push for the creation of Abia State came from a provocative need. It was the discovery that the founding fathers made that their initial fears were still haunting them in their present state in Imo state then. Their new push was primarily to forestall those ugly experiences of the past and make it real. Barring all sentiments, they sat down and crafted a guideline which captured what they had in mind and a foolproof document to guarantee the freedom, progress, free opportunities to all as to lead and be followed.
As it was stated in page 131 of the book, ‘this agreement of good faith or declaration of principles shall be known as The charter of Equity and shall be binding on all persons of Abia State who may hold public offices especially elective and appointive offices….’ They were equally specific on the rotation principle. Properly stated on Page 135 as such: ‘the principle of rotation shall apply in addition to the principle of strict equality in the distribution of key political posts. Consequently, the following combination of public offices shall not be held at one and the same time by persons of the same senatorial zones/district.
Governor and deputy/ Governor and speaker of the House of assembly/ Governor and Secretary to the Government/ Chairman civil service Commission and Head of Service Etc.’
These and other established factors were encapsulated in the book called the Abia Charter of Equity. It is a big lesson here that conscious efforts were made to put these established facts down some years after the deed, because, if Prof Nwagbara, of Amachara Umuahia South did not make conscious efforts to capture history, the people of the South may not have had any supportive document to crave for this topmost position.
          In answer to their yearnings, Abia State was created but before long, Ebonyi State which excised Afikpo, Ohaozara and Edda areas, now Ebonyi South, toppled the hitherto senatorial balance, causing a section which belonged to the Old Bende group to now make up the Central Senatorial Zone with three Local Government Areas from the Ukwa na Ngwa group. To this end, Abia is constituted with three Senatorial Zones, and presently, two out of these three have tasted the Governance of the State.
          As a matter of fact, the Ukwa na Ngwa have almost fallen into a negative psychological mould as people who cannot govern themselves let alone others. Some Ukwa na Ngwa sobriquet themselves as the Land of Deputies judging from Imo State where their highest slot was the Deputy Governor position, ranging from Chief Uzoigwe to Amalaha. Subsequent cases supportive of this scenario in Abia State where Nwafor was deputy to Ogbonnaya Onu. Abaribe, Nwakanma spared with Orji Uzo Kalu. Akomas, Nwakanma and Emeka Ananaba were in similar tango with Chief T.A. Orji, the legacy and equity personality.
From the foregoing, one wouldn’t blame the people if they accepted the sobriquet as the land of deputies. It sounds like a jinx and this jinx we have to break as injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.
This cannot be more urgent than now! The Ukwa/Ngwa having realized the situation are up in arms complaining, pleading and urging anybody who will listen to come to their rescue.
In 2011 when Sir T.A. Orji was campaigning for the second tenure, he was grandiosely received in Aba Township Stadium where their spokesman, Elder Emma Adelu warned all Ngwa aspirants to desist from the race. Even though the likes of Akomas, Ikonne and Regan Ufomba tried to their detriment, the negligible votes they got were clear indications that the host of Ukwa/Ngwa people were not behind the renegades.
          Recently, they have made many representations to the Abia helmsman, Chief T.A. Orji, including the most recent by the Ukwa/Ngwa professionals and Ngwa patriots. In each of these visits, it was glaringly stated. The position of the Governor has never been clearer than before and his feelings known without equivocation.
          He stated that it is the best thing to do and the wisest thing for there to be power rotation and shift. As he argued, power shift towards the Senatorial Zone has been the adopted model of other states like Enugu, Ebonyi, Anambra, Cross River and Akwa Ibom, so why not Abia?
It is a form of discrimination for two third of the senatorial zones to have governed and deny the south this same position. It could be recalled that in 2011 in faraway United States of America, in the bastion of the Abia South Twentieth Annual Convention, in Sept 2011, his Excellency Chief T A Orji went into his regular refrain of the sanctity of Abia South propriety for governance.
In his own words, ‘the implication of Abia Charter of Equity is that come 2015 after the expiration of my tenure in office, the mantle of leadership and governorship will go to an individual of Ukwa/Ngwa extraction.’
Without much fury, it is the height of mental slavery to deny the south this position.
It is hugely an example of injustice in the eyes of God and man to deny our siblings of the south this touch of the Abia crown.
As it is said, what is good for the goose may not be too bad for the gander! Quoting George Washington, one of the American greats, ‘a right delayed is a right denied’ and succinctly put by John Fitzgerald Kennedy, one of the most vibrant rulers of America, ‘Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.’ Chief T A Orji has said this too many times and so be it!
Eddie Onuzuruike

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