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.
What is clear is that Abians and non Abians are interested more than ever in who becomes the next Abia governor as they have come to the conclusion that Abia needs a total break from the past to chart a new couse for Abia of our dream..
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: Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe
Senator Abaribe is one of the top politicians that may likely takeover from Governor Ikpeazu.
Senator Abaribe who is the current Minority leader of the 9th Senate was born on March 1st 1955.
He is one of the lawmakers in this country who is known to be outspoken.
Before he became a Senator of the Federal Republic Of Nigeria, he served as the Deputy Governor of Abia State between 1999 to 2002.
He successfully ran for Abia south Senatorial elections and was reelected in 2011,2015,and 2019 marking his 4th term in the Senate.
The political experience and supports he enjoys in Abia state coupled with his role in the release of the leader of the Indigenous people of Biafra Mazi Nnamdi Kanu positioned him as on of the likely successors of Governor ikpeazu come 2023
2.Rt.Hon Ude Oko Chukwu
Rt.Hon Ude was born on January 1 1962. He is a Nigerian Accountant and the current Deputy Governor Of Abia state after he was elected into office in 2015.
Prior to his Swearing in as deputy Governor, he had served as the Speaker of the 5th Abia State House Of Assembly.
He became politically active in 2001 and in 2003 won a seat in the Abia State House Of Assembly, representing Ohafia North state constituency.
Their are indications that he is seriously scheming for the number one position as his supporters are of the view that having done the number 3 and number 2 roles very well, that the account turned politican is the right man to replace his boss who he has shown total support and loyalty to.
Their are also the arguments in some quarters that power should return to Abia North, observers and some stakeholders in the Northern part of the state is seriously rooting for him as they allege that he has the support of the former first family.
3: 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.
4: 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.
5: 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 top bureaucrat who believe 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, has 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.
6 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 and Tunnel End Construction Companies. 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 challenge to the coveted position, observers believe, is his misunderstanding with his erstwhile confidant and friend Chinedum Orji.
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, 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.