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Abia Guber Race: Matters Arising

By Chimezie Alozie, This Day (Lagos), 19 April 2002

Lagos—I have watched with keen interest the unfolding political drama in Abia state between the so called home group represented by Governor Orji Uzor Kalu and the Abuja group represented mainly by some prominent Abia state indigenes appointed to serve at the Federal level. My conclusion is that if the curtain of this drama is not drawn now, come May 2003 when the gubernatorial election must have been concluded, the people of Abia will be counting as one of the dividends of democracy, the spillage of the blood of innocent citizens of the state.

Before now, Abia State was politically peaceful, and if this political peace is to reign once again, the state needs to start on a clean political slate. All the actors in the present political drama, including Orji Kalu must give way to other fresh prominent personalities who are prepared to move the state forward. This, to my mind, is one major way out. So long as these individuals continue to nurse the ambition of taking over or remaining in power, come 2003, the political atmosphere in the state will remain charged. Let me remind them that Abia State is bigger than their selfish ambition.

But what makes this individuals believe that Abia State cannot exist except they remain in power or take over the leadership of the state is what I don't know. Most baffling is the rumoured ambition of the present Deputy Governor, Chief Enyinnaya Abaribe, to become the next Governor of the state come 2003. How can somebody who has consistently refused to subordinate himself to the authority of others expect to earn the respect of his subordinates assuming that by any chance he takes over a leadership position? Besides, I am one of those who believe that the greater onus of ensuring that the problem between him and Orji Kalu was laid to rest lies mainly on the Deputy Governor. Afterall, he was merely invited or chosen by Governor Orji Kalu to assist him build the administration. Moreso, when there are strong rumors that Chief Abaribe plans to use the No 1 position, if eventually elected to avenge the treatment purportedly meted on him by Orji Uzor. The vengeance mission will certainly be at the expense of good governance. Even when it is very clear that Governor Orji Kalu is not ready to mend fences with him, Chief Abaribe has refused to resign honourably because of his plans to use whatever paraphernalia of office that is left to achieve his ambition. Remaining as No 2 and also engaged in the scale of opposition he has mounted against his boss does not in any way depict honour and character. Some political watchers in Abia State strongly feel that Chief Abaribe's perceived vengeance mission may also be directed at certain sections of the State judging by some utterances credited to him in various quarters and some visible campaign materials that were circulated in some recent public fora, traceable to him.

The post Orji Uzor Kalu's Administration come 2003 must not in anyway remind us of today's acrimonies and bitterness, which have characterized the present administration in the State. I therefore humbly advise Chief Abaribe to moderate his ambition, as he can never be the messiah the Sate needs. Abians would definitely wish to put this ugly situation in which he has been a central figure behind them come 2003.

Another way of calming the politically frayed nerves in the state is for Gov. Uzor Kalu to bow out honourably after his first tenure. It is obvious that his administration has witnessed more controversies than any other administration since the creation of Abia State. Orji Uzor Kalu's style of administration has brought disunity among prominent heavyweights in the state. He has fallen out with almost every power that be in the state including those that were instrumental to his being the state chief Executive. He has fallen out of favour with the presidency because of his unguarded and immature political statements not befitting the status of Chief Executive of a state. The Abia state vigilante group aka Bakassi Boys which was the brainchild of Orji Uzor Kalu's administration has brought more sorrow to the people of Abia than protecting their lives and property. Many lives were reportedly lost due to the nefarious activities of the Bakassi boys.

One issue that has raised more dust is Governor Kalu's educational background. Neither the Governor nor his aides have been able to clear the doubts surrounding his educational background, and even a recent interview in This Day newspaper of January, 26 2002 granted by Chuka Odom, who is Orji Uzor Kalu's Deputy Chief of staff, could not clear the air. What is suprising is why this particular issue should attract so much hoodwinking when what is actually needed is a systematic mode of tripartite presentation, documentation and verification.

In his usual mien and spirit, Odom did neither of these but just talked glibly and diverted attention to INEC a~nd WAEC. That Orji Uzor Kalu does not possess the requisite qualification is in any way libelous nor malicious because in law, truth is a defense against libel and malice, or were it not so, Odom who parades himself as a legal luminary in the legal arena, would have made a stupendous fortune out of the case.

Trying to back up his claim with the fact that his Excellency scaled the INEC hurdle does not in any way make him possess qualifications he does not at all possess. After all, it was this same INEC that certified the ousted speaker of the House of Representatives who claimed to be a Toronto graduate.

The issue of educational qualification has assumed a dangerous dimension in this country. Men who are found within this circle should not be given leadership mantle at any level. In fact, this present dimension is multi- ferrous in pature and could assume any of the following forms:

-Passing through an educational institution without being passed through by the system

-Starting of a programme and being unable to finish that programme

-Idling away in school without going through or doing the course of study expected of a student

-Being in possession of Certificates (usually not authentic without having satisfied the basic requirements both in learning and character.

The dust about Orji Uzor Kalu's educational qualifications may have taken any of these forms, in which case, His Excellency should positively and substantially clarify these issues and put this raging storm to rest.

Chief Onyema Ugochukwu, Chairman, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, whom I have so much respect for is unfortunately one of the central figures in the political controversies ra',ging in Abia State today. I am one of those who view his rumoured gubernatorial ambition as the height of selfishness. Apart from his own gubernatorial ambition, Chief Ugochukwu is reported to have perfected an alternative plan to get his younger brother either elected as a senator to represent Abia Central Senatorial zone or be made a running mate to one of the aspirants (not the present Deputy Governor) from the Southern Senatorial zone of the state made up of predominantly Ukwa Ngwa people. Curiously, also is the rumoured ambition of another of his younger brother to run for the council chairmanship position of Umuahia North LGA (Chief Ugochukwu's LGA). It is perhaps for this selfish reasons that Chief Ugochukwu appears to be pointedly championing the zoning of the governorship position for 2003 to Abia south Senatorial zone thereby completely excluding Abia central senatorial zone which has three Ngwa LGA- Isiala Ngwa South, Isiala Ngwa North and osisioma. As an Ngwa man from Abia Central zone, I find this sinister move totally selfish and unacceptable. I therefore call on all Ngwa people in the Central zone to resist this selfish agenda as there is no reason why an Ngwa man or woman from any of these three LGA cannot produce the next governor of Abia State come 2003.Even though the State Chairman of PDP Chief Tony Ukasoanya has publicly declared that the Gubernatorial race for 2003 is open to Abia Central and South, some people are still at work to truncate this noble decision in the favour of only Abia South Senatorial zone. I pray that this plan does not succeed.