Ebonyi South re-run: Mixed reactions trail plot to send Afikpo Bloc into political extinction

With the concentration of both appointive and elective positions in the Ohaozara Bloc, concern mounts over the alleged plot to push the Old Afikpo Bloc into political extinction.

Both the Old Afikpo Bloc (which has the Afikpo and Edda Local Government Areas) and the Ohaozara Bloc (comprising the Ohaozara, Onicha and Ivo Local Government Areas) are politically housed in the Ebonyi South senatorial Zone.

Between 2015 and 2023, the Ohaozara Bloc had both the immediate past governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, and the then minister of Science and Technology Innovation, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu at the corridors of power. Currently, the Ohaozara Bloc parades ex-governor Umahi as Minister of Works and Mrs Chioma Nweze, the Special Assistant to President Bola Tinubu on Community Development (South-East Zone).

To fill the vacant seat at the Red Chamber which ensued as a consequence of Umahi’s appointment as minister by President Tinubu, aspirants to the position from various parties have been warning up for the contest in the zone billed for February 3rd, 2024.

It’s equally noteworthy to state that as of Monday, January 8, virtually all the political parties except the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) have conducted their primary elections ahead of the re-run, zoned and selected their candidates from the Ohaozara Bloc.

The All Progressives Congress zoned its ticket to Onicha LGA and has produced Prof. Anthony Ani as its candidate in the February 3rd re-run. The Labour Party had its primary on Sunday, January 7 and elected Hon. Linus Okorie for the re-run. The Peoples Democratic Party, on Monday, January 8, produced Hon. Silas Onu during its primary. These candidates all come from the Ohaozara Bloc, leaving aspirants of these parties in the Afikpo Bloc out of the contest.

Based on the current development, stakeholders are of the view that there is a perfected plot to send the Old Afikpo Bloc, which currently has but the deputy governor in the person of Princess Patricia Obila (perceived to be a stooge of the Ohaozara Bloc) and the State APC Chairman, Hon. Stanley Okoro-Emegha into a perpetual political oblivion.

Speaking on the development, the President-General, Coalition of South-East Youth Leaders, Dr. Goodluck Ibem, frowned at the situation, describing it as anti-democracy.

He said, “It is anti-democracy for the Ohaozara Bloc to marginalise the Old Afikpo Bloc by taking all the political offices/slots meant for the Ebonyi South Zone all to themselves.

“From 2015 to 2023, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu from the Ohaozara bloc was a Federal Minister for eight years under President Buhari.

“Now the same Ohaozara bloc has produced the Minister of Works, in the person of Sen. David Umahi and the Special Assistant to President Tinubu on Community Development (South-East Zone), Chioma Nweze.”

He added, “It is politically fair for all the political parties in the state to zone their senatorial tickets for Ebony South in the February 3rd re-run, to the Afikpo bloc for equity and justice.

“What is good for the goose is also good for the gander. The Afikpo bloc should be supported by all and sundry to produce the next Senator for Ebonyi South Senatorial zone.”

Also speaking, the Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state, Comrade Chika Nwoba observed that although it was argumentative political appointments at the Federal level were the president’s prerogative and not based on zoning arrangement, what was rather important were elective positions and whether they had been any form of zoning arrangement, in the Ebonyi South Zone.

According to Nwoba, “Well, one would argue that political appointments at the national level are the prerogative of the president and not done based on zoning structure. What’s so important in my own view are the elective positions and how they are being zoned if actually there’s a formal zoning arrangement in such a territory.

“In the case of the current Senatorial re-run, I think it’s a political party thing. The political party I speak for, PDP is working on producing a candidate through a transparent process. Whoever it’s that emerges at the end of the primary election becomes our candidate. The voting process is a thing of the people of the zone to decide. No external influence can be entertained. The voters at the party primary know the best person that can win the contest for our dear party and who can represent the zone creditably. This is my opinion.”

A critical stakeholder, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the calculations by power brokers in the Ebonyi South district that the positions of Deputy Governorship and the APC Chairmanship were currently held by the Old Afikpo Bloc and, there should be nothing for the Afikpo/Edda Federal Constituency, was wrong.

According to the source, “The Old Ohaozara Bloc should be politically magnanimous enough to let the Afikpo Bloc hold the Senate at this time. Everything can not be held back in the Ohaozara Bloc.

“Both the Afikpo and the Ohaozara Blocs co-own the Ebonyi South Zone. It’s very wrong to say the Afikpo Bloc currently has the State Championship of the APC and the Deputy Governorship. Occupiers of these positions can’t influence anything. This arrangement wasn’t in the interest of the Afikpo Bloc constituents; rather it was a political calculation to win elections by the APC as a party. Therefore, my take is that the Senate should come back to the Afikpo Bloc this time around “

Based on the tradition of power sharing already established in the Ebonyi South Zone from 1999 till date, the two federal constituencies in the Senatorial district constitute the main bases for power sharing. In other words, power has always been shared between the Ohanivo and the Afikpo/Federal Constituencies.

But a chieftain of the APC from the Ohaozara Bloc, Dr Mike Obaji, disagreed, adding it was mischievous for anybody to insinuate the Afikpo Bloc was being politically marginalised in the Ebonyi South Zone.

Obaji, who is also the Zonal Coordinator for Prof. Anthony Ani Support Group/Canvassers, said, “It’s mischievous for anyone to suggest that the old Afikpo Bloc is feeling marginalised when the exalted position of the state deputy governor is domiciled in Afikpo North LGA with numerous commissioners and SAs.

“If we count in retrospect, you remember the likes of Senator Agboti, Late Emmanuel Oko-Isu and numerous others that can’t be mentioned here for wont of time. If you move to Edda LGA, you’ll remember Distinguished Senators like Chief Sonny Ogbuoji and Michael Ama Nnachi, who were representatives in multiple tenures. They also have numerous commissioners and SAs to boast of.

“In fairness, the position of Senate for Ebonyi South would only return to the old Afikpo bloc after 2031.”

Findings reveal that for the Senate to come to the Afikpo/Edda Federal Constituency, the Old Afikpo Bloc needs a firebrand and charismatic politician who can appeal to the two divides. Consequence upon this candidate’s character and moral integrity, he can build the needed followership and drive required to overcome his opponents in the other bloc. The person must have the needed and contemporary political Resogimento and economic determinism to sustain his followership and prosecute his campaigns.

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