It was on a Tuesday, August 27, 1991 when the whole nation glued to their television and radio sets attentively to listen to the national broadcast of the military ruler General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida as he an nodes the creation of more states in Nigeria, nor all Abians it was historic as sounds of joy rented the air following the announcement of Abia state with its capital named as Umuahia, this was followed with appointment of its military administrator before the truncated 1993 general elections that saw the country returned back to another military regime that lasted till May 29, 1999.
The year 1999 saw a new dispensation of democracy in Nigeria till date and have seen the state successively producing three democratically elected executive governors of Dr. Orji Uzo Kalu, Abia North, Mr. Theodore Amaefule Orji Abia Central and the incumbent Governor Okezie Ikpeazu Abia South yet the state has remained in same position hence the agitation from various quarters demanding rotational or zoning which so far seem to have been equitable with its three senatorial districts clinching to its first office.
Having had the governorship position rotated round its three senatorial districts and achievements recorded thus far, it’s obviously clear that the zoning or rotation is not what the state requires for a robust leadership towards position the 29years old state to a pivotal height rather with its abundance in human capital resources, it’s time for Abians to relegate the political structures designed to favour the King Makers aka godfathers of each of the districts as against its entire citizenry.
As 2023 draws nearer with the quest to succeed the incumbent Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu in the government house gradually kicking off, it’s time for Abians at home and in diaspora to begin the search for their leader irrespective of his/her district to producing their Moses to land Abia not just out of its bondage of bad leadership but to also deliver it from the shackles of its godfathers as it heads towards Cannan. One who will be able to change the narratives on the emergence of political officers as desired by the people and devoid of imposition by the very few who have had their interests protected from 1999 to date.
Abia deserves a leader who would have the capacity to design its sustainable developmental goals that will out live the leader but chart a course for its development in all spheres and able to live with a lesser or no dependent on its federal allocations. A leader with the needed clout to expanding the horizons of Abia by providing leadership based on reconciliation, peace, security and infrastructure across the length and breadth of the state. A leader with less or no sentiments for a particular quarter of the state but with a vision and understanding that Abia bu nke anyi irrespective of ones community, a bridge builder who will create enabling environment for both for Abians and non-Abians.
From all the indications from 1999, Abia still remains one of the poorest states in Nigeria despite its membership of Oil producing states with its accruing allocations. What the state needs as the 2023 race is gradually getting set to kick off is a tested and trusted Abian, a manager, a visionary and selfless leader with vast knowledge of its entire components, a man with the political will to work for Abians and not for the few.
A man who will like General Mohammad Buhari stated in his inaugural speech of May 29, 2015 ” a man that will belong to everyone and to nobody”, one who will have the courage in solidarity with the state Assembly understand the need to bringing governance closer to the people through breaking the local government areas into Local Government (LGs) and Local Council Development Authorities (LCDAs) despite the challenges of the federal constitution and further create and recognise what may be called the fourth tier of government in the place of Community Development Committees and its Community Development Association (CDCs/CDAs with the sole objective of equitable distribution of its eluding dividends of democracy in turn drives developments to all its nooks and crannies.
Economically, it is still shocking that after 29 years of creation of Abia its very few industries inherited from old Imo state are still moribund. Twenty years of uninterrupted democracy there is no blueprint to its developmental plans. Aba, its supposed commercial capital has continuously suffered reckless abandonment with regards to infrastructures and industrialisation towards harnessing its embedded potentials and positioning it for a favourable competitions with other commercial capitals and thereby adding a thrust to the internally generated revenues (IGR) of Abia.
God’s Own State as known it is not of a mistake that Abiamuwa Chukwu Okike deposited Aba in Abia but the lack of leadership has failed to realise this gift which would have served as a catalyst for employment there by reducing criminality rather it has been left for political aggrandizement. The leader Abia needs come 2023 must be one with genuine demonstrated passions and abilities to recognise that the development of any constituency depends largely on the effectiveness of empowering and promoting its small medium enterprises (SMEs) through low scheme fundings which will in return mean an increase on its income per capita and its GDP.
From the far East Asia, Europe, America, Australia and Africa the lists of Abians are endless with men and women who have demonstrated the ability and capacity to change the narratives hence as the cotton towards the 2023 general elections draws closer its an opportunity for Abians to look far beyond the shores for an Abian with such passion and enthusiasm to rescue Abia from the Hawks already plotting to use the scheme of zoning for their selfish gains by instituting a government that will be answerable to them, this must be resisted by Abians.
With Abia’s billions of Naira and Dollars lost to looting and misappropriation in its last twenty years of the current democratic dispensation without any meaningful development; there is no more time to sustain the gambling on the guise of zoning rather its time to rest the political ideology of godfathers and their culture of imposition on this guise. Abian freedom is usually fought for.
Abel Lazarus is a media consultant based in Lagos State