Nothing in magnitude, depth and significance can compare with the ongoing realignment of political forces in Abia State. By a stroke of hand of providence and acute concern for the future of the state, almost all the political gladiators have found a comfortable home in the Peoples Democratic Party. Feuds of many years, unending spite and self–serving competition among otherwise illustrious Abia sons and daughters, which robbed the state of development, have been dissolved with every progressive mind being confident, and eager to face the future. This was beyond their imagination when the Kalu family with designs on building a dynasty, held the political structures and institutions in the State in vice grip.
To lend perspective to the above and help us understand the quantum of change taking place in Abia, let us recall what was. The misadventure of former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu and his family into the Abia politics in 1999 left Abia fractured from the beginning of the fourth Republic. Once elected into office, he moved to weaken both manifest and latent opposition. All the institutions of democracy were destroyed. The Judiciary, Civil Society and even the political party that elected him were supplanted by the personal vicious organisation code-named Reality Organisation.
The group known as the R.O had Abia in a stranglehold. You could not be admitted into colleges or employed in the Civil Service if you were not a member. The leaders of all associations, market unions, and councils were forced to belong to the R.O which was run by the mother of former governor Kalu. Such was the grip, that even contractors paid dues to the R.O. Thugs that reported to either the former governor, his mother or brother were every where to enforce compliance.
On the larger political front, the division was so deep and total that it was anathema to greet eat and drink with a member of the other political party. It did not matter if they were members of the same family, school mates or friends. Tension pervaded so much that those who were not in the some party as the former governor and his mother hardly spent time in the state.
Curiously, this set a pattern and template for relationship in the other parties. Take the PDP for example, the Party had one Executive Committee for sure. However, if there were fifteen persons in that Executive, they represented over five factions that were seemingly silent, but had vicious codes of loyalty which drove them to check-mate each other. Yet they belonged to the same party. The spite in the heart of the foot soldiers was repeatedly fertilized by the contempt with which they saw their principals treat their rivals.
Chief Ojo Maduekwe and Chief Onyema Ugochukwu were not in talking terms for years. The spite was so total that in Abuja where they lived on the same street at the time Ugochukwu ran for the governorship election, both men never spoke so much to each other. At the same, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, Ojo Maduekwe and Onyema Ugochukwu had their own beef. So when Ugochukwu lost the governorship, he felt that Maduekwe and Ogbulafor did not back him. Sadly, the opportunity for pay-back came swiftly. Ogbulafor had hardly settled down as chairman of PDP when Onyema Ugochukwu, Senator Adolphus Wabara, Maduekwe and others that joined the group that is alleged to have shot him down. Humiliated and hounded out of office, Ogbulafor’s men began to re-organise for another showdown especially as it was rumoured that Ugochukwu was warming up for anther shot at the governorship.
On the sidelines were the Ngwa group marshalled by Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe who continued to press that the Ngwa failure to clinch the governorship was no longer acceptable. On the other flank was the emerging rift between Governor Theodore Orji and former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu. Forces loyal to the former governor led by former Deputy Governor Comrade Chris Akomas were beginning to openly undermine Ochendo to pave the way for Akomas to run for governorship under the PPA.
This is a slide of the dangerous stage for the 2011 elections in the state before the hand of God intervened. The intervention was by giving Governor Theodore Orji the courage to stand up and defy the Kalu dynasty. He gave Ochendo the rare courage to risk his life and career to severe links with the Kalu family which had for years been the hidden hand and mouth raping the resources of the state. By the stroke of Ochendo’s action and his rare courage, he cut off the root of the weed that has sapped the life of the state for a very long time.
As all Abians know, Abia made a wrong turn in 1999 by thrusting its future into the hands of Kalu and his mother –two megalomaniacs and opportunists driven by a sadistic ambition to dominate Abia. Though they had no clue about how to govern, they chose to attack the tangible and intangible resources of the state. The rot in Abia State is a testament to their designs on the state. The four years of Ochendo’s administration has been a struggle by the governor to fight off and rupture the plans of the family to create a dynasty. The struggle which was quiet for a long time because of Governor Orji’s gentility was blown open by Kalu’s own crudity and bravado. The rest as they say is history now as the governor has found a new home in PDP where he is now leader of the party in the state.
The governor is making the most of this victory by avoiding the mistakes of the former governor. He has moved to reconcile with all the gladiators especially the leaders whom his predecessor and ally hurt, but who initially were wont to transfer their hatred to him. He and Chief Ugochukwu have forgiven each other, and are working together. He has also embraced Senator Abaribe who Orji Uzor Kalu fought and pushed out of government as his erstwhile deputy. At the time of the long-drawn quarrel between Kalu and Abaribe, Ochendo was Chief of Staff.
Prince Ogbulafor. Prince B.B.Apugo, Tony Ukasanya and a host of others are now working with the governor. Such is the wholesomeness of the reconciliation that the governor has appointed his erstwhile antagonist Chief Tony Ukasanya as the Director-General of his Campaign Organisation. There are others like Dr. Eme Okoro, Ugochukwu right-hand man who is now in-charge of strategy in the governor’s campaign outfit. A few weeks ago, nobody would have imagined that Abia State was capable of achieving this level of reconciliation and political calm. Indeed, everybody is in one wagon now.
The significance of these is delicious. They point the way to the future of Abia. The connection is straightforward. With the level of insecurity and crisis in Abia State, political contests as we know them in Abia in the past would have been disastrous. The unity of the political class means that politicians have chosen development over politics. The impending end of unnecessary bickering and feuds in the state means that there is an opportunity to mobilise all men, women and resources to develop the state. That is already happening. Recent appointments into the state Executive Council reflected all the spectra of Abia politics. Moreover, the calibre of people in that cabinet represents some of the best, young and skilled minds in the state.
Such was never heard of under former Governor Kalu, because the mother who held charge had to appoint her ilk. But that is not the case with Ochendo now, because he appears determined to develop the state.
Along same lines, in furtherance of his single-minded pursuit of peace so as to drive his programmes, the governor has built a synergy with the National Assembly members from the state. They in turn have pledged to work with him to develop the state. With the successful realignment of political forces and the restoration of law and other, the governor has set the stage for the take-off of Abia State. It is hoped that the forth-coming elections will not upset this environment which the governor has worked so hard to bring about.
NGEX welcomes and encourages reader comments. Permission to post reader comments is assumed, and we reserve the right to excerpt or edit for clarity any comments that are posted. We won't be able to publish all comments. And we can't vouch for the accuracy of posts from readers. Nickname or Name will be used to identify your post.
"The views and opinions expressed in these comment(s) or article(s) do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of NGEX, its partners or its affiliates."