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Abia 2015: Will charter of equity prevail?

FIVE months to the 2015 governorship election in Abia, the question of which senatorial zone should produce Governor Theodore Orji’s successor is generating intense debates across the state.

By Charles Kumolu

At the centre of these debates is the Abia Charter of Equity, ACE, an assumed power sharing arrangement reported to have been initiated by the founding fathers of the state.

The ACE, which was occasioned by the need to assuage the fear of domination by any section, provides that the governorship of the state be rotated among the three zones.
Accordingly, power is expected to be shared among two power blocs, which are the old Bende Zone and Aba Division.

Abia governor Theodore Orji may
Abia governor Theodore Orji

Of the two zones, the old Aba bloc is yet to produce the state governor since 1999.
On the strength of this, the popular expectation is that Orji’s successor will hail from old Aba zone, which is also known as the Ukwa/Ngwa bloc in line with the ACE.
The document, it was gathered, specified the sharing of political offices in a manner that none of the divisions at the time of creating the state would dominate the other.

The old blocs
Accordingly, the zones at the time ACE was adopted were Afikpo Division, Bende Division and Aba Division.
It is believed that the ACE made the creation of the state from the old Imo State possible, and had guided the emergence of two state chief executives so far.

That may have informed Governor Orji and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP’s) decision to zone the governorship seat in 2015 to Abia South Senatorial Zone, which is dominated by the  Ukwa/Ngwa people

According to Orji, the ACE remains sacrosanct and will be implemented in the interest of peace and equity. Orji said he would not like to take any decision that would plunge the state into political crisis, hence the decision to respect the charter.

Since the governor made this known, divergent reactions have been trailing the decision, particularly from those, who are opposed to the idea. The  promise also brought about a debate on which part of Ukwa/ Ngwa zone should produce the governor in 2015.

Instructively, the   Ukwa/Ngwa zone comprises of nine council areas of which Obingwa, Aba South, Aba North, Ugwunagor, Ukwa West and Ukwa East fall under Abia South senatorial zone while Osisioma Ngwa, Isiala Ngwa North and Isiala Ngwa South councils make up the Abia Central zone with the Umuahia/ Ikwuano bloc.

Complaint and opposition
The opposition and complaint are hinged on the argument that Ukwa-Ngwa people are found in three Local Government Areas in Abia Central.
The reason for the debate is that the Ngwa component of the Ukwa/Ngwa political bloc is distributed across two senatorial districts.

Five of the seven local governments that constitute Abia South zone are located in Ngwa land, namely, Aba North, Aba South, Obingwa, Osisioma and Ugwanagbo. The remaining two local governments, Ukwa East and Ukwa West, are constituted by Asa and Ndoki clans.

Following demands for clarity on the proper interpretation of power shift to Ukwa/Ngwa, analysts, opined that power sharing in the state remained between the old Bende bloc and Aba bloc.

Political heavy weights like Senator Nkechi Nwaogu, Acho Nwakanma, Chief A.C.B Agbazuere, Chris Akomas among others, are of Ukwa/Ngwa origin, but hail from the Central Senatorial zone.

As gathered, the larger concentration of the native Ngwa are believed to be found in Abia Central Senatorial District.
Despite the euphoria generated by the preference of an Ngwa indigene to become the next governor, there is uneasiness in the camp of those, whose argument is that zoning should not overwhelm competence.

To this group, the best man, who could be trusted for continuity should emerge from any part of state.

Capability to serve
While where the pendulum would swing to, is still left to be seen, analysts are of the opinion that if the disaffection arising from the governor’s support for the Ukwa/Ngwa is not addressed, the Ukwa/Ngwa people might lose the opportunity of producing the governor come 2015.

Amid the ensuing permutations, the entrance of the senator representing Abia Central District, Senator Nkechi Nwaogu, has altered the political calculation, as she comes in with vigour and great sense of accomplishment.

Nwaogu is believed to be in a good position of representing Ukwa/Ngwa people.
A two-time Senator and a former House of Representatives member (2003 – 2007), she is known for her wealth of experience in administration and resource management.

With this seemingly robust profile, the mood of the people outside and within the state, suggests that she stands a better position of representing Ukwa/Ngwa people.
Before now, her aspiration existed in the realm of speculation, but the two-time senator, recently put the doubts to rest.

Nwaogu, at the PDP secretariat in Umuahia, formally declared her interest to govern the state on the platform of the PDP.
The lawmaker, who holds two records of being the first woman from Abia to take a seat at the House of Representatives and the Senate, insisted that her gender would not be a disadvantage in her quest to succeed Orji.

“If my party will support me I will run for the post of governorship. It is my aspiration, my desire. I have the qualification and experience to pilot the affairs of Abia State if given the mandate to govern Abia,’’ she stated.


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