By Jones Nnanna Ike
I read with amused interest the latest offering by Ben Udechukwu in his pre-announced series profiling likely gubernatorial hopefuls in Abia State wherein he profiled the chances of Hon. Uko Ndukwe Nkole, the Member Representing Arochukwu/Ohafia Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives for the Abia top job.
Let me start by commending Ben Udechukwu for his voyage in prescience. It is expected in the build up to the 2023 Governorship Elections that gladiators will be thrown up and profiled for their strengths and weaknesses. Ben is very much within his rights as a practicing journalist in Abia State who has his pulse on political developments in the State.
May I also state that I do not have the permission of Hon. Nkole to write this rejoinder. He is capable of telling his own story and has an army of media managers to do that for him in an official capacity should he sanction such. I simply write as a concerned Abian equally abreast of developments and observing their unfolding and as someone who knows Uko Nkole very well.
Ben Udechukwu began his intervention by alluding to the recent interaction between Hon. Nkole and Members of the Ngwa Patriots during their recent retreat in Abuja.
First, Ben is right by highlighting the strong relationship between Hon. Nkole and political leaders of Ngwa extraction and indeed, top achievers of the extraction who make up the Ngwa Patriots Forum. Beyond the collective, it is no secret that Hon. Nkole has a personal, individual relationship with majority of Members of that Body having built a relationship with them over the years highlighted through exchange of visits and attendance of each others’ events at various occasions.
It was therefore not surprising that when the Forum chose to host their retreat in Abuja, they would call on Hon. Nkole, their friend who resides in Abuja, to host them to a lunch.
Beyond the lunch he hosted for the group and his presence to welcome and fraternise with them upon their arrival in Abuja, there is no record that Hon. Nkole co-sponsored the retreat as alluded to by Ben.
This clarification becomes important in order not to offend the sensibilities of the great many able and capable Ngwa sons and daughters who have the capacity and capability to underwrite their endeavours without seeking external assistance.
It is also on record that Members of the Ngwa Patriots visited other Abuja residents in the course of their retreat. I am not aware that conclusions have been drawn from those visits.
Having clarified that, I am very certain that Hon. Nkole is proud of his alliances accros the state.
I am aware that these relationships predate the current political calculation and are simply in his nature as an amiable bridge-builder and not tied to political benefits. Friendships towards a pre-determined objective are ephemeral and easy to spot. Long-standing friendship where the parties have stood by each other over years hardly fall under the category of calculated friendships.
Ben Udechukwu also alluded to likely opposition Hon. Nkole will face from his home front should he throw his heart into the ring. Naturally, politics by its very nature, as much as it brings status and admiration, also breeds envy sometimes, unwarranted.
Even Hon. Nkole himself would be hard-pressed to deny that he does not have disagreements on a number of issues with politicians in his locale but the way and manner he has won his two elections unequivocally speaks of a man on ground who has the unwavering support of his people.
To emerge unscathed as the only PDP Federal Legislator from a zone where the opposition was on rampage, is not the stuff of someone facing tangible opposition.
All politics are local and when the time comes, the same people who have always stood by Hon. Nkole in his constituency and the many more who are waiting to stand by him beyond his constituency will stand up to be counted.
With respect to everyone’s perceived strength and influence, the ultimate decider of political strength and influence is result at the polling unit and Hon. Nkole has shown capacity to lock down resounding votes from the polling units of his real and assumed traducers. At the right time, the people with the real influence – the voters – know where to pitch their tent.
It is however important to state that Hon. Nkole has treated every political leader in his constituency with the utmost deserving respect. He regularly consults stakeholders and enjoys the support and solidarity of most political leaders in his constituency as attested to by his back-to-back election victories.
On his performance in his current office, the facts are glaring. Hon. Nkole releases a periodic performance report which is in the public domain and it will be difficult for any objective analyser to whittle them down. Facts are sacred. As an indigene of Arochukwu/Ohafia Federal Constituency and one who has been involved in the politics of the Constituency over the years, I make bold to state that without any argument by even his opponents, Hon. Uko Ndukwe Nkole is the best Representative the people of Arochukwu/Ohafia have ever had since the creation of the Constituency.
The quantum of projects attracted by Hon. Nkole in his constituency is unequivocally beyond compare and it will be uncharitable to reduce them to ‘educational materials and reward programmes’. Even at that, education is the most important investment any leader can leave for his people. The quantum of educational intervention Hon. Nkole has embarked upon is evident of a man with an eye for the sustainable empowerment of his people as examplified by Chief Obafemi Awolowo whose educational intervention is still speaking positively for the South West Region decades after he left office as Premier of the Region. So I thank Ben Udechukwu for acknowledging Hon. Nkole’s educational intervention. It is actually his most important intervention in the Constituency.
The roads and most recently, the Nmuri concrete bridge and other bridges attracted by Hon. Nkole are there and speak for themselves. Communities, particularly, Akanu Ohafia people, are getting pipe-borne water for the first time since creation, reticulated directly into their homes while others with difficulties in getting portable drinking water today have unfettered access to it. No wonder Akanu Ohafia people honoured Hon. Nkole recently with the title of Ikeoha Ugwu Onyiriegbe!
Rural electrification projects are lighting up different communities in the constituency while Arochukwu/Ohafia indigenes are getting employed accros Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies in droves to mention a few. The records are there and they are unimpeachable.
As for his 2023 plans, I am not aware that Hon. Uko Nkole has declared interest to contest the Governorship of Abia State but I state without fear of contradiction that he would be well within his rights to do so and it will gladden the heart of his supporters who are ready and eager to go to the streets for him.
Hon. Uko Nkole by the provisions of the 1999 constitution (as amended), is eminently qualified to contest for the Governorship of Abia State without more having meritoriously voluntarily resigned at a middle-management cadre staff in the Federal Civil Service with relevant participation in national and international assignments and having served 2 meritorious terms as a Federal Legislator.
He has proven to be on ground with the context of the workings of International and National bureaucracy and Politics respectively and with the people of Abia State, he enjoys organic support accros strata and accros zones. He is a party man through and through who has stood on the position of the party unwaveringly accros contests and struggles. He is a cerebral young man of the people who is liked and celebrated by all and sundry and above all, he is a staunch disciple of Governor Okezie Victor Ikpeazu who is best positioned to carry on with the kinetic legacy of the Governor.
Finally, it bears stating that power belongs to God and He gives it to whom He pleases. There is no doubt that Abia, being God’s own State, God is interested in who emerges Governor of Abia State and at the appointed time, God will step in and hand power to whom He has predestinated to govern Abia.
Having said that, I commend Ben Udechukwu once again for his offering which is necessary to get the populace involved in the process of choosing their next leader. I thank him for his kind projection of Hon. Nkole and assure him that when the time is right, the will of God will be done in Abia State.
Chief Jones Nnanna Ike , a Social Scientist and a former Elected Executive Chairman Of Arochukwu LGA, writes from Idima Abam, Arochukwu LGA.