Ebonyi Equity Charter: The Demand For A Trustworthy Leader In 2015

As young as Ebonyi State is, especially when compared with other five states born the same day on 1stOctober, 1996, it remains arguable that Ebonyi is not above or at least competes with the others in developmental prioritization, exceptional leadership-driven economy and frugality in fiscal generation and management.

Ebonyi was created by late General Sani Abacha alongside Ekiti, Gombe, Nassarawa and Zamfara States. 18 years old, from which 14 have been under democratic governments, Ebonyi has not been so lucky in terms of true dividends of democracy. However, this is not an attempt to compare Ebonyi with other peer states. It is neither an attempt to belittle the efforts of the past democratic governments including a founding father of the state who was anointed by a former President of Nigeria to pilot the affairs of the state.

Ebonyi's creation came long after the demise of Dr. Francis Akanu Ibiam. Prominent among the founding fathers was Gov. Martin Elechi and other elders. Gov. Elechi, therefore, was believed to have been quite aware of the reasons for the long struggle for the state creation which culminated in several denials from the Old Anambra, Imo, Enugu and Abia states, as well as total marginalization of the Old Afikpo and Old Abakaliki Divisions. Afikpo was part of Imo state when the Igboland had only Imo and Anambra states, then it was carved in the creation of Abia and then in Ebonyi. Abakaliki had its journey to Ebonyi through Anambra, Cross River and Enugu states.

Afikpo and Abakaliki which are the two main components of the state had no infrastructure of any kind. There was no water, roads, medical services and facilities or electricity, and education was a nightmare. The state had nothing modern to reckon with. Farming, for which the Abakaliki and Afikpo Divides were renowned, was locally operated and thus yielded very little for the economic being of the local people. Moreover, the sharing system of political positions and appointments were characterized by injustice, oppression and denials.

I, like thousands of Ebonyians, was moved by the level of positive reactions from a publication on page 12 Vol. 10 no. 09 of a Southeast regional newspapers of St. Theresa Catholic Cathedral Parish called Citizens' Advocate. The article entitled: “The Bridger Ebonyians Want in 2015”, was a product of one of the strongest political pressure group in Ebonyi known as Social Justice Advocacy (SJA).

The article had, since its publication, been a source of discussion among Ebonyi people including the Catholic Bishops, youth groups and politicians in the state. In the said article, spokesman of SJA, Ekuma Elija Igwe, made a very valid case for equity, justice and fairness in the governance of the state. In his analytical approach, he posited that after the creation of Ebonyi, a political slogan and arrangement appeared on the political timetable of the state. The arrangement, he said, was in a document known as Ebonyi charter of equity which primarily harped on the rotation of the state governorship position amongst the three senatorial districts of Ebonyi North, South and Central, but without being specific on which district to produce the first Governor and so on.

Further analyzing and scrutinizing the present political equation in the state, Igwe maintained that Ebonyi South had occupied the position of deputy governor for five consecutive times i.e. Dr. Emmanuel Isu from 1999 to 2001, Dr. Chigozie Ogbu from 2001 to 2003, then from 2003 to 2007, then from 2007 to 2011 and Engr. Dave Umahi from 2011 till date.

Accordingly, he averred, only Dr. Isu was from the Afikpo block while the others were from Ohaozara axis. He recalled how late Dr. Francis Akanu Ibiam supported the election of the first Executive Governor of the Old Abia State, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu who is an Ohaozara man now in Ebonyi state. Added to this, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim is also from the Ohaozara block. “The Afikpo block should be supported to produce the next Governor of Ebonyi state in line with the charter of equity and mutual brotherly understanding,” he opined.

In his search for a capable and detribalized Ebonyian who “can save the state from collapsing into the river with the present unity bridge”, Igwe identified an Afikpo born social crusader, an established academia, a public manager and administrator of both national and international repute, a human right activist and a politician of integrity, Dr. Haroun Ogbonnia Ajah (Ocho Udo 1 and Nze Nna Nyeri Ugo 1 of Afikpo), as the man who will lead Ebonyians to the Promised Land from 2015.

“The Ebonyians want a fellow who will deliver the dividends of democracy and balance the equity that is lacking in the polity up till date, a person that can implement budgets and be prudent in the management of public wealth and funds, and above all, enhance the unity that eluded the people leading to insecurity and lack of trust among the ethnic nationalities.”

“Dr. Ajah is peoples' power personal person who can manage the peoples' mandate well and equally restore prudence, accountability, equal rights and justice to the entire Ebonyians. There may be other personalities for this rating, but a bird at hand is worth more than millions in the bush. Ebonyians demand for a true Bridger in 2015, it is never over until all is correct.” Igwe concluded.

Dr, Ajah was appointed by the then Executive Governor of Abia State, Dr. Christopher Ogbonnaya Onu as a Director, Abia Health Foods Limited under the Chairmanship of Dr. Gensha Amuta. He was appointed by the former President Olusegun Obasanjo as a member Board of Trustees of Abuja National Mosque to represent the Southeast geopolitical zone. He was once the Chairman of Itim Ward, State delegate and national delegate of the National Republican Convention (NRC) between 1990 and 1993. He was also a hard working founding father of Ebonyi state creation movement and donated his office and facilities for the use of the Movement in the old Abia State.

He has contested the seat of the Federal House of Representatives four times in an effort to bring genuine development and effective representation to the Afikpo North/South Federal Constituency in the defunct Democratic Party of Nigeria (DPN), All Peoples Party (APP) and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He equally served as the Ebonyi State Secretary of All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in 2002 and 2003 and was a member in the State PDP campaign committee which delivered power to the current Governor Chief Martin Elechi.

He is a lover and cherisher of Ndigbo agenda, a national interest mover and an ardent supporter of the current leadership at the state and national levels.

The first democratically elected governor of the state, Dr. Sam Ominyi Egwu, was from the Ebonyi North Senatorial District. It was quite clear that power will either shift to Ebonyi Central or Ebonyi South. Gov. Martin Elechi is from the Central. And the Abuja political bloc then, saw it that way and backed him for the position. Remember that he came from outside the Ebonyi White House. That is to say, he was not a state government functionary.

So, this means that the rotational system of the governorship position has been in order. The greatest implication of this assertion is that after his second tenure, he should work to hand over to a successor from the Ebonyi South Senatorial District.

The distribution of other positions to the senatorial districts should be equal and should be based on merits, not merely on party considerations and chameleonic loyalty. Ebonyi should enjoy unity in diversity, thus every political, religious and development-driven school of thought must be accommodated and carried along. Elechi's victory since 2007, apart from being divinely supported was from the sweat of many political groups and individuals. Groups like Afikpo Divisional Solidarity Movement (ADSM), Solidarity Network of Nigeria (SNN), Ebonyi Youths for Democracy (EYD), amongst others disposed both human and financial capacities for the Elechi-Umahi victory.

In an online report on NaijaObserver titled Contemporary Ebonyi politics: In Ebonyi, It's Season of Endorsements, Benjamin Nworie wrote that as the electioneering period was fast approaching, a litany of endorsements has continued to dominate the political scene. Such groups as Goodluck to Goodluck Jonathan (G2G) 2015 Project with its State Coordinator, Chief Okey Oti, Ebonyi Youths Assembly (EYA) with its leader, Comrade Chinedu Ogah, Ebonyi Concerned Youth Forum (ECYF) with its President, Mr. Ekene Igwe and the Ezza Peoples Assembly (EPA) with its President, Mr. Achiwoge Nwudenyi, are in the forefront in the political scheming ahead 2015.

The thing of it all is that Ebonyians believe in power rotation amongst the three senatorial districts of the state. The North and Central have had their turns respectively. It is now the turn of the South. So any attempt to hand over power to the Ezza minority of the Ebonyi South senatorial zone, as presumed by some insiders within the government circle, will mean an orchestrated ploy to undermine the effort of late elder statesman and founding father of Ebonyi State, late Ezeogo, Dr. Francis Akanu Ibiam. Afikpo people deserve it and Dr. Ajah is the PDP stalwart and chieftain who the cap fits.

Muhammad Ajah is a writer, author, advocate of humanity and good governance based in Abuja.

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Articles by Muhammad Ajah