Governing Abia 2019: Ikpeazu, Otti, Ogah and The Battle to Save the God’s Own state

Ebenezer Makinde
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It was supposed to be a Governorship debate in Abia state, but the debaters came with guns and teargas. Pathetically, at the debate ground, it was almost turned into a war zone. In Nigeria, politics and war are not so different. People do anything to win just like war. Children are warned to not play with fire, but in Abia state, one of the south eastern states in the federation, some certain pyromaniacs did play with fire. They burned the INEC office in Isiala Ngwa south. Only that they were not children. They were adult pyromaniacs with certain interest in politics.

Abia state like many other states in Nigeria is in preparatory mood for the 2019 governorship elections. But unlike many other states in the country, the God’s own state has tended to be violence prone in recent times. But since men who love business hardly engage in brawl, Abians are expected to embrace peace sooner than later. Expectedly, the violence will go with the election, but not the consequences of the election results.

For many years, Abia state has descended into the lowest rung of socio-economic and infrastructural development. Witnessing the first hand assessment upon travelling through some major roads in the state to enter into Akwa Ibom state during my clarion call. Some of the roads are nothing to write home about. This should tell us a lot about the performances of previous governors in the state since 1991. But this is 2019, and Abians are about to make another governor or re-elect the incumbent.

The Contestants and the Incumbent Governor

In Nigeria politics, it makes a whole lot of sense to take the incumbent as the favourite. More often than not, they always win. For Abia state, the Governorship election is not a two horse race. The horses are many. But the man to beat is still the Incumbent, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, People’s Democratic Party. The contestants who pray not his re-election include; Dr. Alex Otti, All Progressive Grand Alliance, Chief Uche Ogah, All Progressive Congress, Dr Blessing Nwagba, Social Democratic Party and 25 others. According to INEC, 29 candidates are expected to compete for the Governorship position in the state.

With a population of about 4 million people, Abia state has total registered voters of 1, 932,892 (one million, nine hundred and thirty-two thousand, eight hundred and ninety-two). In the meantime, let usx-ray the major contenders.

Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, People’s Democratic Party

Born on october 18, 1964, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu gained admission to study Clinical Biochemistry at the University of Maiduguri at a young age of 16 and graduated with a second class (upper division) in august 1984.

He did his program at the same University of Maiduguri in Biochemical Toxicology and graduated in 1990. Four years later in 1994, he obtained his Doctorate Degree (Phd) in Biochemical Pharmacology from the University of Calabar in what seems like a fulfilling educational career.

Before venturing into politics, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu served as an administrative manager with cash bond investments and credits LTD, lagos. He also formally taught at Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) in the department of Applied Biochemistry and later became the head of department in 2001. He was also a visiting senior lecturer at the department of Biochemistry, Ebonyi State University College of  Basic Medical Sciences between 2000 to 2002.

His political career began as the Chairman of the transition committee for Obingwa local government area of Abia state. He has served as the special adviser to the Governor of Abia state and also held many appointive positions since his foray into politics. He became the Governor of abia state after the 2015 Governorship elections in the state.

Dr. Alex Otti, All Progressive Grand Alliance 

Alex Otti hails from Isiala Ngwa South Local Government area of the state. He had his secondary school education at Ngwa High School, Aba and Secondary Technical school, Okpuala Ngwa in Abia state, where he finished as the best student in his set during the School Certificate Examinations. Thereafter, he graduated from the Department of Economics, University of Port-Harcourt with a first class honours in 1988.

In 2009, he was honoured with an Honorary Doctorate Degree by Babcock University and in 2012, an Honorary Doctor of Science Degree from the University of Port Harcourt. He has since worked in top Executive Positions in the Banking Industry. For example, in 2001, he became the Assistant General Manager of First Bank plc where he was saddled with the responsibility of growing the energy sector for the bank. He is also the former Managing Director and CEO of Diamond Bank.

Dr. Otti almost became the Governor of Abia state in 2015 when the Court of Appeal ruled and declared him as the winner of the 2015 Governorship Elections in Abia state. It will be recalled that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and election tribunal had declared Mr Ikpeazu as the winner of the election before the judgement of the court of appeal. But Mr Ikpeazu somehow won the legal battle at the supreme court and was later sworn in as the legitimate winner of the april 2015 Governorship Election.

Chief Uche Ogah, All Progressive Congress

Chief Ucheckukwu Ogah born on december 22, 1969 is an Entrepreneur, Investor and a Philanthropist. He attended Ishiagu High school before working with West African Examination Council (WAEC) from 1986 to 1989.

Ogah attended Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) at Enugu state where he obtained Upper Credit at Ordinary National Diploma. He equally obtained a distinction at the Higher National Diploma (HND) in the same institute. He attended University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) where he obtained a postgraduate diploma in 2005. He has a Bachelor of Science Degree at Banking and Finance from Ogun State University and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Lagos.

He began his career as a Banker with a year of National Youth Service year at nal bank plc. Thereafter, he took up full employment at all states trust bank where he worked for around two years before joining Zenith Bank in 1997. At Zenith Bank, he set a record of growing a new branch of zero balance sheets to over 9 billion and rose to the position of an assistant general manager (agm) at zenith.

Uche Ogah was the People’s Democratic Party’s gubernatorial candidates for abia state in the party’s primary election held on december 8, 2014. He has since moved to the APC and he remained the standard bearer of the party for the 2019 governorship election in the state despite the growing crisis in abia state APC. The All Progressive Congress in Abia state is in a state of confusion.

The name of Chief Ogah is on the INEC list, but Ikechi Emenike has established a parallel government after a federal capital high court declared him as the authentic winner of the party primary in abia state. In the meantime, there are two factions of the All Progressive Congress in abia state, one with Uche Ogah as the Governorship candidate, the other with Ikechi Emenike as the standard bearer, but Uche Ogah somehow has his name on the inec list for the March 2 gubernatorial election.

Anyone Can Win in the God’s own state

Politics in the God’s own state is always dramatic with various players usually hoping to upturn the electoral results in the court of law. It was the case in 2015 between Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu and Dr. Alex Otti.

Even chief Uche Ogah that was not in the game having lost the 2014 gubernatorial primary election of the pdp was almost declared the governor of Abia state by virtue of being of the contestant at the primary election that produced Dr Okezie Ikpeazu as the standard bearer of the PDP when Okezie Ikpeazu was initially sacked by the court of law. That was almost the height of the drama in abia state, but Okezie retained his position and here we are again, both Alex Otti and Uche Ogah will be trying their luck once again.

I cannot say whether it was the python dance, but the APC is not generally popular in the South East. The crisis rocking the Abia state chapter of the party has further compounded their problems. It would be a miracle to have an APC governor in Abia state after the march 2 Gubernatorial Election. But as the Ruling party at the federal level, the APC cannot just be discarded.

If the South East is Nigeria, APGA will be ruling the federation. Whatever happens on March 2, the All Progressive Grand Alliance is going to be the party to beat, not even the incumbent party. The APGA man, Dr. Alex Otti is a formidable man who could definitely steal the show from the PDP and the APC in the March 2 election. But we the observers can only hope for a level playing ground in the God’s own state where all votes will be allowed to count.


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