From James Ojo, Abuja
Not satisfied with the quality of representation at the Red chamber of the National Assembly, and a fact that the seat should have been occupied by one of their own, the people of Ikwuano in Abia Central Senatorial District in Abia state have commenced consultations that would dislodge the present occupant and former governor of the state, Chief Theodore Orji.
Daily Sun gathered that Orji had railroaded the leadership of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to concede the ticket for the Abia Central Senatorial District seat to him at the expense of the Ikwuano people after eight years as state governor in the last election.
Orji’s political ascendancy was facilitated and oiled by his mentor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, whom he succeeded in office, but turned around to stab him in the back by betraying him.
Ventilating the yearnings of the people of Ikwuano on the veracity and justification to produce the next senator, Chief Festus Chidozie Egbulefu, an Abuja based Estate Surveyor, who hails from Akoli Umuigi Ikwueke Oboro autonomous community in Ikwuano Local government area of the state, told Daily Sun that his people had waited long enough, given support to other parts of the senatorial district to win elections, but now is the time for the rest of the district to reciprocate by conceding the ticket to Ikwuano.
“It is our right, the rights of Ikuwano to produce the next Senator for Abia Central, it is fair, it is just and it is natural. We have been waiting, supporting other areas, even when it was clear that we are been slapped on the face. Now, all we are saying to other parts of the Central district, which we know and that they also know that it is our turn to produce the next Senator.”
On the reasons for the early call when the next election is about two years ahead, Surveyor Egbulefu said it was to send signals to whoever wants to dare the Ikwuano that we are not ready to be taken for another ride like it happened before.
He also disclosed that the search for the next candidate of Ikwuano extraction among interested contestants in all the political parties has since commenced discreetly to avoid undue influence and manipulations by vested interest for selfish purpose.
“Sing it on every streets of Abia central; make it very loud on every hills and valleys of the District that Ikuwano is geared to take over what is our right. We would represent Ikwuano in the senate by the year 2019. Every other zone in the district had had their turn, it is now the turn of Ikuwano person and the person can be a member of any political party, so long your are an Ikwuano person.
“We are not been parochial and no one should deny us because we have the capacity, we have the capability, we have everything it takes to go there and represent Abia senatorial district, nobody can take it away from us and no true sons and daughters of Ikuwano can go against it. Any person that goes against this dream is not an Ikuwano person,” Ekpulefu said.
He also revealed that stakeholders, both at local, state, national and international levels are assiduously mentoring people who are beginning to show interest in the politics of the area, and that the search has been made open so as to get the best for the Ikuwano.
On how the former governor made it in 2015, Ekpulefu, further said: “We knew what happened in the last dispensation. It was an open show. The former governor, Theodore Orji muscled his way to the senate, we still gave him our total support, but now support and loyalty must be reciprocated in 2019. So, what we are saying is that the next senator representing our district must come from Ikwuano, we see this as a right that must not be denied.”
Asked what the response of Ikwuano people would be to the practice which is fast becoming the norm for elected officials to spend more than a term in office, especially where the constitution has not placed a limit to the number of terms for Legislators, Chief Egbulefu said that the people were very much aware of the development, adding that it was the reason the people began the struggle early enough to drum it, and make its position loud concerning 2019.
He further said: “Politics in Abia state is fluid, that of Abia Central district is interesting, interest goes beyond zoning, you were elected into office and you want to run again if the constitution permits, that is an open field, you have to come and restate and reaffirmed your popularity. You must come and know whether the Abia Central would give you the mandate or not, we are not stopping anybody from running, but the truth should be told.
“Chief T.A Orji has to come if he has the ticket of his party to run again, but he must be ready to fight. The leaders of Abia State know, the stakeholders of Abia state know, even him; Senator Theodore Orji knows that it is the turn of Ikwuano person. Whether you are from Labour Party, Peoples Democratic Party, All progressive Congresss, Mega party, it is on the streets of Abia that it is the turn of Ikwuano person.
“Again, nobody can say that we don’t have the personality that can go there, we have qualified men and women and we are ready to fight for it. We have capable men and women all over, we are blessed with tested men and women with quality pedigree, people that have distinguished themselves in all facet of lives, we have retired men and women who are doing good making valuable contributions to develop Ikwuano, we have them scattered all over the globe. One thing, Ikwuano is never lacking in good quality of men and women who can give us better representation that what what are having today.”
He assured that the people of Ikwuano would put their house in order so as not to allow space for politicians with capacity for mischief and dexterity to deceive the people.
He further explained that “this is why the stakeholders in Abuja, Lagos, Aba, Umuahia, Port-Harcourt, Kano, Kaduna and other major cities across the globe are making consultations and comparing notes on the need to forge a common front to ensure the emergence of a candidate that will stand and defeat any opposition against Ikwuano’s genuine aspiration.
“Let them hear, let the politicians hear that people are going to vote on personality. We are not going to vote you because you are in APC, PDP or any other party. We are going to look at the pedigree of each candidate, what has he done for his community, what has he or she done for the state and the senatorial district, that is what we are going to look at and that is the kind of politics that we want to inculcate in Abia state and the senatorial districts.
“It is no longer a party issue, you can even come from the biggest party, but we would keep you one side and look at the person. Because a lot of people have hidden under the shadow of political party, win election and run away. Now is who are you, what is your pedigree.”
On the assessment of the previous administrations in the state, Chief Egbulefu said that each administration left legacies that succeeding ones either followed or rejected. In all, he lamented that the state was yet to attain her position in the comity of states in the federation and particularly in the South -East zone.
“I am from Ikwuano in Abia Central senatorial district. Lagos is a commercial hub of this country and the western part of it, Aba is supposed to be the commercial hub of Abia state.
“The truth is that past governments have not done too well to help Aba develope its potentials. It is now that we are witnessing the promotion of made in Aba goods; it should have been started long time ago, but never too late as the saying goes. There is an urgent need to revive Aba industrial estate, most industries are moribund, and the present administration must go beyond the rhetoric to make the state an investor’s destination. What we want is for the governor to spread development to all parts of the state. A recent visit to the state capital showed that it was not what it used to be. The state capital, Umuahia has lost its cleanliness, which was a pride before.
“Every corners and streets, you are confronted with hips of debris; even the Government Reserved Areas are not exempted. Then when you talk about my own Ikwuano, from the road that lead to Ikot Ekpene, in Cross River state, it is worst than a death trap. “
Reminded that FERMA, was on thatroad recently, he said “Yes, recently, the Federal Emergency Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) were on the road to do palliative maintenance, it is very clear that in the next one or two years that road would fail again, and this is one of the reasons we are praying to have a good representation that can take this to the national level and let the government come and do a standard road for us. “
To the incumbent governor, chief Ekpulefu wants him to bring in people that have the expertise to help him in rebuilding the state.
He said “we have the potentials. He should not make someone who studied history commissioner for lands, or you appoint someone who is not an engineer and make him the commissioner for works.
“The governor should also look at the sycophants around him, because there is no government or governor without sycophants. He should be able to know when they are telling him the truth and when they are trying to deceive him.
“It is a pity that in my state before 6:pm or 7:pm everywhere is dead, there should be night activities, they should put adequate security in place to attracts investors to the state so that the state can grow and there should be transparency in government. Once that is done, you would see investors coming. Abia state is blessed with natural resources, Aba is there. Look at what is happening in Onitsha, Nnewi, Aba should follow.”