2015: Should Senator Abaribe be Trusted with Abia Governorhip Mandate?
By Ezenwa Amaechi
The 2015 general elections are around the corner. In fact, politicians are almost putting final touches to their consultations with stakeholders across the federation. In Abia state, the die is cast; many people have thrown their hats into the ring for the governorship position. Among them are those who have held political offices since 8 years now. Some of them have underperformed but still want to be elevated to the governorship seat in defiance of preference for those with integrity and capacity to build on what is on ground.
There is a no doubt that all eyes are set on Abia state to elect a successor who will build on the modest achievements of the Gov. Theodore Orji led administration. Looking at the antecedents of those itching to emerge governor, it is clear that Senator Enyinnaya Harcourt Abaribe has become a reference point on how a representative abandoned his people.
In 1999, the 'all knowing and mighty' Abaribe sabotaged the interest of the Ukwa/ Ngwa people to back Arc. Dan Nwankwo for the governorship position and defected to the Chief Orji Uzor Kalu camp to become deputy governor. Within three months of being elected, he started fighting his boss and escaped being impeached. This led to Ukwa/Ngwa people rallying round to save their 'prodigal son'; Abaribe. In 2003, he resigned as deputy governor and soon led the Ukwa/ Ngwa bloc on a wild goose chase of contesting for governor under All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) with the Otu-Onu (Just Once) slogan. Abaribe led his Ukwa/Ngwa people to a political war in 2003, a war he knew was unjustified and caused deaths, maiming and sorrows to many individuals and families. Ask the Igbodiegwu Alozies and the Achiboy Duke Agbaghigba who got shot by Ex-Gov. Orji Uzor Kalu's security when he blocked the convoy of the latter at Arungwa junction on the Enugu — Port Harcourt Expressway , among others families. Abaribe was advised from the highest quarters never to leave PDP but chose to drag his people into a needless political war which he led, causing sorrow and losses to his own people. The Olusegun Obasanjos and Emmanuel Adaelus of this world are still alive to confirm this.
Abaribe has been at the senate where he serves as the spokesman, yet the federal roads; Aba – Ikot Ekpene highway and Port Harcourt road in his constituency are impassable. The Aba water scheme has been lying waste since God knows when. What can the Ukwa/ Ngwa people remember Abaribe for? Is it the billions of Naira donated to him by the Ukwa/ Ngwa people at home and Diaspora in 2003? Is it for arming her youths with guns for elections? Is it for sabotaging the governorship ambition of Ukwa/ Ngwa aspirants like Arc. Dan Nwankwo in 1999 and Elder Iheanacho Okezie Orji in 2007? In fact, Abaribe has caused pains and sorrow to Ukwa/Ngwa people and has been rejected. His governorship ambition cannot fly. Abaribe has been in the habit of sabotaging any governorship aspirant from the Ukwa/Ngwa area believing that he will be first man from the area to emerge Abia governor.
Common sense dictates that when a public officer performs poorly, he should not force himself on the people but rather give way for others. And this explains why many Ukwa/ Ngwa people have been calling on Senator Abaribe to drop his ill-fated governorship aspirant and support a more acceptable candidate from his area, but he has chosen to be the fly that goes to the grave with the corpse.
To compound matters, Abaribe is arrogant and selfish. He sees himself as the only Ukwa/ Ngwa qualified to be governor in 2015. He has failed to understand the damage he has caused the Ukwa/Ngwa people since he was elected deputy governor in 1999 to his almost 8 years at the National Assembly. He still believes that he is the best thing that has ever happened to the Ukwa/ Ngwa clan. There is no doubt that Abaribe's constituency, Abia South is one of the most poorly represented senatorial zones in Nigeria. Residents of Aba, the commercial city of Abia state have asked why Abaribe can't attract the attention of the federal government to the dilapidated state of the Aba – Ikot Ekpene highway and the Port Harcourt road in the city. Why would Abaribe always regale us with tales of how he is the only governorship aspirant who President Goodluck Jonathan knows by name? Abaribe wines and dines with President Jonathan, yet his Abia South Senatorial zone boosts of the one of the highest number of unemployed youths and lack of access roads in the federation? Even his native Ohuru community in Obingwa LGA has no electricity for a long time now. The simple truth is that the people are tired of Abaribe deviousness.
Or what can one say of a so called senator whose major achievement is to publish the list people he claimed to have empowered with N10, 000 and N20, 000 handouts during weddings, burials, payment of house rents, child naming ceremonies and settlement of hospital bills. A look at some of the Constituency newsletters published by Abaribe reveals the list of people who sought assistance from him arranged in batches against their problems. For instance, Mr. A got N10, 000 to settle the hospital bill of his sick wife, Mr. B got N20, 000 for the burial ceremony of his father; Mr. C got N20, 000 assistance to pay house rent. There are many public office holders who have given more financial support to their constituents but have not gone to the extent of publishing their names like Abaribe has continued to do. A constituent who got the N20, 000 assistance for the burial ceremony of his father four months after the event was surprised that the Senator listed his name among the people he has empowered. He regretted collecting the 'empowerment handout' and almost returned it but was stopped by party members.
Abaribe and the few people waiting for crumbs from his table must be told that the renewed image laundering he embarked upon cannot and will not change what we know about him. He has started buying cars for people, tricycles and motorcycles for people across the six LGAs of Abia South. Beneficiaries of such Greek gifts should collect them and ignore him because this is the reward of their labour for supporting him as a disloyal deputy governor and the Senate for two terms. For a long time ago, he has integrity he claims to have. The mere mention of his name as a governorship aspirant anywhere in Abia state has continued to generate arguments on how he disappointed the people who stood by him.
The question of whether Abaribe should be trusted with a governorship mandate becomes imperative due to the fact that the popular acclaim across the federation is to elect people friendly governors who will build on the foundation of their predecessors; not those will cause crisis in their state with their all knowing attitude. Each time Abaribe's name is mentioned; arrogance, selfishness, all knowing attitude, politics with bitterness, tyranny and vindictiveness readily comes to mind. There is no doubt that Abaribe is angling for the governorship seat to settle scores with some stakeholders who have been averse to his style of politics. Abia state cannot afford to entrust power to a governorship aspirant who will not hesitate to tell her elders to go to hell when they differ on opinions. Our dear senator has at many times; challenged respected Ukwa/ Ngwa elders such as Dr. Emmanuel Adaelu to go to hell because they disagreed with him. I'm afraid that Abaribe as governor cannot wait to tell illustrious Abia sons like Chie Adolf Wabara, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, Elder Emma Adaelu, Onyema Ugochukwu, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, Dr. Anagha Ezeikpe, Joshua Ogbonnaya, Joe Irukwu and others to shut up and do their worse if they disagrees with him. Is this the type of character who wants to become governor? God forbid.
A popular maxim says, 'Once beaten twice shy'. Abia people have learnt enough lessons the likes of Abaribe and are not prepared to take the risk of entrusting a governorship mandate on him. Majority of Abians argue that Gov. Theodore Orji has brought peace by uniting all political stakeholders and laid the foundation for a successor to take the state to the next level. What is need now is to elect a successor who is level headed and ready to build on the foundations laid. Surely, Abaribe does not fit into the type of successor Abians want in 2015. He is bound to rekindle another war between the Ukwa/ Ngwa people and their Old Bende brothers.
Above all, Abaribe does not have patience, stability and discipline to be a governor. In 2003, he contested for governorship seat against his own boss who was on his first term and thereby caused attacks and antagonism against his Ukwa/Ngwa people. He went to Court and compromised his case within few weeks. In 2007, he printed posters for governorship and stepped down for the senate after compromising and being compromised. Abaribe is so angry with some sections of Abia State that he is threatening to feed fat on the ancient grudge he bears that section and their leaders. Let Abaribe step down for an aspirant who has no enemy to pursue and can build bridges of friendship, peace, unity and progress in Abia State, even in the country at large.
Abia state needs peace, progress and unity and not the continuation of fight between Abaribe and his maverick boss, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu whom he is rumoured to have settled with to pursue on common enemy in the person of Gov. Theodore Orji and only to go back to the trench again very soon.
Abia state and Ukwa/Ngwa people have moved to Canaan as led by Ochendo. But Abaribe is still in Egypt. With all these, one can see that Abaribe is only grandstanding; he is not even contesting the governorship position. All he is trying to do is to see if he can go back to the senate to become the deputy senate president. Abaribe's luck has carried him too far, 2015 remains the final date for him to occupy any elective position. Abia state wants a humble and listening person as governor; certainly not the belligerent Abaribe.
Ezenwa Amaechi, a public affairs commentator, writes from Aba, Abia State.
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