Abia Guber Campaigns Cruising On ‘Zoning Formula’
THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has published the names of the governorship candidates of 10 political parties in Abia State in preparation for the February 28 gubernatorial election.
The candidates include the (Dr Okezie Victor Ikpeazu (PDP), Chief Anyim Nyerere (All Progressives Congress (APC)), Mr. Ogbuehi Mgbeahuru Dike (United Progressives Party (UPP)), Chief Ukoabasi Udensi, (Progressives People’s Alliance (PPA)) and Mr. Chikezie Gilbert (Independent Democrats).
Others are Mr. Uchechi Chuta (United Democratic Party (UDP)), Rev Obioma Onyeghala (All Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN)), Mr. Kelvin Nwozu (Citizens Progressive Party (CPP)), Sonday Isaac (People for Democratic Change (PDC)) and Dr. Alex Otti (All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA)).
Some of the candidates, particularly those of the PDP and APGA, have commenced intensive electioneering campaigns. Beyond the personal merits, or otherwise of the candidates and the popularity of their parties, what has become an important factor in the February election is the zone of origin. There is the belief in some quarters that the next governor should come from the Abia South Senatorial zone, which, unlike the Abia North and Abia Central zones, has not tested the ‘juicy fruit.’ While former governor, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, hails from the North, incumbent Governor Theodore Orji is from the Central Senatorial Zone.
Fielding candidates of Abia South zone, therefore, becomes a factor, which, proponents say is for equity, justice, fairness and orderly rotation of the state governorship slot among the three senatorial zones of the state.
Perhaps, it is on this score that the ruling PDP and opposition APC fielded Ikpeazu and Nyerere — both from the Abia South zone — as candidates; whereas other political parties showed what appears as insensitivity to this consideration in ‘selecting’ their candidates.
However, some critics observe that the issue of zoning the governorship position to Abia South is not constitutional, neither is it backed by any law federal/state, except that, in the “Abia Charter of Equity” formulated by the founding fathers of the state recommended the rotation of the office among the provinces. This was done before the creation of senatorial zones that replaced the old provinces.
It was largely in compliance with this zoning to the Abia South that Dr Uche Sampson Ogah, a popular guber candidate of the PDP, who hails from Abia North, lost the primaries to Dr Ikpeazu of the South.
Now that the stage is set for the guber election for which eight out of the 10 political parties fielded non-Abia South candidates as against the two candidates of PDP and APC from Abia South zone, it is left to the electorate to either authenticate or thrash the zoning formula.
The zoning formula, as variously argued, can produce incompetent candidates and discourage good hands to aspire to the highest office in the state. Even now, many argue Otti, the APGA candidate and immediate past group managing director/chief executive officer of Diamond Bank is a good material for the job, but his chances may be harmed by the fact that he does not come from the Abia South zone that has a major population of Abians called the Ukwa Ngwas.
Otti, in his determination to govern the state, has invoked his nativity theory, saying that though his parents were of Arochkwu in Abia North, they had settled in Ngwa land, in Nvosi, Isiala Ngwa South LGA, where he was born, grew up and perhaps adopted as his place of origin.
Nvosi in Isiala South LGA is also not in Abia South zone but in Abia Central hence, his election depends on his personal merit. Except for Rev. Obioma Onyeghala, a former student leader of Abia State University, who ex-governor Uzor Kalu appointed his Adviser immediately after graduation and who has twice contested the state guber elections, the other seven candidates, including Otti, are new comers to the race.
Consequently, they must work hard to sell their guber candidacy to the electorate, even as that depends on their financial capacity to prosecute the campaigns.