Abia State Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has been endorsed for a second term by nine of the 17 local government chapters of the Peopl3s Democratic Party (PDP). EMMANUEL OLADESU examines the hurdles he must cross to win next year’s poll.
Three years ago, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, former university don and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain, was endorsed for governor of Abia State by the people of Ukwa/Ngwa.
Last week, the zone endorsed the governor for a second term. Was the endorsement based on ethnic affiliation? Prominent leaders ot the zone said the state deserved a government of continuity, adding that Ikpeazu has lived up to expectation.
However, some leaders of the opposition parties have disagreed with the endorsement. In their view, the governor could have done better.
Ukwa/Ngwa spread across nine of 17 local governments in Abia. The councils are Aba North, Aba South, Isialangwa North, Isialangwa South, Osisioma, Obingwa, Ugwunagbo, Ukwa West and Ukwa East.
The endorsement ceremony in Okpuala Ngwa, the ancestral headquarters of Ngwa, was reminiscent of the 2014 endorsement when former Senate President Adolph Wabara and Elder Emma Adaelu led what they described as a “one million”man match to the Government House, Umuahia, and presented Ikpeazu to former Governor Theodore Orji as the sole candidate, despite the fact that the All Progressive Congress (APC), Chief Anyim Nyerere, hails from Ngwa.
Wabara, who moved the motion for Ikpeazu’s endorsement, said: “Our son and our brother, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, is a silent achiever and performer. He has performed creditably and that confers on him the right to lead once more. Our people today speak with one voice to make a proclamation in support of the governor, asking him to contest again in 2019.”
The motion was seconded by Chief Chukwu Wachukwu, former Director-General of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE). He said: “Abia North was governor for eight years with Orji Uzo Kalu; Abia Central governed for eight years with Senator Theodore Orji. Abia South is completing four years with Governor Ikpeazu. Therefore, as a people, we unanimously, through a voice vote, declare our support for the re-election of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu in 2019, because he has done well and also because he must complete the eight year tenure of Abia South people.”
Adaelu explained that the governor has the constitutional right to seek re-election. He added: “We have seen governors in Abia State and I will boldly state that there has not been any like Ikpeazu.”
Former governorship candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Reagan Ufomba, said Ikpeazu has spread the dividends of democracy to the three senatorial districts.
“In the spirit of equity, inclusiveness, fairness and justice, re-electing Ikpeazu in 2019 is task for all Abians, from Ukwa through Umuahia to Arochukwu, because he has done well, and there is no alternative than to allow him to continue with his good work till 2023.”
However, Ufomba urged the governor to sustain the tempo of achievements.”We also call on our Old Bende brothers to demonstrate love and oneness, as we have always done to them in the past, by ensuring that the Ukwa-Ngwa people enjoy two terms as exercised by other zones in the state.” he added.
The monarchs, led by Eze Bernard Enweremadu of Ngwa Ukwu, said Ikpezu had their support. He said: “If it is not just, if it is not fair. It is equitable for an Ngwa man to govern Abia eight years, as others did. As it was in 2015, so shall it be in 2019, ” Eze Enweremadu added.
An excited Ikpeazu described the endorsement as a show of love and demonstration of the unflinching support of Ukwa/Ngwa people for him.
He urged the people get their Permanent Voters Cards, as a sign of seriousness, if they want him to re-contest in 2019.
The governor said the endorsement underscored the resolve and unity of the nine local governments.
Ikpeazu said: “ You shouldn’t be here asking me to contest again in 2019, if you don’t have your voters card.”
The governor assured the people that he will continue to fulfil his campaign promises, based on his five-point agenda.
Ikpeazu’s media aide, Enyinnaya Appolos, said the opposition is frustrated and disappointed by the governor’s achievements. Reacting to the allegation that most of the projects executed by Ikpeazu are either undertaken by the Niger Delta Development Commission, or the Federal Government, Appolos chided the critics for falsehood. He listed the 38 road projects completed by the governor, which he said, are verifiable. and called on Media Practitioners in the country to visit and verify all of them.
Appolos told reporters in Umuahia, the state capital, that Ikpeazu will not derail, adding that the quality of performance was in appreciation of the mandate of 2015.
The Chief Press Secretary said: “Governor Ikpeazu promised a new Abia with world class infrastructure, improved environment for business and Small and Medium Enterprises.
“Two years down the line, there comes a need to do an assessment of what has been done.That was the reason for the tour embarked upon by the governor, media practitioners, members of the PDP National Working Committee and stakeholders in the state recently.”
Apollus recalled that while disgrunted opposition leaders planned to distract the governor through litigations, he has decided to remain focussed.
He said the road project in Eketa community in Isiala, Ngwa South Local Government Area, was neither embarked upon by the NDDC nor attracted by Dr. Alex Otti of the All Progressives Grand Alliance. He said it is part of the 10 kilometre road per local government promised by the governor.
On whether or not the governor should re-contest for the 2019 elections, Apollos said: “Constitutionally, the governor has the right to seek re-election in 2019. Abians too want him to contest. Various groups and even individuals are saying you have done well; we want you to contest in 2019. But, he has not said so”.
“As Enyinnaya Appolos from Isiko and Abia, having seen what Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has done, I will want him to contest in 2019. Knowing where Abia used to be before 2015 and what Abia is at the moment, I can only imagine what Abia will look like by 2023.”