In his Nw Year message to the people and residents of Abia State, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), High Chief Ikechi Emenike sent a poignant message.

He declared 2023 as the year of liberation for Abia. Emenike left no one in doubt about his avowed mission to extricate God’s Own State from the vicious grip of evil forces that have stifled its development.

The Rescue and Develop Abia (RADA) mission is already on course. With the inauguration of the Ikechi Emenike Campaign Council for the 2023 governorship election on December 7, 2022, the Abia APC took a firm step in its rescue mission.

The main Abia opposition party had, ab initio, declared that Abia was ripe for change. And since the commencement of the 2022/23 election season, Abia APC has been engaged in assembling and fitting its battle gears in readiness for what observers have projected to be the mother of all political battles in Abia.

Yes, Abia APC under its indefatigable leader, Emenike, is set to wage a political battle which would eventually free Abia from the bad governance of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). According to APC, the ravenous governance which the ruling party has perpetuated for over two decades has reached its expiry date.

High Chief Emenike has continued to provide the needed leadership and direction for the liberation movement. He has consistently insisted that time was up for the bad managers holding Abia down. While inaugurating his 1,740- member Campaign Council, Emenike reinforced the quit notice he had already issued to the ruling PDP, vowing to flush out the swarm of locusts from Abia’s seat of power, willy-nilly.

To underscore the significance of the Campaign Council inauguration, party faithful turned out en masse, giving the event a hue of a campaign rally. The party’s campaign office along Azikiwe road Umuahia was not only filled to the brim inside and outside, but the adjoining streets also overflowed with people.

The governorship flag bearer described the members of the campaign council as “ambassadors of APC in all the polling units of Abia”. He, therefore, charged them to represent the party very well and work very hard to achieve resounding victory for APC in Abia come 2023.

Indeed, the Campaign Council members, who are rightly regarded as the party’s foot soldiers in the 2022/23 electioneering, were painstakingly selected, which a party source, said accounted for the slight delay in the inauguration. Emenike had promised to make the membership of his campaign council “comprehensive and inclusive”.

The Campaign Council is headed by Among those in the list are retired professional soldiers – six retired army generals and other ranks, who were also present at the inauguration ceremony. Like all well meaning Abians, the retired infantry and combatant generals have joined forces with the APC to save Abia from further degeneration.

Some of the generals include former GOC 3 Armoured Division, Jos, Maj Gen Jack Okechukwu Nwaogbo(rtd), former GOC 2 Division, Ibadan, Maj Gen Chinedum Abraham, former Commandant, Army School of Infantry Jaji, Maj Gen Charles Ogbonna Okoro, and former Director of Training, Nigeria Army, Brig Gen Victor Nnorom. Former Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Azubuike Ihejirika, who has long identified with APC, was listed among the 13 vice-chairmen of the Campaign Council.

There was no mistaking the battle cry as party leaders, chieftains and stalwarts expressed their disenchantment at the state of affairs in Abia.

Emenike said that the time has come for all well meaning Abians to rise up and join in the liberation movement to free their state from the hands of those running it down. But the governorship hopeful, who has seen it all in Abia politics, is not under any illusion that the battle to free Abia from the vicious grip of PDP would not be an easy one. This is because the ruling party has over the past two decades entrenched itself in the political space of Abia and has spread its adventitious roots across the state.

Nonetheless, the dogged fighter bearing the banner of APC liberation struggle in Abia remains unfazed. Emenike believes by uprooting the ruling party from Abia government house in 2023 his mission of developing Abia would begin in earnest. He expressed unbridled optimism that “if 1,740 people (in his campaign team) join hands together and work the job of liberating Abia will be done”.

“Let the work begin. We must work as one to achieve victory,” he declared, adding that “our mission, aspiration is for the development of Abia (and) God will help us lift Abia up. What we’re doing is a divine mission”.

Emenike’s optimism about the end of PDP hegemony in Abia is infectious. He has been working hard, digging deep, strategising and restrategizing to rally Abians across party, professional and religious divides to join the rescue mission.

For leaders, chieftains and indeed all genuine members of Abia APC, all hands are already on deck. The Deputy governorship candidate, Rev.(Mrs.) Gloria Akara, who also doubles as the first deputy chairman of the campaign council, exhorted the foot soldiers and all party faithful to remain steadfast and dedicate their energy, time and resources “to drive the wheel” of the liberation movement.

“We are ready. The rescue and develop Abia(RADA) movement is not designed to stop. We’re going to continue until victory is assured,” she declared.

Abia APC chairman, Dr Kingsley Ononogbu said that the party would not leave any stone unturned to make success of its 2023 Abia project.

He explained that the members of the campaign council were carefully selected and scrutinized and found to be “trusted worthy soldiers” to fight the battle of the ballot box in all nooks and cranny of Abia. He urged the foot soldiers to be self-motivated and “go out there and fight for the rescue of Abia”. “We are very determined to rescue and develop Abia,” he asserted.

On his part the Director General of the Campaign Council, High Chief Uche Ogboso, has continued to manifest palpable enthusiasm for the political battle ahead. He said that Abians and well wishers of the state were already expectant of the new Abia promised by APC.

He noted that the inauguration of the Campaign Council “marks the beginning of the march to liberate Abia”. He pledged that all the members of the Campaign Council would traverse the nooks and cranny of Abia to seek votes for the party. Ogboso, who is well grounded in Abia politics, echoed Emenike’s stance that the rot in Abia, orchestrated by PDP, has made the job of electioneering easy for the main opposition party. He likened Abia to a low hanging ripe fruit waiting to be plucked, adding that APC would surely do the plucking.

Party chieftains and stakeholders who spoke at the event were in one accord in pledging their unalloyed support Abia APC governorship candidate. They expressed their commitment to work and ensure that their party emerged victorious to take control of Abia.

Former Minister of Labour and Productivity, Hon Emeka Wogu, declared that “I am with him(Emenike), saying that “the only person who can make the needed change in Abia is High Chief Ikechi Emenike”.

Former Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly, Hon Martin Azubuike also declared that “we are fully in support of High Chief Emenike to deliver Abia” which has been left in the hands of bad managers for too long. He called on all Abians to rally round APC and its governorship candidate to free the state from the asphyxiating stranglehold of PDP.

“If we give this man (Emenike) the seat of power, Abia will be well and its economy will boom because he will use the state’s resources for its development,” he said.

The APC senatorial candidate for Abia South, Hon Blessing Nwagba, who spoke on behalf of the women folk of Abia APC, assured the party that Abia women would be fully mobilised to key into the liberation movement of APC.

She stated that “High Chief Emenike is worthy of the governorship ticket” of Abia APC hence the party women “will go home and canvass for votes to ensure his victory in 2023”.

The party has, indeed, recognised the importance of women and youths in the forthcoming electoral battle. These two groups grossed the highest numbers in the 17 Directorates of the Abia APC Campaign Council with 65 members in the Directorate of Women Mobilisation and 135 members in the Directorate of Youth Mobilisation.

The enthusiasm of Abia APC members was palpable as they all expressed their willingness and readiness to double and redouble their efforts to achieve victory for their party. As Hon Azubuike put it, “this is the surest time” for APC to win control of Abia State and “we should not miss it”.

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