As the clock winds down to the 2023 general elections, Abia is one of the states that their Governor will certainly hand over to a successor on the 29th of May 2023.
Speculations are therefore rife on who the cap would fit. However the pendulum swings one thing is certain that Abians are desirous for a remarkable change from the status quo. They yearn for a Governor that will possibly take the state to greater heights.
A team of public Affairs analyst went to town to ascertain the feelings of the People with regards to 2023 and the likely successors. The analysis is in no particular order.
1: Dr.Alex Chioma Otti OFR
Dr.Alex Otti is a former Group Managing Director of Diamond Bank Plc. He was the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) in 2015 and 2019 where he lost on both occasions, to Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu Ph.D.
In August 2020, Dr. Otti said he was Joining the APC for the good of His people, saying “We must always put the people First ”
Otti promised to tackle insecurity, decayed infrastructure, unpaid salaries and pensions, unemployment, endemic poverty among other Challenges when he is elected Governor.
The supporters are of the opinion that, with his experience in the private sector, he will be the best bet to get Abia working. However, Otti carries the baggage of distrust and vindictiveness, especially, on his perceived hardline posture against Ikpeazu. It doesn’t seem that the Ngwa people will easily forgive him.
2: Dr. Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah OON.
Dr. Uchechukwu Ogah is the current Minister of State Mines and Steel Development. The Banker turned oil Magnet is an entrepreneur. He is the President and chief executive officer (CEO) of Masters Energy Group, a business corporation with over 15 subsidiaries.
The Man with the Midas Touch, as he is fondly called by his supporters, joined APC in 2017 and in November 2018. He won the Gubernatorial primaries and was the parties Candidate for the 2019 Governorship election which he lost to the incumbent after pulling over 100,000 votes.
Ogah enjoys the support of the youths, especially, from the Old Bende Bloc, who have benefited from his philanthropy. He has never hidden his desire to industrialize Abia when he is made the Governor of Abia state. The fear for his emergent is stemmed on the speculation of likely disagreements among key stakeholders of APC. It is believed that the likes of Orji Kalu, Otti, and Ikechi Emenike may not allow an Ogah candidate to emerge from their party.
3: Mr.Obinna Eze Oriaku
The name Obinna Oriaku came into the political limelight in Abia in June 2015, when Dr.Okezie Ikpeazu made him the Special Adviser Economic Management and Finance.
As a technocrat coming from a first Generation Bank, he hit the ground running when he stopped the 19 sub-treasuries from handling the payment of pensions in the state, instead, he introduced the automated bank payment system that obviously didn’t go well with some top civil servants who surreptitiously benefitted from the analogue payment system. He was known for introducing many landmark reforms which remain largely unimplemented which would have helped the state in recovery.
Obinna proved, while in the Government of Ikpeazu, to have a deep knowledge of the management of public accounts. However, his versed understanding of the Economy of Abia State is also his greatest undoing as he is not well-loved by a top bureaucrat who believes that he ” put sand into their garri.” For instance, sometimes in 2015, he revealed that “Abia was suffering from over-bloated wage bill which would require a salary committee to checkmate the issues of Ghost workers and double payment of government workers.” While the policy led to the recovery of huge sums of money, to the tone of 500m monthly for the State, it equally brought so many enemies to Mr. Oriaku.
Oriaku joined APC in 2020 and has insisted that “for Abia to move forward, there should be a paradigm shift from what is obtainable today to a template that will breed Development.”
His supporters, which cut across the elites and the progressive youths, have insisted that he is better experienced having been an inner part of the system. Insisting that his kind of personality, with courage, confidence, and financial intelligence, is what the State needs now instead of neophytes.
4: Engr.Enyinnaya Nwafor
Enyinnaya Nwafor is not a new name in Abia political landscape. He is the Son of a former Deputy Governor of the state (H.E. Dr. Chima Nwafor)
The Umuojima born philanthropist is the Chairman, Chief Executive Officer of Rock Waters Construction Company. He also seats on the board of many companies.
Nana, as he is fondly called, is a very good friend of the Governor. As he has done several road projects between 2015 and today.
His supporters are of the view that the level of infrastructural decay in the State requires a man like Nana who would replicate the feat achieved by the Governor of Ebonyi state who is also an Engineer.
Nana is loved by so many youths, farmers, and civil servants who constantly receive his fertility improved seedlings and cash gifts during Christmas and farming periods. However, one of Nana’s challenges to the coveted position, observers believe, is his misunderstanding with his erstwhile confidant and friend Chinedum Orji.
5. Prof Gregory Ibe.
Professor Ibe is the Vice-Chancellor of Gregory University Uturu.
The Isuikwuato born educationist has insisted that he possesses the right quality at this time to lead the state to its economic boom.
In one of his series, why I want to be governor, he said that “the negligence and the alienation of the masses, especially youth, from the affairs of the state have induced unconscious biases. These have engendered dichotomy and false dualism of them and we, the rest of us, have differentiated the government from the governed.
These misgivings have stimulated a few prevalent street parlances like “they don’t care about us”, “vagabonds in power”, and “pen criminals”, who ascribe to public officeholders.”
On how his government will improve health –human lives – Prof. Ibe said thus:
“People want to be alive. Through my human development plan, we will expand their opportunities to avoid premature death. We will ensure a healthy environment and ensure they maintain a healthy lifestyle. They will receive quality medical care, and we’ll ensure they attain the highest possible standard of physical and mental health.”
On how his government will improve education –access to knowledge – Prof. Ibe said: “Access to knowledge is a critical determinant of long-term well-being and is essential to individual freedom, self-determination, and self-sufficiency.”
He noted that education is critical to people’s genuine freedom to decide what to do and who to be.
Professor One, who is an Internationally acclaimed Consultant is loved for his lofty contributions in Education and other spheres of the economy in Nigeria and Abia State.
6. Chief Gabriel Chinenye Onyendilefu JP, KSA , FCNA.
Sir G. C. Onyendilefu is a well-known name in Abia State having been the longest-serving Accountant General in Abia State. He retired as a Permanent Secretary and was appointed as the Commissioner of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs after his failure to unseat Hon. Darlington Nwokocha as the member representing Isiala Ngwa South/ North Federal Constituency. in 2019.
Onyendilefu is well known for his financial astuteness and depth in Abia Finances. He is a close friend to former Governor T.A. Orji and an analyst who believes that in an event of a consensus for the Abia Central to produce the successor of Governor Ikpeazu, that T.A. Orji may be better disposed to an Onyendilefu that he can trust.
- 7. Rt.Hon Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji (Ikuku)
Chinedum Orji is the first Son of the immediate past Governor of Abia state Distinguished Senator TA Orji (Ochendo Global )
He is the 11th Speaker of the Abia State House Of Assembly and the member Representing Umuahia Central State Constituency.
Ikuku, as he is fondly called by admirers is perceived to have played a vital role in the choice of the incumbent Governor of Abia State Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu Ph.D.
He is seen by many Abians as the de facto Governor as he does not hide his influence on the Governor.
A lot has been said about his desire to replace his friend Dr. Ikpeazu, an allegation he has often denied. But recently, it became obvious as he has rekindled the “ikuku Apostles” political structure that criscross the 17 local government areas of the state.
If there is no interference by the national leadership of the party on who becomes the flag bearer of PDP in Abia in 2023, ikuku will likely emerge as the governorship candidate as their family house at Azikiwe Road is where the loyalty of many Abia politicians domiciled.
They are at his beck and call and will support his ambition as he is virtually in charge of the party structure in the state.
However, the majority of Abians, especially the apolitical folks are not disposed to an Ikuku emergence as they decry the stranglehold of the Theodore Orji family to the political ruins of Abia State.