Tragic flaws are those factors that contribute to the downfall or tragic end of a hero or heroine in a literary work. Just like Ezeulu, the priest of Ulu, in Chinua Achebe’s ‘Arrow of God’ abandoned the religion of his fathers, to embrace Christianity, after which he was visited by untold calamity by the gods, which culminated in the death of his son, Obika, in this piece, OKECHUKWU KESHI UKEGBU writes that intra-party wrangling, inconsistency in nativity, political inexperience and choice of running mate cost Dr. Alex Otti his governorship ambition
The agitation for a governor of Ukwa- Ngwa extraction has spanned over a decade. Ukwa- Ngwa ethnic nationality is the largest in Abia State. But unfortunately, however, this ethnic- nationality, with nine local government areas, has not produced the governor of Abia State, after several attempts. Therefore, the Ngwas were negotiating for nothing less than the governorship slot in 2015. And nothing less than a true Ngwa man whose nativity was not in question would have assuaged the quest.
In his reaction after Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP was declared winner of the governorship poll in Abia State, parallel governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Ochiagha Reagan Ufomba, said that the party lost the gubernatorial election because it did not field a true son of Ngwa land.
“Otti came with a baggage of inexperience,” Ufomba said. He maintained that the party could have consolidated on the achievement it recorded in 2011 if it had done the needful by fielding a true Ngwa son.
Another factor that dealt a deadly blow on Abia APGA and its pursuit to wrestle power from the ruling PDP was the crisis that rocked it, which was occasioned by the choice of its governorship candidate.
The crisis came to a climax when few days to the elections, a faction of the party in the state adopted the governorship candidate of the PDP as its candidate for the governorship election.
In a resolution read by the faction of the party led by Prince Nnanna Ukaegbu at the party secretariat, Umuahia, APGA said “the decision was taken after a careful perusal of Dr. Ikpeazu’s programmes.” The party added that it realized that Ikpeazu’s agenda opposes what it described as” loans and borrow” agenda of some of his (Ikpeazu’s) opponents.
“We had equally extracted a firm commitment from Dr. Ikpeazu that he is going to be his own man contrary to erroneously propagated views in the discharge of the duties attached to the office of the governor and would not succumb to undue influence from any quarters.
“The party therefore enjoined its teeming supporters and the entire people of Abia to vote massively for Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu. The Arochukwu/ Ohafia ticket of Dr. Otti purportedly done in the name of our great party is reminiscence of the Gideon Orkar coup where attempt was made to shut off certain parts of the country. The single local government area governorship/deputy ticket is both naive and irresponsible and designed to provoke an integral part of the state to a breach of peace.”
The issue of who was the authentic governorship candidate of the party in Abia State assumed a front burner. Three major actors, Ufomba and Otti and one Udo Ahiwe, were laying claims to the ticket. And it was distracting to the quest of the party to wrestle power from the PDP.
The issue pitted the camps against each other. Ufomba had accused
Otti of perjury and impersonation even as he also alleged that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is an accomplice in fueling the crisis.
Ufomba said that Dr Alex Otti was not a member of APGA as stipulated by the party’s constitution but still a member of the PDP.
The unresolved internal wrangling in the party was a huge stumbling block to whatever success the party had hoped in the election. And the role played by the national leadership of the party did not help the cause of the party towards achieving success.
The party’s chairman in the state, Prince Ukaegbu accused the national chairman of the party, Chief Victor Umeh of hijacking the party and making it look like a personal estate.
“In every twelve there must be a Judas. APGA has been privatized by Chief Victor Umeh. He has elongated his tenure. His tenure ended on 4th December 2014. He has been in power for 11 years and instead of walking away gracefully, his tenure was elongated in a charade held in Awka,” Ukaegbu said.
A chieftain of the party who preferred anonymity blamed the wrangling on the defeat of APGA at the gubernatorial poll.
While the dust of internal party wrangling was yet to settle, the issue of Otti’s real place of origin surfaced. Both the PDP and the APC had their candidates from Ngwa, the largest single voting bloc in the state with nine local governments. The PDP in a bid to assuage the clamour by Ngwa people to produce the next governor of the state had restricted its ticket to Abia South dominated almost exclusively by Ngwa people. This spurred on the people.
In a bid to benefit from this exclusive consideration, Otti was said to have swiftly gone to court to swear affidavit changing his place of birth from Arochukwu in Abia north to Ngwa in Abia south. Ngwa people kicked against this vehemently denying such claims. And in a bid to solidly hold firm to being an Ngwa man, Otti nominated his running mate from Ohafia, a neighbouring town where it is being alleged he comes from. Therefore, otti’s ticket was widely seen as an exclusive ticket of Abia north.
With all the flaws enroute the election, it was defeat foretold. However, the question in Abia now remains: will Otti do the needful by jettisoning any intentions of going to the tribunal and save the governor-elect the pains and distraction associated with election litigations?
He is even more determined to challenge the outcome of the election than he was in winning the election. Addressing journalists on the announcement at his campaign office Sunday, he said “I will stop at nothing to ensure that the mandate the people of Abia gave me not just as a person but as a change agent will not be stolen.”
He expressed confidence in getting justice at the tribunal saying “because we are standing on the part of justice, we must get justice. What we have is criminals in power and we must do something to stop it, I am committed to eradicating the rot in this state.”
He came down hard on INEC accusing it of complicity in the alleged manipulation of the election.
“I have never seen an organization that performs its duties as disjointed as INEC did. He also alleged that the commission cancelled the rerun in Umunneochi without recourse to the party. The APGA candidate also wondered why INEC stood on the cancellation and reversal of the result from three local government areas, which the Returning Officer said was based on incontrovertible evidence of irregularities saying I know that INEC has a lot of questions to answer,” he said.
Earlier national chairman of the party, Chief Victor Umeh decried what happened in the South East during the election describing it as disheartening.
According to him, “it is only in the South East that ad hoc staff were appointed by politicians/candidates to conduct elections, we reject the result as announced, we cannot lose election where the process is transparent.”
Otti’s later day romance with the APC may have also sealed his fate. There were insinuations before the rerun election that he had concluded plans to defect to APC once he was elected governor. To lay credence to this fear, few days before the election, Otti made a surprise appearance at a meeting of APC at Rivers Governor’s Lodge in Abuja.