By Enyinnaya Appolos
The peaceful conduct of the 2019 elections in Abia State, from the Presidential/National Assembly to the Governorship/State House of Assembly polls, without any rancour or record of loss of any human life, is a testimony to quality leadership, and has shown the character, courage and competence of Okezie Ikpeazu, not just as a governor, but also as a leader who cares so much about the lives and property of the people whose mandate he holds in trust, while relying on God’s grace and guidance, and paying little or no attention to his personal political or material gains. Such humane dispositions of a governor are rare in our clime.
It also goes a long way to explain why Abia has been politically stable since Ikpeazu assumed office on May 29, 2015, making him the first Governor in Abia State’s political history without a quarrel with his deputy, and also the first Governor to finish his first term with his deputy and also run for a 2nd term with the same deputy.
Okezie Ikpeazu has shown that he has the capacity to ensure peace and stability even in times of crisis and tension.
Prior to the elections, there were insinuations and agitations of plots by the opponents to foment crisis in the state. Such plots became so loud and clear after the Presidential and National Assembly elections which gave the APC an upper hand over the ruling PDP in the Abia North senatorial zone of the state particularly. Amidst all that, Governor Ikpeazu was firm, focused and courageous; his only concern was the safety of lives and property of Abia electorates and all her residents.
Recall that Ikpeazu has worked so hard since assumption of office in 2015 to keep Abia uninterruptedly stable politically; politicians of all sides in the state were given a level playing field to operate.
Unlike the old order, where Governor/Deputy Governor relationship was always in bad shape, in the news for the wrong reasons and formed an avoidable cog in the wheel of the state’s progress, Ikpeazu ensured that Ude Oko Chukwu, his deputy, did not only complete his tenure, he also got him re-nominated as his running mate for the 2019 gubernatorial election despite high wired plots by the Deputy Governor’s kinsmen in Abia North to have him replaced for untenable reasons, thereby making Chukwu the first Deputy Governor in the history of Abia to finish his first term and also go for reelection with his boss.
Ikpeazu also happens to be the first Governor from the Ukwa-Ngwa clan of the state, despite its majority status.
Ikpeazu has returned Abia to the path of honour, progress, political and economic stability, and respect for each other and office. In the days ahead, it is believed that whatever is left undone, will be done.
For the Governor, it was a victory foretold. Outside the support from his people across party divides, Ikpeazu in four years as Governor, has major landmark achievements that stand him out, making it impossible to beat him in the election. His unflinching efforts in infrastructural upgrade of the state, which was in a state of comatose when he came to power in 2015, was a major boost for him. Aba, which was completely abandoned, got infrastructural attention with all roads leading into major markets, particularly the Ariaria International market, all fixed to ease movement of persons, goods and services.
Also, the Made-in-Aba campaign which had direct impact and touch on artisans, small and medium scale businesses in Aba, particularly shoe, other leather works and garment dealers, was not just a master stroke , but a sure bet for Ikpeazu.
A culmination of all of these gave way for the resounding and seamless victory of the Ikpeazu at the polls, defeating his opponents with a huge figure of 261,127, winning 12 out of the 17 local government areas of the state, including Obingwa, Isialangwa North, Isialangwa South, Osisioma Ngwa, Aba North, Ugwunagbo, Ukwa East, Ukwa West, Umuahia North, Umuahia South, Ikwuano and Ohafia.
Finally, it ended in praise.
- Appolos is Chief Press Secretary to Ikpeazu