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ABIA LG POLL: CAN IKPEAZU RIGHT THE WRONGS?

Source: pointblanknews.com
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By Ebere Uzoukwa
It is a well known that Dr. Okezie Victor Ikpeazu rode on a tripartite

crest of equity, justice and fairness to become governor of Abia state. The

election of the first Abia governor of Ngwa extraction is undisputedly the

most keenly contested with endless but mind-threatening litigations. The

ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and some progressively-minded

stakeholders had argued and backed the zoning of its governorship ticket to

Abia south ahead of 2015 general elections. The unified stance of the party

was purposefully tailored to promote equity, justice and family hence an

Ngwa person from Abia south was protectively billed to clinch the ticket.

The gubernatorial ticket was later won by Dr. Ikpeazu though not without

permutations and high-powered political intrigues. It also took the

uncommon resilience of Ukwa-Ngwa people who as a matter of urgency and

necessity tagged Dr. Ikpeazu/PDP gubernatorial ticket “Ngwa Project” to

narrowly defeat Dr. Alex Otti, of the All Progressives Grand Alliance

(APGA) who unexpectedly showed enormous strength, sweeping the entire LGAs

in Abia north, Aba north and south LGAs as well as Umuahia south and

Ikwuano Umuahia LGAs. The people of Ukwa-Ngwa demonstrated a rare courage

and consensus painstakingly exemplified and displayed in the well organized

resilience to break the age-long ‘political marginalization’ and ensured

the realization of Dr. Ikpeazu’s governorship.

Upon taking over the mantle of leadership as governor of Abia state, Dr.

Ikpeazu began to showcase his qualities especially in the areas of

governance and political leadership. The ongoing infrastructural

transformation in Aba and other parts of the state, the economic and

entrepreneurial revolution, the sponsored campaign aimed at promoting

locally made-in-Aba products, the revival of moribund and ailing state

owned industries, the ongoing revolutionized agricultural scheme, the human

capacity development programmes such as Education for Employment(E4E) and

the ongoing transformation in the education sector are presently showing

signs of greatness as a new era evolves under Dr. Ikpeazu. Though still

engulfed with threatening litigations, Dr. Ikpeazu has sufficiently proven

his capacity to take Abia to higher heights.
Beyond infrastructural and socio-economic accomplishments, Dr. Ikpeazu also

appears ready and willing to demonstrate a rare political will and courage

to entrench a new democratic culture in the state. This is evidently

portrayed in the ongoing preparations for local government election in less

than two years he assumed office. The last council election took place in

Abia eight years precisely in 2008. The immediate past governor, Chief

Theodore Orji for whatever reason(s) delayed reconstituting the councils

democratically and ingloriously exited without conducting another council

election.  Under his administration, the 17 local government areas were

balkanized and regrettably reduced to non-productive entities. The former

governor conspired with his family and close allies to hijack the councils.

They criminally diverted allocations running into several billions and

overpopulated the workforce with unproductive elements mostly drawn ‘Ibeku

clan’ without recourse to due process and administrative procedure. They

mismanaged and corruptly destroyed the councils as they stirringly dished

out orders and directives from the comfort of their cozy offices in Umuahia

to the so-called TC chairmen who were merely stooges and administrative

robots. By so doing, Ochendo and his ‘men’ crippled the 17 council areas

and pitiably rendered them unproductive.
However, Dr. Ikpeazu’s plans to conduct council election appear to have

elicited fresh hope for possible revival of the councils. Yet, there are

still posers. Many Abians still doubt if Dr. Ikpeazu can ever muster the

‘political will’ and ‘sincerity’ to achieve the onerous task. Many are

still clutched to the notion that Dr. Ikpeazu is and remains part of the

system that decimated and destroyed the local government system in Abia.

Those upholding such belief may be 50% right and probably 50% wrong. This

may be largely substantiated as Dr. Ikpeazu was Ochendo’s ardent loyalist

and one of his son’s dreaded foot soldiers who paraded themselves as eleven

wise men. Dr. Ikpeazu enjoyed a privileged status in Ochendo’s government

and was deeply knowledgeable to most salient actions of that very

government. This is ultimately the reason his government is largely

perceived as a product or extension of Ochendo’s era hence his emergence as

the PDP candidate was politically midwifed by the former governor and his

son, Chinedu also known as Ikuku.
On the other hand, the proponent of that notion may be wrong as Dr. Ikpeazu

may have ‘disguised loyalty’ or ‘played the fool’ to grab power. A

political interpretation to Dr. Ikpeazu’s ‘good man role’ and loyalty to

Ochendo and his son dramatizes that simple adage that says” If you bend

down, you see Aba”. Dr. Ikpeazu’s roles in Ochendo’s government can hardly

be interpreted to portray, brand or suggestive of Ochendo’s elongated era.

Though he remains grateful to the former governor, his son, Ikuku and other

allied power players from Umuahia, the governor is, however,

constitutionally empowered to summon the needed political will to redesign

approaches to governance and rewrite the wrongs in the state.

While preparations for the council election intensify, many expect Dr.

Ikpeazu to assume certain steps aimed at sanitizing the system and to

dismantle Ochendo’s undemocratic template entrenched and promoted for

self-aggrandizement. He is also expected to remove all impediments that may

further destroy democracy at the local government level. In clear terms,

there will be guided limit to which the state or governor tampers with

council allocations. If not so, the scenario may be catastrophic as the

incoming council chairman, elected by the people, may within their

constitutional powers dismantle obstacles and encumbrances that may inhibit

their performances. Dr. Ikpeazu’s political future may be jeopardized or

shattered if that becomes the scenario.
Therefore, Dr. Ikpeazu should begin to rehearse and possibly acquaint

himself with the right democratic culture and administrative pattern to

harmoniously and purposefully relate with the incoming council chairmen. He

should realize that the 17 council areas will against the unconstitutional

practice begin to run fully on their individual strengths and

administrative wheels immediately the chairmen and councillors are sworn

into offices. The inglorious era of diversion of council funds and criminal

mortgage of their revenue nets will automatically cease for good. The

chairmen expectedly will run the councils by prudently deploying accruable

resources to provide basic and infrastructural needs of the rural dwellers.

They must be given freehand to deliver on their campaign promises within

their two-year tenure.
But, can Dr. Ikpeazu yield to this reform? Can he change the bad story? Can

the councils run independently under him? Has Dr. Ikpeazu upon assumption

of duty demonstrated the much expected political will suggesting a radical

departure from Ochendo’s days? Are Abians likely to experience a credible

council election that will provide a level playing ground to all political

parties? Is the governor ready to release council allocations as drawn from

the federation account? Is he ready to change the bad story Abia councils

with regard to hijacked revenue nets? Is he ready to sanitize the evidently

corrupt ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs by moderating

its overbearing influence and control on council areas? Or, is the election

a mere exercise aimed at re-packaging the transition committee system under

the pretenses of democracy? Is Dr. Ikpeazu sincerely entrenching a new

democratic culture in the third tier of government of Abia state? Is the

governor truly sincere to the people? Do he posses the political will to do

the right thing including offending Ochendo and Ikuku, his son, when it

becomes necessary to satisfy Abia people?
Well, only Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu and time will answer these nagging and

pertinent questions. But suffice to say that the governor has two options

staring at his face. The option of continuing with the old style and

secondly, dismantling the old, unproductive and corrupt system to free the

local government councils in the overall interest of Abia people. The

governor should patriotically champion the redemption and ultimate freedom

of these areas from the administrative hostage of the state with utmost

sincerity and honesty to further endear himself to the people. This should

begin with free, fair and acceptable council election scheduled for December

17.
Dr. Ikpeazu should appease Abians with good governance and utmost sincerity

in his official dealings as governor. It will be more charitable and

politically rewarding as the governor migrates to the side of the people

than remain in the good book of his political ‘godfathers’. He should

demonstrate the political will and sincerity in leadership by rewriting the

wrongs in the administration of local government in the state.

Ebere Uzoukwa, a media consultant writes from Umuahia.

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