Abia State has been thrown into a political puzzle. And political gladiators have been looking for ways to solve such since the Abia State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) last August announced that the next governor of the state should come from the Abia South Senatorial District.
In the calculation of the party, there is a belief that if power goes to the Abia South, there would be ‘equity and justice’ in the scheme of power sharing formula in the state. The party also urged the people from the area to help by not clustering the issue with multifaceted arguments and numerous numbers of candidates.
Since that revelation was made, some groups like the Ukwa/Ngwa Professionals and Ukwa La Ngwa Peoples Forum have respectively visited the governor and acclaimed him for what they said was the improvement in taking the decision that power has to shift to the area. Like the governor, the professionals believed that this is the only way to ensure that all the groupings in the state shared in the banquet of fairness and justice and get-rid-of what they perceived was ethnic marginalization against the Ukwa/Ngwa people.
But while some concerned Ukwa/Ngwa people have been singing hosanna in the highest since the governor made that declaration, some of them were, perhaps, not happy that power should shift to their area for reasons only known to them, hence bickering. The governor even confirmed this in a statement.
He said: “I remember, when I said this, the first attack I had was from an Ukwa/Ngwa person, who said let the best person emerge, making me to look stupid, but I know that I am not stupid. If there is fairness and equity, there will be no rancour. But if there is no equity and fairness, anarchy may set in. So, what I said and we are pursuing will bring peace to Abia. I know that some people will be fighting to thwart this, but God will fight for us. I believe that it is the right and proper thing to do.”
In a matter like this, there is bound to be pockets of opposition, no doubt. Some would be in favour and others in disfavour of the proposal. For instance, a personality like Chief Alex Otti, the Group Managing Director of Diamond Bank Plc, reportedly suggested that at all the levels of government it is not democracy if people from other zones are not given the go-ahead to contest in an election, because it is believed to have been zoned.
Against that backdrop, the governor referred to what he called “Abia Charter of Equity”, adding, “I prayed God to guide me and I decided that for fairness and equity, it will be good for an Ukwa/Ngwa person to be the next governor. You did not lobby me; I did not discuss with any person, only God. This is what I feel God said I should say and do. I think that it is the fairest thing to do. When I did it I discovered that it is the in-thing. If you go to Enugu, Ebonyi, Cross River, and Akwa Ibom states, it is the same. Abia State has come of age; it is now age of reasoning…”
But since the leadership of Abia State PDP made the pronouncement to shift power to Abia South, a few elements of the opposition are saying that the power sharing formula should not be a PDP affair. Notwithstanding, this stance by the PDP has made the state a beehive of political activities with politicians becoming busy than ever with different calculations and pulsations towards the march to the gubernatorial election in the state in 2015. It is the position of many that since the governor has been saying that he believes in “fair play, justice and equity” which he said are the reasons he is ceding power to the Ukwa/Ngwa that he should walk his words of “fair play, justice and equity,” with action.
Twenty years since the state was created may not be a long time, if it is the yardstick of ceding power to the Ukwa/Ngwa area, because the people from the zone are bent on saying that since then they have not tested power. If Ndi-Abia would say that the governor was right with the idea that power has to shift to the Ukwa/Ngwa, so be it.
The governor had said: “You all know very well that I am a product of power rotation or power shift and it is against that background that I still insist that the person that will succeed me will come from Ukwa Ngwa. It is, also, a fact that Abia State is made up of three senatorial zones namely; Abia North, Abia Central and Abia South. As far as the governorship seat is concerned, the North has ruled for eight years, I am from the Central and would soon be completing my tenure; therefore, for the sake of equity, fairness and justice, it will be good for power to shift to Abia South in 2015 in the state.”
For the growth of Abia State albeit, let all who have lent their voices in support or against the zoning formula, not be seen as opponents or supporters of the agenda, but that all work for the good and growth of Abia State.
Madubuko Hart writes from Lagos.