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Gov. Orji’s plan to impose candidates on Abia

Tension is gradually brewing in Abia state chapter of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) as the hitherto docile leadership and indeed members of the party in the state watch with discontentment as Gov. Theodore Orji and his son; Chinedum Orji a.k.a Ikuku who have both pranced the Abia political landscape over the years like African lions, advanced plans to impose a candidate for the party in the 2015 governorship election in the state.

This is not the end of discussion. While the senior Orji who prides himself as a “legacy” governor but has no single project he sited in the whole of the Ngwa axis of Abia Central District, hoodwinks the people into representing them at the senate next year when his tenure as governor expires, the younger Orji is being positioned to go to the House of Assembly where the post of Speaker has been reserved for him in advance.

The governor and his son have anointed Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, who just resigned as the Deputy General Manager, Aba zone of the Abia State Environmental Protection Agency, as their candidate for the party primaries. Ikpeazu who is said to have been empowered has begun consulting stakeholders of the party about his ambition. He has also declared his ambition to the party executives at his Obingwa LGA and Abia South zone, respectively.

There is no doubt that it was to actualize this imposition of candidate and for the governor and his overbearing son to go to the senate and the State House of Assembly that was behind the inauguration of the 11 member state congress committee.

The committee headed by Gov. Orji’s cousin and deputy chief of staff, Government House, Chief Charles Ogbonnaya comprised individuals and known acolytes of the governor such as former secretary to the state government, Mazi Donatus Okorie; Admin secretary of the party, Uzodinma Ugele; Tony Ezebuiro, state PDP deputy chairman, Chief Allen Nwachukwu; Obi Chimaobi; Chika Obike; Mrs Ngozi Eruba and Gov. Orji’s  man Friday, Chief Chijioke Nwakodo.

The Ogbonnaya led committee is meant to elect ad-hoc delegates who will do the bidding of the governor and his son to realize the plot of installing their anointed candidate as the PDP flag bearer at the November 29 party primaries and to give them easy route to their own planned destinations. Majority of the members of the committee hail from Umuahia and cannot pose any opposition to the governor and his son using the committee to achieve their objective of imposing a successor on the people of the state.

There was discontentment and confusion in the political firmament of the state some months ago when Ikpeazu who then was supporting the governorship ambition of his in law and former deputy governor, Acho Nwakanma, suddenly declared ambition to run for the same office.

Ikpeazu was still at Abuja where he went to discuss the issue with the governor and his son when it leaked back in Abia.

Before the Abuja meeting sometime in June, the plan to have Dr. Ikpeazu succeed Gov. Orji was hatched by his son, Chinedum who was said to have convinced his father that Dr. Ikpeazu was the only Ngwa man they can trust with power. Gov .Orji later sent for Ikpeazu asking him if his son has delivered a message to him. Ikpeazu replied that Chinedum told him that he wants to make him governor, but he will consider it. A livid Gov. Orji asked why Ikpeazu should sleep over an issue his Ukwa/Ngwa people are killing themselves over, directing the former ASEPA boss to “Go now and start working with my son, he will tell you what to do.”

Emboldened by the discussion with the governor and his son, Ikpeazu accompanied by one of the governor’s cousins, embarked on a journey to consult with some Abia elders living in Abuja. The trip was not pleasant for Ikpeazu as the said elders were said not to have been favourably disposed to have someone imposed on the state in 2015.

The confusion created by Ikpeazu’s trip so much heated up the polity in the state that Gov. Orji through his Chief Press Secretary, Charles Ajunwa denied adopting any candidate for the governorship election and stressed that whoever will emerge as the PDP flag bearer will be decided by all the stakeholders in the state. Ikpeazu himself made the same denial when he addressed the press in Aba as he arrived from Abuja.

In less than four or  six months after the rumour of his adoption by the governor and his son, Ikpeazu who is believed not to have the financial muscle to go for the governorship project, has resigned his position as the deputy general manager of the environmental agency and declared intention to run for the governorship position.

A close associate of Ikpeazu said he would have earlier tendered his resignation to pursue the governorship project but had to tarry to agree terms with the Gov. Orji and his son on what part they and their cronies will play in the new government.

As part of the deal, Ikpeazu if he emerges governor is to ensure that the governor’s son, Chinedu who wants to run for the Umuahia Central Assembly seat, becomes the Speaker of the incoming Abia State House of Assembly. The Congress committee led by Chief Charles Ogbonnaya has been mandated to ensure that no ranking member from the Umuahia /Ikwuano federal constituency where the Speakership seat is likely to be zoned to returns to the House in 2015 to make it easy for the governor’s son to emerge Speaker. The contraption is that Ikpeazu would be governor, Udechukwu Oko, the present Speaker of the State House of Assembly, deputy governor and Chinedum Orji (Ikuku), Speaker. According to the plan, after one year, what happened in Adamawa State recently will play out in Abia whereby both the governor and his deputy would be impeached on trumped-up charges and Ikuku will become the governor.

The deal to impose Ikpeazu as the PDP candidate is being greeted with rejection at several quarters in the state particularly in Obingwa council area where he hails from. It was gathered that Ikpeazu’s in-law and two-time former deputy governor of the state, Eric Acho Nwakanma, who got the former to leave his teaching job at the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUTH) to join politics is accusing Ikpeazu of betrayal.

Chief Nwakanma is not taking it lightly with his in-law, Ikpeazu. Nwakanma’s grouse is that he thought Ikpeazu as an in law who he assisted to become the Transition Committee chairman of Obingwa LGA during the administration of former Gov. Orji Uzor Kalu, was supporting him for the governorship position, only for Ikpeazu to turn around and declare interest in the race and the former deputy governor who felt so much hurt had vowed to fight to the last.

Nwakanma, who recently intensified his attacks on his former boss believing that would earn him the governorship automatic ticket from Gov. Orji, accused Ikpeazu of saying unprintable things about him which made the governor and his son to decline their support for him.

The governorship ambition of the two close friends and in-laws has threatened to tear the relationship between their spouses apart. Ikpeazu’s wife, Nkechi who is a sister to Nwakanma has already started quarrelling with the former deputy governor’s wife, Joy when the latter insisted that her husband (Ikpeazu) betrayed his i-n law. She was quoted as asking if it would be a crime if she becomes the First Lady of Abia State.

Other aspirants like Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, Chief Emeka Wogu and Senator Nkechi Nwaogu who have while they intensified their consultations, urged their supporters to remain calm as they have vowed not to allow governor to impose a candidate on the party and achieve his triple ambition in 2015.The plot by the governor to impose his successor, represent Abia Central at the Senate and also have his son as the Speaker of the state Assembly in 2015 is already causing ripples in the state chapter of the PDPPolitical analysts state that it amounts to playing god for the governor to want to represent Abia Central at the senate, determine who succeeds him while his son takes the Umuahia Central state Assembly seat.  According to this group, the best thing if Gov Orji was not greedy would have been for him to go to the Senate and leave the governorship seat open.

In the same breathe; tension is building at the Abia House of Assembly following alleged compilation of names of members who will be returned and those who won’t make it in 2015 by a kinsman of the governor. This is with a view to paving way for the governor’s son. Members of the Assembly are not happy with their Speaker, Hon. Ude Oko Chukwu who is rumoured to have been adopted as a “deputy governor in waiting” by the governor and his son. The members accuse Oko Chukwu of negotiating his way for the 2015 general elections without considering their interests. The general discontentment among members of the House is so high that an official of the Assembly who is very close to the Speaker has been assigned the responsibility of carrying the symbol of the House in the booth of his car when the Speaker is traveling. This is in a bid to forestall his impeachment

Ahead of the party primaries, It is clear that the peace which the party has enjoyed over a time is about to be sacrificed on the altar of greed by the Gov. Orji and his son. What will the governor tell people like Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, Senator Nkechi Nwaogu or Chief Emeka Wogu who had just resigned his Ministerial appointment to contest the governorship election? Will these people who have sacrificed a lot for PDP even when Gov Orji was in another party, allow him to have his way?  November 29 will tell.

It is now glaringly clear that Gov Orji’s futile opposition to the return of former Gov Kalu to PDP was not in the interest of the state as he had falsely made people to understand, but because since he would not be able to buy over Kalu as he has done to elders in the state, he is afraid the former governor would oppose some of the things he is doing in the party and the state at large without anybody saying anything.

The PDP national secretariat should not be carried away by the spurious claim of the governor that there is no opposition in Abia State. Other parties are waiting in the wings. It is when they allow the governor to impose a candidate on the party they would be able to know that people of the state need a clean break from the eight years misrule of the Abia by T.A Orji.

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