By Ikeddy Isiguzo
Abia State is unique in many respects. The most peculiar could be the Abia Charter of Equity that preceded the creation of the Abia State by 10 years. It was a pre-nuptial meant to provide confidence for the partners, Umuahia, and Aba Zones that were to be excised from Imo State.
One of the partners, Aba, was asking for its own State. Umuahia Zone wanted Aba Zone in the proposed State to strengthen the quest. The Charter became an agreement that cemented the relationship. The sharing of power was between Umuahia – old Bende – as some prefer to call it, and Aba.
The power-sharing flight took off in 1991 under the military from Umuahia which included parts of what later became Ebonyi State. Ogbonnaya Onu was Governor. The military aborted that move.
When civil rule returned in 1999, the flight still re-commenced from Umuahia. For eight years Orji Uzor Kalu, OUK, was Governor. At handing over, he plotted a new schedule for the flight.
Instead of a direct flight to Aba Zone, in the spirit of the Abia Charter of Equity, he routed the flight to stopover in Abia Central Senatorial Zone, on the Umuahia side.
The complications started. With the splitting of States into three Senatorial Zones by 1999, Abia Central had six local government areas, three each from Umuahia and Aba Zones. The Umuahia side of the zone had Theodore Ahamefula Orji, TAO, as Governor for eight years.
Power shifted only within Umuahia Zone of the signatories to the Abia Charter of Equity when it was expected to head to Aba Zone. This resulted in 16 uninterrupted years of Umuahia Zone producing the governors.
We can discount the two years of Governor Onu since they were under military rule.
Only a few would have forgotten the strident oppositions to Okezie Ikpeazu’s governorship race in 2015 and even in 2019. Umuahia Zone considered it a betrayal that must be fought with illogical determinations and conclusions. Power should return to Umuahia Zone in 2023 is the latest feast for loud voices that ignore the contradictions they peddle.
Ad hominem has become the standard for discussing a straight forward issue that does not invite duplicitous interpretations of the Abia Charter of Equity.
Governor Ikpeazu leaves office in May 2023. It is time for the flight that took off to Aba Zone to make its return journey. The pilot has filed the flight plan as has been the democratic tradition since 1999. Opposition has risen with mindless mendacities.
Mindful of how the same aircraft has been flown since 1999, the oppositions, including elements outside the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, have started needless frays over the flight plan. They latch on tensions that participants in the decisions since 1999 are generating.
They insist on a direct flight to Umuahia Zone.
Whatever happened to the eight-year stopover in Abia Central that birthed TAO’s administration in 2007? They would not discuss it. Those who assume they own Abia State make the rules and break them at their pleasure.
Even our proverbs bear witness to the absurdity of the illogical insistence on making no stopover in Abia Central, the Aba Zone side. You come down from a tree the way you climbed, say our elders.
A stopover in Aba Zone of Abia Central is mandatory by the rules instituted in 2007. Governor Ikpeazu was not in the picture then. The present pilot in his magnanimity has included an option that accommodates Umuahia Zone, again his decision, different from his predecessors.
Half truths have been unleashed on the public to ridicule a decisive faithfulness to the implementation of the Abia Charter of Equity. Opponents that mouth equity are unwilling to discuss what equity means when Umuahia Zone that has been in power for 16 years, wants to extend its hold by another eight years while Aba Zone is just completing its first eight years.
Equity simplified is that Aba Zone will complete its eight years – that would be 16 years, at par with Umuahia Zone. An unprecedented direct flight to Umuahia Zone will result in 24 years of governors from Umuahia Zone while Aba Zone will be on eight years.
Dislike for Ngwa people cannot be a substitute for the logic equity bears, least of all the unconditional comforts the Abia Charter of Equity provides for power-sharing in the State.
The tales are that Governor Ikpeazu, an Ngwa man, is handing over to another Ngwa man. Yes, the three Aba Zone local government areas in Abia Central are populated by Ngwa people. But they are a different political block from Governor Ikpeazu’s Abia South.
Was the argument in 2007 not that the three Umuahia local government areas of Abia Central were a distinct political block that Umuahia Zone did not accommodate? And that postulation cannot apply to Aba Zone for 2023?
Abia State has enjoyed political stability. It should be sustained. The antics of latter day saints, among them purloiners of opportunities of governance, should not be added to the ascending illogical narratives that rule the 2023 governorship engagements. Threats have no space in democracy.
Some of Abia’s most intelligent people are promoting the discordant notes of equity. Their energies should be more gainfully applied.
Eight years are not eternity. Time in politics appears to fly faster. By 2031, the flight should continue to Umuahia Zone and be there until 2039.
Safe trip Abia State – with minimal turbulences – on the sustained journey to equity.
The article is a wholesale response to all manners of enquiries I have received over what some call “the ingenious use of the Abia Charter of Equity” in reference to the 2023 transition. I think a fuller disclosure is necessary in the best practice tradition of journalism : I am Ngwa.
*Isiguzo is a major commentator on minor issues