By Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
In a bid to make Governor Okezie Ikpeazuâ€™s second term bid an easy ride, the people of Ukwa/Ngwa political bloc at the weekend adopted him as â€œconsensus candidateâ€ for the 2019 governorship election and barred all â€œtrue indigenesâ€ of Ukwa/Ngwa from challenging him.
The adoption was the highlight of the second edition of the Great Ukwa/Ngwa Declaration, which held at Okpualangwa, the headquarters of Isiala Ngwa North local government and ancestral home of Ngwa people. The motion for Ikpeazuâ€™s adoption was moved by former Senate President, Chief Adolphus Wabara and seconded by former Director General of the National Directorate of Employment, Dr. Chukwu Wachuku.
The event brought together personalities from the nine local governments that make up the Ukwa/Ngwa bloc, with traditional rulers, politicians, businessmen, among others, backing the decision to adopt Ikpeazu for a second term in office.
Ikpeazu became Abia governor in 2015 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and it is expected that he would seek second term ticket on the same PDP platform.
But his kinsmen declared that no Ukwa/Ngwa person even in the opposition parties should nurse any governorship ambition and should also not accept to be a running mate to governorship candidates in the opposition parties.
To drive home their point and ensure compliance, the people of Ukwa/Ngwa warned in the communiquÃ© issued at the event â€œthat any Ukwa/Ngwa son or daughter, or community that violates this agreement as contained in this communiquÃ© shall be ex-communicated.â€
Aside from the threat of ex-communication, traditional rituals were also performed to ensure strict compliance to the decision that Ikpeazu should not be challenged by any of his kinsman for the position of governorship of Abia come 2019.
In what the organisers of the event regarded as â€œthe final word of Ukwa/Ngwa peopleâ€ this position was reinforced with collection of signatures, which according to the organisers, has reached â€œmore than a million and (still) counting.â€
The communiquÃ© read by Chibuike Nwokoukwu (SAN) explained that the decision to adopt Ikpeazu as consensus candidate to enable him actualise his second term bid was to further reinforce the spirit if be your brotherâ€™s keeperÂ which underlined the Abia charter of equity.
According to those that subscribed to the great Ukwa/Ngwa declaration, Ikpeazu has performed well enough to deserve another term of four years after completing his current tenure, adding that his predecessors, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu and Senator Theodore Orji all completed two tenures in office.
â€œThe people of Ukwa/Ngwa are very proud that the first governor of Abia State of Ukwa/Ngwa extraction, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu has indisputably raised the bar of performance in governance. He has shown unprecedented political will in tackling the problems of the state,â€ the communiquÃ© read.
In the build-up to the agreement to adopt Ikpeazu as the consensus candidate, speakers at the occasion had harped on what they considered as excellent performance of the governor.
The convener of the event and frontline Abia politician, Ochiagha Reagan Ufomba, said in his welcome address that while Ikpeazuâ€™s kinsmen acknowledged his accomplishments in office so far â€œIt is instructive that when a player in a team performs creditably, that confers on the one the opportunity to be fielded in the next game.â€
Elder statesman, Emmanuel Adaelu, who chaired the event, chaired on the Abia charter of equity, noting that since justice, equity, and fairness have been enthroned in Abia politics it should not be truncated.
In his response, Governor Ikpeazu said that he was humbled by the decision of his kinsmen to adopt him as their consensus governorship candidate for 2019, adding that it was a fitting acknowledgement of his performance in office.Â Â
He stated that equity demands that since other two zones had been supported to stay for eight years atÂ Abia government house his own case should not be different,Â as according to him, he has not been found wanting in his governance of Godâ€™s own state.
He lauded the Ukwa/Ngwa people for their bold initiative to support his second term bid, assuring them that having given him the go ahead it now behoves on him to do the political battle come 2019.
â€œWe are not confused we are focused,â€ he said, adding that people should endeavour to obtain their voters card so they could use them to make a statement in 2019.