By Charles S Uzoukwu
The successful conduct of the gubernatorial primary of the Abia State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), which produced a unanimous and popular candidate, has increased the personality rating of the state chairman, Dr Kingsley Ononogbu.
The former General Manager, Risk Management, Spring Bank Plc, was earlier in the year elected chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Abia State, in a seamless exercise.
His leadership has seen the party waxing stronger ahead of the 2023 General Election. His election was so free of rancor that.
Hon Babatunde Kolawole, a two-term Rep from Ondo State who headed the Special Congress Committee, described it as “fair, transparent and in the spirit of internal democracy,” which is rare in Nigeria’s politics of acrimony and me-first.
Against such backdrop of popular support and lucidity of contest, the thoroughbred banker has been on the saddle since the year, navigating the Abia APC ship on an even keel. The new helmsman was inaugurated in Abuja along with other state chairmen. While inaugurating members of the state executive committee and local government chairmen with a mandate to work out an effective strategy to evict the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the Government House, Umuahia, in 2023, he charged: “This is the time for work. We have to tell the people that we have genuine alternative and that all those good things we see in other states are possible in Abia State.”
Ononogbu, a seasoned banker and administrator, acknowledged the enormous responsibility of taking over power from a party that have been in the saddle for 23 years, and have not hidden its desire to continue despite the obvious non-performance and colossal failure of the successive PDP administrations since 1999.
Stressing the importance of hard work and commitment at all levels of party leadership to ensure the emergence of a competent and qualified APC governorship candidate, Ononogbu regretted that Abia State has been unlucky to have unprepared and incompetent governors who were not cut out for the huge responsibility of presiding over the affairs of state in a democratic setting.
The party chairman said that he was determined to change the ugly narrative in the forthcoming elections; even as he assured members that APC has a high quality team that would turn things around in the state. “With a development economist in the person of Dr Ikechi Emenike, and myself with solid background in finance, Abia State would be in good hands under APCadministration.” Eventually, Chief Emenikeemerged the choice governorship standard-bearer of the party in last week’s primary.
“But, we can only demonstrate what we are talking about if we the party is voted into power. Therefore, party members should take it upon themselves to preach the gospel of APC in every nook and cranny of Abia State.”
Frowning on perceived divisive and self-serving tendencies of some party chieftains, the chairman said: “Trying to cause disunity within the ranks of APC in Abia State is not a good mark of leadership. On the contrary, the current state APC executive has taken a cue from High Chief Ikechi Emenike’s admonition that leaders should be transparent and inclusive; leaders should be unifiers and not destroyers. All hands must be on the deck to build and nurture an APC that can free Abia State from bad leadership and avoidable under-development.”
Ononogbu – who paid tributes to the memory of his predecessor, Enyinnaya Harbour, describing him as a very honest and committed leader – told Abia APC faithful that they owe their deceased chairman a duty to win Abia and deliver the state from the 23-year stranglehold of the PDP, which has left the state prostrate in both human and physical development. This, he said, is his greatest challenge for which he counts on the cooperation of chieftains of the party, especially Chief Ikechi Emenike; Chief Whip of the Senate and a former governor of the state, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu; Rep NkeirukaOnyejeocha and Mr Friday Nwosu, among others.
Since last week, it has been kudos to chair for his inclusive leadership which contributed immensely to the successful conclusion of the APC primaries in Abia which threw up an acceptable candidate for the forthcoming governorship election. Again, the fact that a couple of aspirants disagreed with the exercise also confirms the fact that it was purely democratic and not an imposition.
An alumnus of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Ononogbu distinguished himself in various capacities in the banking sector before he voluntarily retired. Thereafter, he also held the position of Managing Director, Kingsley Royal Resources Ltd and faculty member of PharezHCD Ltd. Such a rich background that cut across diverse sectors of the economy has prepared him for the onerous task of managing the affairs of the main opposition party in the state, and the temperament and interests of politicians from diverse backgrounds.
Available information from impeccable party sources confirm that this wealth of hands-on experience has helped Ononogbu to transform the political landscape of the party, and effectively reconciled all the aggrieved members, including the Senate Chief Whip, the only minister from Abia, House of Representative members, state legislators and those that had defected from the PDP. Today, all are in agreement working assiduously for APC’svictory at the state and federal level.
Uzoukwu writes from Abuja.