Abia state like every other state in Nigeria has three senatorial zones. Going by the State’s Charter of Equity (a document on which the state was founded and created) the emergence of governor from the three zones is by rotation.
The first elected governor in the truncated Third Republic, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu is from Abia North, Ohaozara specifically Uburu, (now in Ebonyi State).
The second elected governor in the Fourth Republic, Chief Orji Kalu also came from Abia North. He ruled for two terms spanning between 1999 and 2007.
The incumbent governor, who is the third elected governor, Chief T.A Orji is from Abia central.
As you can see, Abia North and Abia Central zones have produced governors. Now is the turn of Abia South to produce the next governor. In line with the agreement of Abia’s Charter of Equity, the ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, zoned its governorship ticket to Abia South.
This was why Senator Abaribe, Emeka Wogu and co stood strong in the race and Senator Nkechi Wogu who is from Abia Central was compelled to drop her gubernatorial ambition.
Also at the base of all the scheming for power shift, the Ngwa people who happen to be the biggest clan in the entire Igbo land and who mostly populate Abia South Senatorial zone were also aiming to take their shot at the Government House Umuahia.
This perhaps explains why Governor Theodore Orji for Dr Ikpeazu Okezie from Abia South as his successor. This decision did not go down well with Alex Otti, who dumped the PDP and picked up the APGA ticket to contest the election as governorship candidate.
This is not in line with the Abia charter on rotation of power. The APGA candidate Alex Otti, a native of Arochukwu local government in Abia North was born and bred in Isiala Ngwa in the Abia Central. He did his primary and secondary education in Isiala Ngwa and ordinarily obtained Ngwa indigeneship, which he relinquished in his days of success in the banking Industry.
He returned to his Arochukwu base where he built his palatial mansion with “NO PLACE LIKE HOME,” boldly inscribed on the wall.
Alex Otti severed all his relationship with the Ngwa community where he grew up and transferred his voter registration from Ngwa to a polling unit in Arochukwu.
While still in the PDP, Alex Otti lobbied Governor Orji endlessly for the PDP governorship ticket and allegedly lavished huge sum of money on the governor’s son.
The romance hit a turbulent storm when the governor told Alex Otti in clear terms that this time is the turn of Ngwa people to present a governor.
On hearing this, Alex Otti quickly made a U-turn and returned to his Isiala Ngwa base and built another palatial mansion. He invited the incumbent governor to the house opening ceremony last year. Upon building this mansion, Alex Otti suddenly became an Ngwa man again and he promptly deleted the “NO PLACE LIKE HOME,” inscription on his Arochukwu house.
He kept on romancing with the governor hoping to get the party’s ticket until a few days to the PDP primaries when the governor and his son showed open support for Dr. Ikpeazu, an original Ngwa son from Obingwa local government council.
Upon the endorsement of Dr Ikpeazu, other aspirants like Senator Abaribe, Emeka Wogu and co accepted this choice considering the quality of the candidate on display. His acceptance by other aspirants was to ensure a hitch free compliance with the Abia Charter of Equity and rotation principle.
Dr. Otti instead ran to Chief Victor Umeh in Awka and obtained an APGA governorship ticket to counter this solemn power rotation arrangement. He obtained his ticket from Victor Umeh even after Umeh’s tenure had expired as the national chairman of APGA, an issue that is a subject of litigation now and Alex Otti was unable to successfully integrate himself with the Abia state chapter of APGA, leading to his rejection as the governorship candidate by the state chapter of the party.
To make matters worse for Otti, the people of Abia South accused him of changing his place of origin just to gain undue advantage. Because of this deceit, he picked a deputy from Ohafia (he is from former Arochukwu/Ohafia LGA) thereby foisting Abia North/Abia North ticket on the people. This is the bone of contention. The gubernatorial election in Abia state has taken a tribal/ethnic coloration.
This has polarised the state leading to a protest vote against Otti, in favour of Okezie who ordinarily would have been rejected for being sponsored by the incumbent governor.
With Otti’s guber aspirations being heavily funded by the likes of former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu, it appears to be aimed at a colonisation of the entire Abia state by the people of Abia North. Alex Otti’s deputy is from Ohafia, a neighbouring community to Arochukwu, Otti’s authentic native homeland. So by this arrangement both the APGA governorship candidate and the deputy are from Abia North.
The Ngwa community are thinking that nothing is more criminal and evil than Otti’s inconsistency as it relates to his place of origin.
For the first time, Abia voters are voting along tribal lines. All the seven Ngwa local government areas voted for Dr. Ikpeazu overwhelmingly while the nine non Ngwa areas voted Dr Alex Otti.
Fortunately, for Dr Ikpeazu, the Ngwa areas have greater voting strength with Obingwa having the highest number of registered voters of about 140,000 voters.
Presently Dr. Ikpeazu is leading with a margin of about 83,000 votes and a rerun is very unlikely to produce a result that will favour Dr. Otti as most of the cancelled units are still within the Ngwa communities.
The incumbent governor’s unpopularity has been made manifest with the trend of events. Ochendo has lost elections to Dr. Otti consistently in his Umuahia domain. He lost his polling unit and his ward during the senatorial election in which he was a candidate and the Abia State House of Assembly election for Umuahia constituency, in which his son Ikuku was the PDP candidate. They were both declared winner after the result was allegedly manipulated and the stolen mandate allegedly awarded to them.
Commentators are saying that the victory of Ochendo at the Abia Central Senatorial election may not stand the scrutiny of the election petition tribunal.
Meanwhile, the 2015 Abia state governorship politics has gone beyond party politics. It is a complete combat between the Ngwa people and the non Ngwa people of Abia state. Dr. Ikpeazu is seen as already victorious as there was really no cogent reason for INEC to schedule a rerun in the few polling units that have not witnessed 40,000 accredited voters even with 130,000 voters that collected their PVCs.
In the final analysis, if Dr Alex Otti of APGA wins, it will be tied to his manipulation of the electoral umpire. On the other hand, if Dr Ikpeazu of the PDP wins it, this will not be about the popularity of the PDP or the support of the incumbent governor. A PDP victory shall be tied to the Ngwa community voting in protest against Abia North domination of the political space after fielding a governorship candidate and his deputy from the same zone.
Akoji writes from Umuahia