By Mark Mbah Jnr
HEAVY crisis that may lead to the collapse of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in Abia State is building up over claim that Governor Okezie lkpeazu has anointed a 66-year-old former Vice Chancellor of Abia State University, Prof. Uche Ikonne, as his successor come 2023.
Reliable information had it that Ikpeazu and some of his kinsmen from Ngwa land and part of Ukwa extraction met last Sunday night and, after their meeting, decided to go and convince the retired academia to come and step into his shoes as his successor next year.
Ikonne hails from Isialangwa North Local Government Area of the Central Senatorial Zone of the state. He is a former Rector of the Abia State Polytechnic Aba as well as the immediate past Vice Chancellor of Abia State University.
Although there has not been any official statement from the governor, who is said to out of the country on official engagement, or the state PDP Chairman, Rt. Hon. Asiforo Okere, to confirm the development, impeccable sources affirmed the published report showing that lkonne has already picked his governorship nomination and expression forms from the National Headquarters of the party in Abuja.
Prior to this time, there has been heated arguments among political leaders of the three senatorial zones of Abis about which zone to start after the governorship seat must have gone round after the expiration of the incumbent who is from Obingwa in Abia South.
Ikpeazu’s immediate successor, Chief Theodore Orji, has maintained that the governorship seat restarts from Abia North while some other politicians insist it must rotate between the two blocs of Old Aba and Old Bende that make up the state.
The ruling PDP in Abia had, last week, issued a statement that the governorship seat has been zoned to Abia Central and Abia North. This sounded ambiguous and alien as many politicians described the unspecific party’s announcement as unusual in the history of the PDP zoning formula.
Some lambasted Ikpeazu and his co- travellers in their choice of a man who has not in any way indicated interest in the gubernatorial race.
Many are of the opinion that should Ikpeazu decide to zero his choice to Abia Central, there are more vibrant and tested younger aspirants within the zone with proven integrity and genuine accomplishments. Many politicians of pedigree and repute are openly rooting for younger aspirants like Chief Elvis Ncheta Omerekpe and Enyinnaya Nwafor among others who have verifiable proofs on ground speaking for them for years now across the state and have, for long, already developed positive blueprints on how to develop Abia.
For Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe representing Abia South in the Senate and one of the governorship aspirants who has already picked his forms, “the whole arrangements are efforts in futility to foist an unknown individual on the people”.
Speaking on a popular radio program, last week, Abaribe queried where decisions of zoning and choice of candidate were taken in the state without a high ranking member of the party like him present.
He argued that as a high ranking member of the party who has remained steadfast with the party since formation and today the Senate Minority Leader who has participated in all the party’s decisions in the state, recent developments are absurd and the entire arrangements dead on arrival and can never fly.
Abaribe said he was not desperate for the position but has only presented himself to serve because he has confidence to change the narratives and improve the lives and infrastructural development of the people and the state and want the right thing to be done by allowing PDP members choose their candidates.
He stated it categorically that it would be impossible for people like him to be in the party and allow anymore wrong foundations laid in the party.
For former Senate President Adolphus Wabara, his views are that if governorship must remain in the Old Aba bloc, it must be an Ukwaman because Ukwa and Ngwa make up the old Aba bloc, otherwise the governorship seat should move to Abia North.
His opinion is that since an Ngwa man in the person of lkpeazu has taken a slot from the old Aba bloc, should the seat be retained in the bloc, it must be Ukwa person because Ngwa and Ukwa made up the old Aba bloc.
But political analysts are of the opinion that bloc or senatorial zone is insignificant in this dispensation, arguing for the capacity and calibre of a governor whose impact when elected will be phenomenal in tackling the multifaceted yearning needs of Abia people.
They posited that the idea of selecting or anointing a candidate has been retrogressive in the political development of the state and would prefer a candidate who can be independent without being a stooge.
Onyeso Okeke, a stalwart of the PDP, while addressing party loyalists at a function in Aba, called on delegates of the party to resist any attempt to foist a candidate on them.
He said,” l have been a strong PDP member since 1999; our state, Abia, has suffered backwardness via these anointed candidates.
“How can you imagine someone who is not prepared for an examination and suddenly you draft him into the classroom to sit for an exam.
“The person will certainly perform abysmally and you won’t blame him because you drafted him in.
“For me the governor should play a role in determining his successor but it must be a collective decision with other principal and critical stakeholders.
“What happened this week at Isialangwa North where a former deputy governor and an in-law of the governor, Chief Acho Nwakanma, with few of his Obingwa brothers and some handpicked individuals from Ukwa West area to call on Professor lkonne to succeed the incumbent is unacceptable and can’t fly. “They want to destroy the party and make it lose the 2023 election.
“Can you imagine such trash, where are the party leaders, where are the Ochendos, the Wabaras, Onyema Ugochukwu and other leaders across the state?.
“The governor should please drop this because the heat will be too much for him to bear and it would be very shameful and unfortunate if he fails to coordinate peacefully and effectively the entire leaders of the state to produce his successor.
“All those pushing Professor lkonne on him will destroy him politically.
“He should remember that it is his name that’s at stake not those political interlopers and harbingers. With lkonne, the party is doomed and we can’t allow that, never”.
Another lawyer from Isialangwa, Ubah Nkem Ajomiwe, couldn’t hide his feeling as he bitterly dismissed lkonne’s ambition.
He said, ‘Why should someone even mention the name of lkonne for such a plum job?
“Have you not heard his story as Rector in Abia State Polytechnic, Aba or are you not aware of how he left Abia State University?
“Have you not heard of backlogs of unpaid salaries owed these two institutions till now?
“Was it not during his tenure that these two tertiary institutions were in quagmire?
“l have heard the governor talking about Umunneator, that’s Isialangwa North, South and Osisioma all in Abia Central which is one of the zones favoured to produce the governor by the party.
“If he pitches his tent there, then he should look for credible, acceptable aspirant with capacity, vision and goal and not a tired retired academic scholar.
“We have vibrant, dynamic and competent young men in persons like Chief Elvis Ncheta Omerekpe and Enyinnaya Nwafor who have demonstrated all round capacity and have touched lives and should be given the opportunity to go and salvage our people, not De Uche Eleazer lkonne.
“I was in the final year at ABSU when he became the Vice Chancellor and l know how impoverished he left the institution.
“The other day, l saw his pictures on the social media with PDP nomination form and the calibre of people around him.
“Another Abia governor to toss around, God forbid.
“Did you not see the day Enyinnaya Nwafor went to the party office at Umuahia to declare his interest”.
“Did you not see that Umuahia was shut down last Wednesday for Omerekpe? “Can you imagine the unprecedented crowd from the entire state that accompanied Omerekpe to Umuahia? “Did you not see Ginger Onwusibe and other credible leaders that accompanied him with the mammoth crowd?
“I have not met Omerekpe physically but my brother but go to our area and entire Abia and see that his works speak for him.
“I watched his documentary on AIT recently and marveled at what the young man has done for the people”.
He warned that the consequences of wrong choice will be an end of the PDP reign in Abia.
“Let there be open field for the aspirants to test their popularity and acceptability”, he added.