Five days to the Abia governorship poll, thick dark clouds appear to be setting on the ambition of the All Progressive Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Dr. Uche Ogah.
The APC governorship candidate’s ambition is daily crashing like a pack of cards. A month ago, former chairman of the State council of traditional rulers, Eze Isaac Ikonne, had urged Ogah to allow Ikpeazu who is from the Ukwa/Ngwa bloc to complete two terms in line with the Abia charter of equity document.
The monarch has explained that it would be unfair to deny the Ukwa/Ngwa a chance to serve as two terms as governor as the Abia North and Abia Central zones, did.
Across Abia state, questions are being asked if Ogah is still in the race for the Abia governorship position. To those who raise such posers, Ogah has failed to mount a coordinated campaign befitting that of a governorship candidate from the ruling party. He appears unprepared for the race. Unlike the PDP and APGA governorship candidates, Ogah’s campaign billboards are not conspicuous in Aba and Umuahia. Some APC faithful in the state have continued to accuse Ogah of refusing to fund his campaign and failure to redeem financial promises he made during party events.
Two days ago, the APGA Governorship candidate, Dr. Alex Otti, refused to step down for Ogah at a meeting brokered by some APC chieftains and Otti’s associates who wants the opposition to sponsor a candidate to defeat Ikpeazu. Sources at the meeting which ended in a stalemate disclosed the APGA candidate insisted that Ogah ought to step down for him.
Impeccable sources hint that Ogah’s godfather, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu may have abandoned him since he knew that the APC governorship candidate is already running against the tide in the election. It was Kalu who ‘pulled the strings’ to ensure that Ogah got the APC governorship ticket ahead of formidable candidates such as Sir Friday Nwosu, Hon. Martin Azubuike, Comrade Chris Akomas and Amb. Okey Emuchay, from the Ukwa/Ngwa bloc.
To express appreciation, two days after his victory at the Abia APC governorship primaries, Ogah and his running mate, Hon. Martin Azubuike, stormed Camp Neya ,Orji Uzor Kalu’s palatial residence in Igbere, where the latter raised their hands , affirming Azubuike as running mate. Azubuike’s adoption as running mate without the input of Abia APC stakeholders almost tore the party apart. But Kalu later had his way.
Ogah had in a secret agreement ,allegedly conceded some positions to Kalu .This include appointing his brother, Mascot Uzor Kalu as the Chief of Staff to the governor, some commissionership , LGA chairmen slots and several financial favours. Others are the chairmanship of major markets in the state as well as award of certain contracts. In addition, Kalu will also produce the speaker and leaders of the state Assembly.
As a wily old fox, sources close to Kalu said he is having a second thought on sponsoring Ogah’s governorship ambition. The former governor is afraid of backlash against old Bende people in Aba if the Ukwa/Ngwa is denied a chance to complete two terms. Again, Kalu is afraid of ‘betrayal’ from another godson. His experience from his former Chief of Staff, Senator Theodore Orji who he assisted to emerge governor, is said to be evergreen in his memory. According to one of his close associates, Kalu won’t risk another betrayal.
The odds seem to be highly stacked against Ogah’s ambition. There are strong indications that the presidency prefer Ikpeazu to continue and not ready to provide resources to Ogah. To lend credence to the reports, Ogah had confided in a popular blogger from the South East that he is too careful to spend money because the presidency appears to be backing Ikpeazu’s return.
Another trouble for Ogah is that Kalu is said to be negotiating with the PDP not to challenge his controversial victory as senator -elect at the February 23 Presidential and National Assembly polls. The former governor also wants his younger brother, Mascot Uzor Kalu, to contest the 2023 Abia governorship election and believes the emergence of Ogah will hurt his plan.
Kalu is too worried that prominent APC members from Ukwa Ngwa bloc are insisting on the re-election of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu on the strength of equity which has seen the Abia North and Abia Central senatorial zones complete two terms on the governorship seat.
According to an APC chieftain from the Ukwa /Ngwa bloc who preferred anonymity, “The people of Ukwa/Ngwa will not allow themselves to be deceived in serving only for years as governor when the Old Bende had taken 16 years. The APC committed a political blunder by not sponsoring a candidate from Ukwa/Ngwa. Though, we belong to APC, we have made it known to them that It is unfair to return power to old Bende bloc after four years. “
Most indigenes of the Abia North zone (Arochukwu, Bende, Isuikwuato, Ohafia ,Umunneochi) are in support of the Ukwa/Ngwa to complete two terms and hand over to them in 2023 in the interest of equity and unity of the state.
It is clear that Kalu will not like to lose his status as leader of APC in Abia, may have chosen to back Ogah for an appointment at the federal level.
*Esiaba, a public affairs analyst, writes from Aba