By John Nwoha

On March 11, 2023 voters in Abia State would have an opportunity to choose the next governor of the state. Going by the records of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the Abia electorate would make their choice from among the 18 governorship candidates fielded by the various political parties.

The political barometer has shown that of the 18 governorship contenders, the front runners include the candidates of the All Peoples Congress (APC), High Chief Ikechi Emenike; the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prof. Uche Eleazar Ikonne; All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Prof. Greg Ibe; Young Progressives Party (YPP), Engr. Enyinnaya Chima Nwafor and Labour Party (LP), Dr Alex Otti.

The rest are either viewed as surrogates being used as spoilers to mar the chances of strong contenders in their areas of strength or just hanging in to negotiate and collect money from the front runners.

In fact, the emergence of Chief Ikechi Emenike as the standard bearer of APC generated high level of interest to the extent that everyone is now clamouring for change. Drious groups of Abia stakeholders, who were hitherto indifferent to Abia politics, started coming out from their cocoons to mobilize and ensure the emergence of a good leader in the forthcoming governorship election in the state.

Emenike had emerged as the Abia APC governorship candidate from a seamless primary election held on Thursday, May 26, 2022, in Umuahia.

He is a journalist-turned politician, Chief Executive Officer of several companies, a development economist, political strategist, and entrepreneuer, who has equally played in the public service space without blemish. Many are thrilled and enthralled by his persona shaped by his uprightness, steadfastness and fairness. Many describe him as a man of integrity and impeccable character.

As Abians prepare to cast their ballots for their preferred governorship candidates on March 11, it is becoming clearer that the people are yearning for a change of government in the state because of the failure of the PDP which has been in power since 1999. The people would prefer any party, other than the PDP, to clinch power in the March gubernatorial election.

Feelers from across the state indicate that majority of Ndi Abia are favourably disposed to the candidature High Chief Emenike. He meets their expectations of a good leader after enduring successive disastrous administrations of PDP. By their assessments of the disposition, pedigree and capacities of the candidates, majority of the electorate seem Emenike fits the bill.

Abians see in him a perspicacious and independent-minded, dexterous manager who has the will, audacity and temerity to call the bluff, without pandering to the caprices of the ravenous cabal draining Abia’s resources. Emenike would definitely end the bazaar for the ‘let’s-share-the-money cabal’ that has held Abia down for decades. It is evident that he brims with sound ideas and political will to drive Abia’s development.

Deductions from Abia’s political observatory across the length and breadth of the state clearly indicate that many of the voters want Chief Ikechi Emenike to mount the saddle to implement his Rescue and Develop Abia (RADA) philosophy which currently resonating with Abians and residents across the state.

Majority of voters in Abia have expressed optimism that Emenike is the only candidate of choice who has the capacity to establish the new order Abia needs to grow. To the proponents of this school of thought, Emenike has no link with the old order, that is, the governments that have run the state since 1999. It is this set of discredited locusts that have brought the state almost to ruins and stagnation as a result of corruption, thereby leaving Abia in its current state of underdevelopment.

That was why Emenike, while accepting his victory during the Abia APC governorship primary, said: “Tell them the time of Abia has come. This state must go back and restore itself as God’s Own State. The era for devil has gone, the era of occultism has gone, and the era of underdevelopment has gone.”

From Arochukwu, to Ukwa, from Ikwuano to Umunneochi, from Aba to Ohafia, a gale of endorsements and adoptions has swept through the Abia political spectrum with prominent Abians voicing their choice and support for Emenike as result of his competence and integrity.

On Sunday, August 14, 2022, the people of Ukwa/Ngwa unanimously endorsed Emenike as their consensus governorship candidate in the state for the March 11 poll.

The endorsement was announced by Ukwa/Ngwa APC caucus from across the nine local government areas that make up the old Aba Division, during a meeting of the party in Umuahia.

Aside from endorsing Emenike, the APC leaders assured that they would embark on aggressive mobilization of the people of Ukwa/Ngwa across party lines to vote for the APC governorship flag bearer in the 2023 governorship poll.

 APC National Welfare Secretary, Barr. Friday Nwosu, a two- governorship contender in Abia, who led other party leaders of Ukwa/Ngwa to the meeting, said the people were desirous of enthroning a government that would sanitise Abia, which, he said, was in a state of decay.

 “The entire members of APC in Aba Division comprising the seven local government areas of Ngwa land and the two local government areas of Ukwa land hereby endorse and adopt High Chief Ikechi Emenike as our consensus Governorship Candidate for Abia State in the 2023  general elections.

 “That the Forum shall aggressively mobilise APC members and non- members in Aba Zone to enhance the victory of High Chief Ikechi Emenike as the Governor of Abia State in the 2023 general election,” the communiqué signed by the people read in part.

Nwosu announced that he and other leaders of the forum have collapsed their structures to work for Emenike’s success at the poll, because “this man has not committed any fraud, this man is a strict disciplinarian. So, when he becomes governor, everything will be in accordance with decent society.”

 Hosting a consultative meeting at his Okoko Item, Bende, country home which witnessed large turnout of APC members, Dr. Nwkeocha Chidiebere, a former House of Assembly aspirant, told the crowd that he was supporting Emenike because he was a man of his words. According to him, if Emenike makes a promise, he keeps it.

For Emenike’s Running Mate, Rev. Barr. Gloria Akara, the APC governorship hopeful dreams and sleeps Abia and would no doubt give Abia a new face if he wins the governorship race.

“His Excellency’s emergence at this time in this season is well-timed for Abia liberation, transformation, credible and tangible change on several fronts – from the basic to the truly knotty issues of governance, from education, infrastructure, health and tourism to the economy and security.”

Also, stakeholders of the commercial city of Aba joined the endorsement train when they adopted Emenike as their consensus governorship candidate. Leaders of the stakeholders forum drawn from different sectors of the economy of the state made the declaration on September 1, 2022 at the end of their meeting with Emenike, who was accompanied by Rev. Barr. Akara, and other leaders of the party. Among the stakeholders were lwadees of state associations, town unions, communities, transporters, religious organisations, markets. Not left out were those from the academia, business entrepreneurs, pensioners, artisans, property owners, students and widows, among others.

 They said that having listened to the other governorship candidates, they were not convinced about their capacity and sincerity of purpose. The stakeholders identified Emenike as the most credible and responsible candidate to rescue and develop the state from its present deplorable condition.

 “With Emenike in power, the lost glory of Aba will be restored. Enyimba City will become popular once again. Unemployment will be addressed. Decayed infrastructure will be rebuilt and the economy restored. Insecurity will give way,” they chorused.

 Ohafia stakeholders followed suit and charged Emenike to take power so that he would abolish bad governance in Abia. The stakeholders, who vowed to ensure Emenike’s victory, took the firm stand on their choice of candidate for Abia 2023 at a meeting hosted by Chief Stanley Orji Oba at Abiriba.

Hon. Uche Dike Okoro captured the decision of the stakeholders in his address as he declared: “Ndi Abia have resolved that an end has come for bad governance and are looking up to Emenike to save them.”

According to Okoro, the APC governorship candidate towers above the other candidates in “competence, integrity, visionary leadership and brims with practicable ideas on how to develop Abia.”

 Chief George Nnanna Kalu, also a major stakeholder in Abia politics, pointed out that the problem with Abia has remained the gross mismanagement of its resources by incompetent leaders.

“We don’t have a good manager in Government House,” he lamented. He said that the incompetence of the people presiding over the affairs of Abia was so glaring that their behaviour remains unchanged under every economic situation.

 “I recommend High Chief Emenike as someone who will be diligent in managing our resources and we must support him to drive away the bad managers out of Government House,” Kalu said.

 In Ukwa land, stakeholders led by Chief Mac Wabara, a former governorship aspirant in Abia, also expressed their support for Chief Ikechi Emenike, saying that they were optimistic he would lead the party to victory in 2023.

Wabara, a renowned banker, hosted Chief Emenike late last August in his Ohambele country home in Ukwa East local government area where he expressed confidence that thw APC governorship flag bearer would emerge victorious in the Abia guber race.

“I want to tell our people that Emenike is a man of his words. He is liberal to all,” he declared. Wabara assured that Ukwa people will rally round Emenike and work hard for his victory as a way to show their appreciation to him for picking their own as his running mate.

“When the campaigns begin, you will see how excited we are about this offer. We will use every support group in Ukwa land for this project. You have our 100 per cent support. Whether they like it or not, Emenike will occupy Government House in 2023,” he asserted.

Communities, groups and individuals from Umuahia and Ikwuano have equally thrown their weight behind Emenike. The people of Umuahia are angry that as host of the state capital, the city has remained a glorified state capital.

Only recently, 67 traditional rulers in Ikwuano/Umuahia federal constituency occupying the Abia Capital Territory, gave their royal blessings to Chief Emenike’s governorship project, expressing confidence that he temajns the only candidate with the capacity to rescue and develop the state.

By now Abians have come to understand and appreciate the leadership qualities of the Abia APC governorship candidate. Even his erstwhile political opponents have come to understand, appreciate and propagate Emenike’s politics of development. Having discovered that the banner bearer of their party is a strong, trustworthy leader, chieftains of Abia APC have now seen the need to subsume their personal interests and put first their party and its goal of taking control of Abia this year.

The Lioness of Abia politics and Deputy Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, expressed her excitement at Emenike’s emergence as the party’s standard bearer for the 2023 governorship battle. In her speech at the gathering at Ntalakwu, she noted that that this was the first time Abia APC has gotten it right in choosing its governorship candidate.

She said: “The crux of the matter is for us to become the ruling party in Abia come 2023 and for the first time, Abia APC got it right in its choice of governorship flag bearer.”

Onyejeocha, who represents Isuikwuato/Umunneochi Federal Constituency, added that Emenike’s candidacy was all the more pleasant and satisfactory, given the fact that the party made its choice through a seamless internal democratic process of primary poll devoid of any imposition. For her, the ticket was a reward for Emenike’s hard work in sustaining the party in the state.

The federal lawmaker would join forces with other party faithful in Abia North to conquer that senatorial district, as usual. With her federal constituency comfortably under control, Onyejeocha would always point the way for her constituents to follow and stick with her party and all its candidates, including Emenike.

At another forum, a stakeholders meeting she hosted at her Ngodo Isuochi country home, Hon Onyejeocha pointed out that the emergence of Emenike as the governorship flag bearer of APC 2023 was divinely ordained. She told the participants that Emenike’s candidacy is God’s answer to the cries of Abians hence the Almighty has sent the governorship hopeful on a rescue mission. This inspired message  resonated with the stakeholders composed of traditional rulers, council of elders (Ndi Ichie), presidents of town unions, clerics, women and youth leaders as well as various interest groups in the Umunneochi local government.

“God knows that a time like this will come when he will use Emenike to salvage Abia,” she said, adding that God has seen the APC governorship flag bearer as a man of high integrity and total commitment to develop Abia. “Emenike will not embezzle Abia money. He is a man of integrity, which is the most important quality that is needed in politics but lacking among the “enemies of Abia holding the state down,” she said. Her constituents concurred, with an assurance they would back Emenike and APC.

It was at Ntalakwu Oboro stakeholdrrs meeting of June 18, 2022 that Abia APC chieftains came out in unison and declared to the prople of Abia that APC has got the man to lead the state out of the woods the ruling Peoples DemocraticParty(PDP) has dragged it into. House of Representatives Spokesman, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, who represents Bende Federal Constituency, expressed strong confidence in the capacity of Chief Emenike to lead Abia APC to victory in the 2023 poll.

“I’ve discovered that Emenike is a truthful and honest man and that is what is lacking in Abia politics. With this man leading in front, you can be sure that whatever he promises, he will do it,” Kalu said.

Another APC chieftain who is also a former member of House of Representatives, Hon. Emeka Atuma, who hosted the meeting, declared that Emenike was Abia APC’s winning formula for 2023.

 “There is only one governor we can make today; he is High Chief Ikechi Emenike. We have the tools that will make it possible for APC to win Abia governorship poll and at all levels.

“Emenike is a man of impeccable character, truth and steadfastness. He is a man of great ideology,” Atuma further asserted.

 A former Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, who was part of the meeting, described Emenike as “a good man” worthy of carrying Abia APC’s flag in the 2023 governorship contest, saying, “he (Emenike) is our governor tomorrow (2023). Today is the moment of truth.”

Unarguably, Chief Emenike is the only candidate in Abia who has garnered this volume of positive and sincere testaments from political heavy weights across the length and breadth of Abia, and across party lines. The masses are enthusiastic to have a governor who would fully deploy state resources to positively impact on their lives. If he has received these honest assessments and blessings of influential political heavyweights and the ordinary man in the street, the question is: which other governorship candidate would muster the courage to stand in the way of this political juggernaut?

Indeed, the change that Abians are yearning for has come. The leader with integrity and sincerity of purpose to take Abia to the deserved level of development is her. That is why Ndi Abia are eagerly waiting to give Emenike the mandate to make a new Abia possible come March 11, 2023..

John Nwoha, a Public Affairs Analyst and Commentator, lives in Umuahia

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