The director-general of Ihe Abia, a socio-political organisation committed to good governance and accountability in Abia State and Nigeria, Ichie Emeka Okpara, has called on the state governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, and other stakeholders in the state to ensure that power transits peacefully to Abia North senatorial zone, come 2023.
Speaking to newsmen at his country home in Isuochi, Umunneochi Local Government Area of Abia State, Okpara said it was enshrined in the the Abia Charter of Equity, which has been in existence and operation since 1999, that each of the three senatorial zones would take eight years in office as governor and pass the baton to the next zone. He maintained that it was the turn of Abia North to produce the next governor of the state, since the other two zones have also taken their turns to govern Abia State.
“The Abia Charter of Equity, which is anchored on the principles of justice, equity and fairness, was bequeathed to us by our founding fathers in 1999 and it has enabled us to live peacefully as brothers in the past 23 years without any zone feeling marginalized by another. The charter gives every zone a sense of belonging because political offices are shared harmoniously,” he said.
Okpara pointed out that it was necessary for the zoning arrangement to continue from where it started in 1999 to forestall the breakdown of law and order in Abia State, as every zone has had a shot at the highest office in the state. He called on those seeking to retain power to consider the wider implications of their selfish ambition and save Abia State from politics of rancour and acrimony, which is bound to creep into the state if Abia North is denied its rightful chance to produce the next governor.
“Those from Abia South senatorial zone that insist on retaining power should examine their demands and be mindful of the dangers they portend for the peace-loving people of Abia. The rotation of power has been very peaceful and any attempt to deny the due beneficiaries of this charter would spell doom for Abia now and in the future.
“New divisions of Old Aba and Old Bende zones are not only archaic but alien to us. The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria delineates each state into three Senatorial zones. Apart from that, any other delineation is alien to us and unacceptable”, Okpara said.
He called on governor Okezie Ikpeazu to work with other stakeholders to ensure that power transits to Abia North in fulfillment of the promise he made in 2019 while campaigning for his second term of office.
“The governor made a promise to Ndi Abia during his second term bid that the torch of equity would remain alight in his time in Abia by ensuring that power goes back to Abia North in 2023, being where it started in 1999. This is the time to rally other stakeholders and redeem the promise he made. Being the last beneficiary, it is incumbent on him to pass the torch of equity to Abia North in fulfillment of his promise and in furtherance of peace and stability in Abia State. The peace we enjoy on Abia State is a product of love and understanding. It is based on the principle of equity. We are brothers and the best we can do to maintain this peace is not to disrupt the process and allow it to run smoothly”, he said.
The Abia Charter of Equity was conceived by the elders of the State in 1999 so that the three zones that make up the state would each have a taste of executive power after every eight years. In 1999 Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu from Abia North became governor and the torch moved to Chief T. A. Orji from Abia Central in 2007. The present governor Dr. Okezie Victor Ikpeazu from Abia South is the last to complete the circle having taken over from the Central Senatorial zone in 2015 and was re-elected in 2019 to complete his second term which ends in 2023.
According to Okpara, Ihe Abia as an organization stands for peace and justice for all men irrespective of where they come from. “If it was the turn of Abia South or Central to produce the next governor, Ihe Abia would have strongly supported that aspiration as well”. He extolled the foresight of Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu in allowing the power move from the North to the Central and now in the South Senatorial zone. “If Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu did not insist on implementing the Abia charter of equity in 2007, it is very possible that power would still have remained in Abia North till now. Such a development would have been counter-productive as other zones would have felt marginalized in their own state. I enjoin governor Ikpeazu to be as gentlemanly as is predecessors by ensuring that power moves back to Abia North in 2023”.
Presently, there are subtle moves by people from Abia South where the governor comes from to retain the governorship seat even as some elements from Abia Central are also angling to take over from the incumbent.