Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
A very close ally of Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State who played key role in the Governor’s emergence in 2015, and subsequent victory in 2019, Chief Charles Ogbonnaya, has expressed displeasure that Ebonyi State has overtaken Abia in infrastructural development.
The former Deputy Chief of Staff to blamed wrong advisers for the poor state of infrastructure in the state while urging the Governor to stop heeding bad advice.
Chief Ogbonnaya urged the Governor and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state to allow power to rotate back to Abia-North senatorial district in keeping with the prevailing zoning arrangement in the state.
The former Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs who addressed newsmen Monday in his Umuahia residence, warned that PDP would lose Abia in 2023 should the party ” make the mistake of giving its ticket to an Ngwa man”.
Ogbonnaya spoke on the heels of criticisms against him following a viral video where he poured libations urging the gods to work against the alleged ‘Ngwa self succession agenda.’
He said that those rooting for another Ngwa man to succeed Gov. Ikpeazu in 2023 do not mean well for the party, as such attempt which is at variance with Abia Charter of Equity would be counter productive.
The PDP chieftain accused those prodding the Governor to hand over to his Ngwa kinsman of being the reason Abia has not witnessed much progress.
He warned that those in power should be aware that they might be required to give account of their stewardship when they exit power.
“Those advising the Governor to hand over power to another Ngwa man are doing so because of their selfish interests. Such people want to remain in Government to steal more money.
“But I want to tell them that there will be a panel to probe everybody after 2023. Why is Abia not like Ebonyi State of yesterday? Are we not ashamed that Ebonyi has overtaken Abia?”
Asked why he suddenly realised that Ebonyi had been streets ahead of Abia in terms of development, the two-time Commissioner said he has been talking to the Governor privately but would no longer keep quiet.
Apparently referring to the recent sack of the former Senate President, Senator Adolphus Wabara who also warned PDP against allowing Ngwa man to succeed Ikpeazu, Chief Ogbonnaya advised Ikpeazu to stop vilifying his critics but make use of their useful counsel.
Chief Ogbonnaya who said he was a foundation member of PDP, vowed to campaign against the party should “an Ngwa man fly the governorship flag in 2023”.
“If the leadership of our party and the Governor insist on giving the party’s governorship ticket to another Ngwa man in 2023, PDP will lose Abia.
“I have been in this game for decades. I’m a foundation member of PDP. Take my words to the bank. Already, some of our governorship aspirants are leaving the party.
“The day the party and the Governor appointed Chief Tony Ukasanya as the Chairman of PDP Elders Council against the rules, I told them they were digging the grave of PDP.
“How can you give the decision-making power of the party to an old man who is a spent force?
“Ikpeazu’s problem is that he appointed advisers he is advising instead of appointing those that will advise him.
“Those people shouting that power should remain in Ngwa beyond 2023 were the same people fighting against Ikpeazu in 2015 when we made him Governor.
“I didn’t see any Ngwa man in 2015 when we made Ikpeazu Governor. But today even some of them I knew that protested to me then are now advising him to hand over power to another Ngwa man.”
Chief Ogbonnaya who said he mobilised support for Ikpeazu to become Governor in 2015 against many odds wondered why the Governor had decided not to heed his advice.
“I’m 69 years now and I don’t aspire to be governor, but I must tell the truth. I brought Ikpeazu in 2014 and gave him to those who made him Governor.
“I mobilised the highest single donation to his campaign, and I didn’t see any Ngwa man then. In 2015 I poured libations for Okezie Ikpeazu to win elections and no Ngwa man criticised me then.
“Why are they now after me for saying that God should not allow Ngwa man to be governor in 2023?”
The former Commissioner for Trade and Investment said that when Ikpeazu confided in him his intension to hand over power to his Ngwa kinsman in Abia Central, he advised him against the move as it would disrupt the prevailing zoning arrangement in the state.
He wondered why the Governor decided to push ahead with the idea which he had warned him could jeopardize the fortunes of the ruling party as well as disrupting the prevailing peace in the state.
“When Gov. Ikpeazu invited me and told me that he wanted power to remain in Ngwa beyond 2023, I told him it was wrong. I told the Governor that power should naturally flow back to Abia-North where it started in 1999.
“Ikpeazu told me then that he would hand over to somebody about 45 years old. Why does he now want to hand over to a 75-year- old man? Does he think that Abians have forgotten this man’s records at Abia Polytechnic and our university where he served?
“When the man came here to consult with me, I asked him: where is your stamina to govern Abia at 75? I tell you if that man flies PDP ticket, the party will fail.
“So, I urge people to please prevail on the Governor to allow power to return to Abia-North. PDP will fail if they try to impose an Ngwa man on us.”