The creation of Abia state out of the old Imo state in 1991 was greeted with much excitement and euphoria. Abia was born and predicated on the idea that creating a new state called Abia would be a tool for rapid even socio-economic and infrastructural development across the nook and cranny of the area without any section or zone feeling marginalised, discriminated against or even neglected.
It was also aimed at bringing government closer to the people and give all component parts and people a due sense of belonging without any group left behind in the development architecture of the state.
The entity was anchored on the principle and philosophy of equity, justice and fairness as enunciated in the Abia Charter of Equity as envisioned by the founding fathers of the state who were drawn from the various
parts of the state.
The name, ‘ABIA’ itself is a.coinage derived from the first alphabets of the former divisions that were to become part and parcel of the yet to be created state, namely, ‘A’ for Old Afikpo Division, ‘B’ for the Old Bende Division, ‘I’ for the Old Isuikwuato Division, and the last ‘A’ for the Old Aba Division to complete the arrangement.
The belief and understanding.was that the chief executives of the state would emerge alphabetically as anticipated in the letters and spirit of the Abia Charter of Equity. Following the creation of Abia state in 1991, the first governor of the new state in the person of Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu came from the erstwhile Afikpo division as contemplated in the document. Though that administration was shortlived following a military coup d’etat that toppled the democratic government at that time, the fact remains that Ogbonnaya Onu had kick-started the process by taking the turn of the Old Afikpo division. As fate would have it too, Old Afikpo Division is now in the present day Ebonyi state.
When full democratic government was restored in Nigeria in 1999, the Old Bende Division produced the governor of the state in the person of Dr.Orji Uzor Kalu. He was at the helm of affairs as the chief executive of the state for eight years,1999 to 2007. Orji Uzor Kalu was succeeded by Chief Theodore Orji from Umuahia, also of Bende stock, 2007-2015.
Today, the incumbent governor, Dr.Okezie Victor Ikpeazu from the Old Aba Division is the governor. Hē is rightly christened ‘Nwa Aba’ in absolute reference to the Old Aba Division.Today the question that is agitating the minds of well-meaning Abians is, where is the place of Isuikwuato/Umunneochi axis in view of the other zones having successfully taking their turn on the basis of the alphabetical order of things?
Come the year 2023, Dr.Okezie Victor Ikpeazu, the incumbent governor would have completed his tenure of eight years.
The year 2023 is another national election year. Whether justice, equity and fairness to all will be brought to the fore without any individual, group or section attempting to outsmart or shortchange Isuikwuato/Umunneochi remains to be seen. It is therefore expedient and imperative that the political parties, especially the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA and the All Progressives Congress the major political parties while fielding their different candidates should give thought to this time tested agreement as enshrined in the Charter of Equity which is the pillar of equity and justice in the state.
Balancing the political power equation in Abia State on the basis of ’emenyere Nwogwugwu,emenyere Nwa Anosike'(( Live let’s live) philosophy becomes a truism that should not to be treated with levity. It is sine quo non in power equilibrium and stability of Abia state, the underlying principle behind its creation.
Equity, justice and fairness are ingredients of democratic ideals and tenets the world over. Its absence therefore creates the precondition for feeling of marginalisation, discrimination, exclusion, underdevelopment and sectionalism.
Such state of affairs obviously has the potential to create the scenario for lawlessness, anarchy, recklessness, and ultimately bad governance and poor performance.
The issue of fairness , growth and development would have been sacrificed on the altar of ‘dog eat dog and winner takes it all mentality if the principle of justice and equity are trampled upon in the sharing of political positions even at the highest levels.
As the clamour for the Nigeria president of Igbo extraction gathers momentum because that is the right thing to do, we need to also direct attention to the popular adage, ‘as above, so below’ , and that ‘charity begins at home’, but should not end there.
Isuikwuato and Umunneochi people deserve a fair deal in the Abia question. They have contributed immensely to the sustenance of socio-economic and infrastructural development of Abia state.
The landscape of the area is a gory sight in terms of provision of social amenities and infrastructure,to say the very least. The issue of neglect and marginalisation facing the people is an open secret that needs to be radically and sustainably addressed.
Governor Okezie’s giant strides in all facets of socio-economic and infrastructural develpoment across the entire gamut of the Old Aba Division amply highlights the truth that, ‘manu akara di uto, onye ratu ibeya aratu’ axiom. The philosophy and brand of development practice is a legacy bequeathed to him by his predecessors.
During the buildup to the governorship election of Okezie Victor Ikpeazu in 2015, the slogans, ‘Nwa Aba ga emezi Aba’ , and ’emenyere Nwogwugwu, emenyere Nwanosike’ were rife and dominated the political space at the time and even now.
In fact, the emergence of the first governor of Abia State from the Ukwa Ngwa at this time in the annal of the history of Abia state has proved that justice and equity will always prevail no matter how long it is delayed. And once achieved guarantees a sense of security, accomplishment and fulfilment.
Today, the quantum of development projects and programmes dotting the entire landscape of the Old Aba Division clearly pinpoints to the place of equity, justice and fairness in the distribution of democratic dividends and benefits.
Equity and justice liberates the people free from all forms of feelings of subjugation and second class citizenship.
To really factor Isuikwuato/Umunneochi into the highest political architecture of Abia state, it becomes incumbent on all and sundry, especially the key political parties in the state to support any agitation, intention, ambition, aspiration, action, strategy, and undertaking that seek to zone the next governorship slot of Abia state to Isuikwuato Division for power to be truly balanced in Abia state.
This is the only recipe that will guarantee even and rapid socio-economic and Infrastructural development of Abia state and ultimately leading to.equitable distribution of power and resources.
The year 2023 is fast approaching and offers immense opportunity to squarely address the issue.
The Old Isuikwuato Division parades a galaxy of well-experienced technocrats, academicians, entrepreneurs, businessmen and women, seasoned administrators, politicians, entrepreneurs and professionals,etc who have national and global acclaim with the capacity and competence to transform Abia state to a glorious and eminent heights among the comity of states in Nigeria.
It is a new dawn in Abia State and the need to catapult Abia State to a new height of growth and development cannot be over emphasized.
Abia State is endowed with abundance of human, material and natural resources which are yet to be fully tapped and translated into economic growth and development for the overall good of the people of Abia State.
There is no gain saying the fact that Abia State is populated by highly creative, resourceful, visionary, patriotic, resilient, innovative and entrepreneurial men and women not found any where in Nigeria. Effective and efficient management of these wonderful human capital is a rarity that should always be leveraged upon.
Specifically, one outstanding and remarkable achiever and leader who has the capability, capacity and competence to become the next governor of Abia state is Prof.Greg Ibeh, 57 who is good to go for the exalted office come 2023.
The Uturu-born entrepreneur, businessman, academician, philanthropist and who is also the founder and chancellor of Gregory University, Uturu, Abia state, a foremost private university is excellence in Abia State has all it takes to offer humble and impacful service to the people of Abia state.
As a world -class iconic development consultant, he will bring his wealth of experience in the national and international development systems to bear on the overall development of Abia state by leveraging his extensive contacts and connections both in the business world and development to his state.
His relationship with multilateral, bilateral and international development organisations will be translated into practical actions and activities to jumpstart the development process of Abia state to a new height.
His familiarity with procedures and processes available in the national and international development community is a major ingredient that marks the governorship aspirant above his peers in their aspiration to govern Abia state.
Given the opportunity to serve as governor of Abia state, innovative and entrepreneurial approaches and strategies will be deployed to transform the entire Abia state.
In all honesty, God has endowed Prof.Greg Ibeh, Enyi Abia with resilience, resourcefulness, creativity, humanity and passion for development.
Enyi Abia is a man of destiny whose time has come to salvage the people from grinding poverty, excruciating unemployment, inequality, disempowerment, and infrastructure deficit. He is a man of selfless service whose zeal to serve others is unquestionable.
It is on record that the philanthropist par excellence as a change agent is the highest employer of labour in Abia State aside from the state government.Yet he remains humble and cool-headed in line with his christian principle of humility and service to the people without making much fuss about it.
Currently many students at all educational levels, local and overseas are on his scholarship programmes.
At the peak of the ravaging Covid-19 pandemic that threatened and is still threatening humanity globally, the governorship hopeful lavishly provided palliatives of food, cash and other needful items to help cushion the effect, especially at the peak of the lockdown occasioned by the ravaging disease.
This gesture was also extended to even residents of Abia who are indigenes of Abia state.
The pan Igbo stance of Prof.Greg Ibeh is legendary. He has consistently and constantly hosted and sponsored the annual Igbo Rennainsance Project which is domiciled in the Gregory University of Excellence,Uturu.The Igbo Rennainsance Project is an annual summit that brings together all the eminent Igbo sons and daughters all over the world.
As a pragmatic leader and advocate of equity and justice, Prof. Greg Ibeh will carry all component parts of Abia state along in realising the vision and dreams of the founding fathers of Abia state who midwifed and envisioned the state to be the fastest growing economy in the country on the basis of participatory, bottom up approach to sustainable development and democracy.
The time to ponder and consider is now!
Arkin Rock Mba Ahukanna wrote from Aba.
7th January, 2021