General Ihejirika Joins Abia Guber Race


Indications have emerged that immediate past Chief of Army Staff, General Azubuike Onyeabor Ihejirika may have joined the race to succeed governor of Abia State, Chief Theodore Orji .

Orji's is serving out his second term, and is expected to leave office on May 29, 2015.

Colourful posters of the retired army general have flooded major streets of Umuahia, the state capital.

The colourful posters urged Ihejirika “to come and do more for the people of Abia State.” It bore the flag and logo of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), suggesting that the retired army general might pitch his tent with PDP..

Born February 13, 1956, Ihejirika is from Ovim, Isikwuato council in Abia North senatorial zone.

Friends and political associates of the retired general told that the Ihejirika was banking on zoning, a huge war chest, and his contacts in the Presidency to win the governorship contest.

Chief Uzor Kalu who was governor between 1999 and 2007 is from Igbere, Abia South senatorial zone. Orji, the incumbent governor is from Umuahia, the heart of Abia central senatorial zone.

The retired army chief is said to be close to Governor Orji, and might be banking on the governor's support to pick the PDP ticket and win next year's governorship duel.

Ihejirika is also said to be buoyed by the political exploits of some retired service and military chiefs.

His associates mention Olusegun Obasanjo, Ihejirika's former boss in the army engineering corps, who retired as a four-star general and was later elected president for two terms.

They cite Murtala Nyako, a former Chief of Naval Staff, who is the current governor of Adamawa State, and Late Mohammed Lawal, a retired Commodore who was elected governor of Kwara State.

Ihejirika's associates are also quick to point to Dieprieye Alamieyiesigha, a former Navy officer who emerged governor of Bayelsa State, and Olabode George, a retired Navy chief, and influential chieftain of PDP, particularly in the south-west.

In 2012, Ihejirika's former colleague in the army, Gen Charles Airhiavbere won the PDP ticket in Edo State and contested the governorship election but lost to Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.

Appointed Chief of Army Staff in September 2010, Ihejirika became the second Igbo to head the Nigerian Army nearly 50 years after his Abia kinsman, late General Aguiyi Ironsi held a similar office.

Holder of the third highest national honour of Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR), Ihejirika is the second Igbo alive to be decorated a three-star Army General after Lt. Gen. Chikadibia Obiakor.

Ihejirika became the most tested army chief since the Nigeria civil war no thanks to the campaign of violence by Boko Haram insurgents.

Also under the retired army chief, Nigeria's military spending tripled crossing the N1 trillion mark in 2012, making Ihejirika one of the richest army chiefs in Nigerian history.

In January 2014, however, President Goodluck Jonathan effected sweeping changes in the military, sacking Ihejirika and other service chiefs.