As 2019 draws near, communities, individuals and politicians are already strategising to ensure they take advantage of the prevailing political situation within their domain.
In Abia State for instance, the people of Ohafia are already making demand.
Being an area with the highest number of registered voters in the state after Umuahia North and Obingwa councils respectively, they believe they deserve the slot, more so that the area has the highest number of voters in Abia North senatorial zone.
Daily Sun gathered that from the second republic till date, the votes from the community have always been deciding the factor, as they usually deliver block votes to any party or individual they decide to support.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has ruled Abia State since 1999, except for three years, of the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), when it held sway. Interestingly, PPA was a breakaway from PDP. In all these, the block votes from the community had always determined the side the pendulum swung.
But the people feel they have never been adequately compensated for their gesture. They alleged political marginalisation, saying that for the past 20 years, all the other communities have had its fair share of having one of its own either appointed or elected into “very senior political offices,” leaving them with nothing.
They further complained that while their brothers and neighbours bordering them on the north and south have, at different times, had the fortune of producing the speaker of the State House of Assembly, members of the National Assembly and a deputy governor, they have never been considered for such offices despite their huge population, electoral value, enormous resourceful manpower and support given to successive governors of Abia State.
And they have decided to seize the occasion of a rainbow civic reception, held recently in the area to drum their many years of political neglect and subjugation in the allocation of elective political offices, to the ears of the governor.
The occasion, chaired by Professor Mosto Onuoha, an indigene of Ohafia and the current president of the Nigerian Society of Scientists, also had the renowned Ohafia evangelist, Dr. Uma Ukpai in attendance.
The message of the Ohafia people to the governor was delivered in an address read by Chief Umeh Kalu (SAN). Kalu outlined the pitiable state of political neglect of Ohafia in the allocation of elective positions despite being the most populous homogeneous clan in the Abia north senatorial zone.
He further said “permit us at this stage, our governor, to pour out our heart as a people to you, over what seems like a sustained design to subjugate our people and consign us to perpetual political irrelevance in the sharing of elective political offices. We do this knowing that apart from being the governor of our state, you are equally the leader of the political party that has dominated the political space of the state over the years.
“It is heart rendering to note that no Ohafia indigene has occupied any elective political office of note in our state for the past 10 years despite the fact that some key political offices have within this period been zoned to our political zone, i.e. Abia North.
“The speakership position of the Abia State House of Assembly had before the present political dispensation been domiciled in Abia North senatorial zone. Our brothers and immediate neighbours bordering us on the north and south i.e. Ozu Abam and Nkporo, have at different times been opportune to occupy the said office of the Speaker. Our Nkporo brothers have occupied that position twice, while our brothers from Ozu Abam have done so once.
“During the last general elections, our Nkporo brothers equally got the deputy governorship slot, while Ozu Abam, which incidentally is in Arochukwu Local Government Area, got the House of Representatives slot in addition to the Abia north senatorial seat, which was equally in Arochukwu Local Government Area.
“The above scenario left our Clan – Ohafia – which till date remains the largest homogenous clan in the Abia north senatorial zone bare and bereft of any elective political representation. This, in our minds, was the height of political neglect and subjugation, which incident played itself out in the entire gamut of the 2015 general election result in Ohafia Local Government Area.
“As if the denial of elective positions was not enough to the psyche of the ordinary Ohafia man, our clan was further denied by the dominant political party of major positions within the local government in the sharing of party offices. While we have resolved to put behind us our pitiable past and consign it to the realms of history, we consider this time that we have a governor who is a product of justice and equity most appropriate to demand for redress.
“While one may argue that the Ohafia people should take their destiny in their hands and fight for their rightful position, the influence and powers of political leaders in the allotment of political offices in our clime can never be jettisoned. Even the 1999 Constitution and byelaws of all political parties recognise Federal Character in the sharing of political offices.
“We must place it on record here, that we are not envious of the political strides of our brothers and neighbours as earlier enumerated, and neither do we ask that they be deprived of what is due to them. All we seek is that consideration be given to us considering our many years of deprivation, in the sharing of political offices,” the community told the governor.
The Ohafia people, therefore, sought the governor’s intervention to ensure one of their indigenes is given the opportunity to serve the state by the dominant political party, which is the PDP, as a senator, member of the House of Representatives or deputy governor of the state.
However, the present occupants of the three elective political offices, which the community is demanding to occupy, were there. The deputy governor, Sir Udeoko Chukwu; Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, representing Abia North and Uko Nkole, representing Arochukwu–Ohafia in the House of Representatives.
Expectedly, the trio are squaring up for a fight. The deputy governor, who took it as a personal attack and a threat to his ambition, has resorted to all manner of measures to make sure that the office doesn’t elude him.
According to Daily Sun findings, both Senator T. A. Orji and his son, Chinedu, who nominated him as deputy governor, after he had served as speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly, have vowed to ensure his re-nomination as the running mate of the present governor, whether the incumbent governor wants it or not.
Mr. Anya Udeh, one of the aides of the deputy governor, told Daily Sun that his boss’ ambition shouldn’t cause rift between his Nkporo community and Ohafia, saying: “The two communities are brothers.”