Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
Barely two months into Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s second and final tenure in office the scramble for his successor has commenced as the people of old Isuikwuato District have declared their intention to produce Abia governor in 2023.
The district, popularly known as the ‘land of generals’, comprises Isuikwuato and Umunneochi local governments and together with Bende, Ohafia and Arochukwu constitute Abia North senatorial district.
Stakeholders of Isuikwuato District stated their position in a communique ratified by a select committee of the Isuikwuato District Welfare Association (IDWA) at a meeting held at the palace of HRH Eze Ezo Ukandu, the traditional ruler of Isuikwuato.
In the five-point communique read to journalists by the secretary of IDWA, Hon. Obinna Ekekwe, the group said that come 2023 it would be the turn of Isuikwuato District to produce the person to occupy the topmost political office in God’s Own State.
The association stated that the clamour of Isuikwuato District was in line with the Abia charter of equity which stipulates that the rotation principle should apply in the sharing of key political offices in the state.
It explained that Isuikwuato as represented by the letter ‘I’ in the acronym from which Abia got its name had not occupied the office of governor unlike other component old divisions, namely Afikpo (A), Bende (B) and Aba(A) that combined to make up Abia when it was created in August 1991.
The group therefore appealed to other political blocs in Abia to show understanding and support the aspiration of Isuikwuato District in order to deepen the principle of equity under which Governor Ikpeazu emerged from the Ukwa/Ngwa which comprises the old Aba Division.
Specifically IDWA contended that with all the senatorial zones, Abia North, Abia Central and Abia South having each occupied the governorship seat since the inception of democracy in 1999 the power rotation should again start from Abia North.
The group further demanded that the governorship position should be zoned to Isuikwuato as old Bende component of Abia North had already had a fair share of producing two governors (Orji Uzor Kalu and Theodore Orji) after the old Afikpo was removed from Abia North and joined to Ebonyi State.
“The Abia State gubernatorial seat should be drafted by all parties to Isuikwuato District, in the spirit of Abia Charter of Equity. We supported Afikpo mount the rostrum of power. We worked wholesomely and tirelessly for Bende to take their slots. We even disabled our sons for Aba Division to assume power in the spirit of good conscience,” the group said.
According to IDWA, the Isuikwuato District had a distinct identity having been part of old Okigwe Division before it was joined to form Abia hence “it is an error of judgment to connote, to lump, to regard, to assume and to subscribe the people of Isuikwuato District as old Bende”.
It lamented that the people of Isuikwuato “ are being highly marginalised in the Abia project” as no person from the area has occupied any top office in Abia. These positions include office of governor, deputy governor, house of assembly speaker, secretary to the state government, chairman civil service commission, head of office, chief judge, among other top positions.
The Isuikwuato District Welfare Association argued that the Abia project stands on four legs hence “our District must be respected and honoured in the political architecture of Abia state” to strengthen the super structure and give every section a sense of belonging.