A common trapping of a heterogeneous society is the propensity and drive towards conflict, rancor and bitterness. Sometimes, this inclination could lead to brutish and nasty outcomes, and the reversion to the Hobbesian nightmare. The founding fathers of Abia State, in their amazing and uncommon wisdom to promote peaceful coexistence among the forming units of Abia State, embarked on an awesome political engineering to create a template to uphold fairness, equality, and eschew domination of a particular group, in both infrastructural development and political representation. This was articulated in what is popularly known today as the Abia Charter of Equity, unanimously adopted by the Aba, Old Bende/Umuahia and the Isuikwuato/Afikpo zones.
Unfortunately, there is a growing, albeit wrongly, narrative, borne out of avarice and desire to hold on to power, that the Abia State Charter of Equity prescribes the oscillation of power between the Old Bende and the Ukwa Nkwa old political blocs. This curve is not only immersed in falsehood and deceit, but it also portends a grave danger to the political calmness that has existed in the State, since the creation of the State, and the return of democracy in 1999. The creation of State has been widely accepted as an essential tool for State building and guaranteeing equal access to even development. However, the exercise has not always delivered the expected results of equity and fairness, so there are always suspicious dispositions among stakeholders. The desire and agitation for the creation of Abia state, as would be expected, was a serious matter of concern for all involved. Every clan wanted a vantage positioning, such that the perquisites and the benefits of a new political system would not elude them. There were so much uncertainty and agitations. The Ukwa/Ngwa bloc raised echoes of alienation, which having reached a crescendo led to the formulation of the Abia Charter of Equity. In political sociology, the Charter was meant to address resentment from what in Nigerian sociopolitical parlance, is called marginalisation. The Charter was to promote even development and equitable distribution of amenities, position in the then proposed state.
Some of the provisions of the Charter include:
1.That the Abia Governor and his deputy must not come from the same senatorial zone
- That the Governor and State Assembly Speaker, as well as the Governor and Secretary to the State government must not come from the same senatorial district.
- That the Chairman of the Civil Service Commission and the Head of Service must not come from the same senatorial zone.
- That the Chief Judge of the State and the Attorney General of the State must also not come from the same zone.
In a plain language, the Charter was instrumental in effecting the zoning formula for governorship, which has been in place, since the return of democracy in 1999. While there may have been downsides in the implementation of the philosophies of the Charter, it has been perfectly observed in the election of Abia Governor since 1999. Senator Orji Uzo Kalu (Abia North), held the reins from 1999 to 2007, Senator Theodore Oji (Abia Central) was in control between 2007 and 2015, while Dr. Okezie Victor Ikpeazu (Abia South), took over in 2015, and will complete the full cycle in 2023. This has been the well ordered pattern, and has not been disrupted in the past 21 years. When there was an attempt to disrupt the sequence, the voice of reason and warning rose. In a well publicized speech on August 27, 2018, during the 27th anniversary of the State’s creation held at the International Conference Centre Umuahia, the then Chairman, Abia State Advisory Council, Ezeogo Dr. Anagha Ezikpe , who was one of the Abia State founding fathers, and the Secretary of the Stakeholders Forum that agreed on the Charter, stated clearly: “…in the spirit of the charter of equity, political power had rotated round all three senatorial districts in the state with Abia North taking the first shot followed by Abia Central and Abia South where it currently resides”. In tacit support of the incumbent Governor, Dr Okezie Victor IKpeazu, he appealed to politicians to allow Abia South complete its own turn of second term already enjoyed by Abia North and Abia Central.
From the foregoing therefore, an argument and position that Abia governorship position rotates between Ukwa/Ngwa and Old Bende, is therefore, a deliberate move to obfuscate, obliterate and destroy the legacy of Abia founding fathers. This position, is no doubt a calculated move at destroying Abia State. Abia State has three Senatorial zones, and it is only logical, fair and, consistent with the contemporary progressive political thinking, that power revolves on this tripod. It is only right that the completion of Dr Ikpeazu’s tenure in 2023, should mark the beginning of another round of rotation from the Abia North, who would have patiently waited for 16 years to take another shot at the governorship. The Ukwa/Ngwa and Old Bende storyline is a dark ploy to ruin things in 2023, and this must be condemned by well meaning Abians. Let us be fair to ourselves and to our unborn generation. Abia belongs to all of us.