‘At 25, Abia yet to fulfill aspirations of founding fathers’
Amidst the downpour on Saturday, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu and the people of Abia State trooped to the capital city, Umuahia, to mark the 25th anniversary of the state, which was created by the military administration of General Ibrahim Babangida, on August 27, 1991.
Present at the event were the immediate past governor and Senator representing Abia Central, Chief Theodore Orji and his wife, Mercy and other dignitaries.
Ikpeazu, of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), in his address said the event should be used to take stock and a review of where the state was coming from while setting a clear agenda for where it is heading.
Describing the downpour as a special blessing, the governor said the mere fact that it started shortly after the church service, held at Okpara auditorium in Umuahia and presided over by Senior Pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist, Bassey Udom, was an indication things would be well with state in the nearest future.
At the service, the state was re-dedicated to God while prayers were offered for its leaders and all those who fought for its creation.
The cleric also remembered those who contributed and were still contributing to the growth and sustenance of the state in prayers. Notable indigenes also paid glowing tributes to the state.
In his remarks, the Chairman, State Advisory Council and one of the founding fathers of Abia, Eze Ogo, Dr. Anagha Ezeikpe said the main reason that informed the founding fathers to come together to request for the creation of Abia was that the three segments signed to an agreement in good faith stipulating their fears on the mode of sharing positions and amenities in the then proposed Abia State “the agreement was titled ‘The Charter of Equity For the Proposed Abia State’.”
According to him, “The founding fathers of this state were confronted with difficulties, which included the fear of dominion of one segment against the other. The original components were Aba, Bende, Isuikwuato district that was in Okigwe divisions and Afikpo.
“Afikpo was taken away to create Ebonyi State. The remaining components divided into three to constitute the three political senatorial zones in Abia State.”
Ezeikpe’s deputy, Sir Chief Bob Ogbuagu in his remark said notwithstanding the usual political gymnastics associated with democratic set ups the world over, Abia has continued its steady march into visible well-grounded, transparent and acceptable democratic governance.”
Governor Ikpeazu who admitted that the state has not fulfilled all the aspirations of its founding fathers, said that remarkable progress has been made and still being made.
According to him, “I have no doubt the state’s founding fathers would be glad to know that today, a man from the Ukwa Ngwa axis of Abia is the governor, which was in agreement with their aspiration for just and equitable distribution of political power in the state.”
The governor noted that the power rotation was a major milestone “because by this singular action, every citizen of Abia, from all the quarters of the state, can confidently aspire to the leadership position in the full knowledge that they enjoy the full rights and benefits of an egalitarian state united by a shared history and confidently marching towards a shared future.”
Ikpeazu also dedicated the anniversary to a call for unity and healing in the state, saying: “I am still aware that as a result of the circumstances of electoral politics in the state over time, we are experiencing some bitterness and acrimony.”
Said he: “A lot of people felt aggrieved and till date, some wounds of pain are still open. I am therefore taking responsibility as the governor and the custodian of the mantle of this state, to urge all who are aggrieved for one reason or another, to let go of the pain and let the past remain the past. We pull together, we succeed together, we stand for each other and we take the glory together.”
Speaking on what his administration has achieved despite the challenges facing it, Ikpeazu said, “Notwithstanding the prevailing harsh difficult economic realities militating against our capacity to fully meet government obligations, this administration has successfully and visibly intervened in road construction, health, education, housing, agriculture, environment and other critical sectors. We also prioritised agriculture, which is one of the five pillars that have been sustaining our developmental plans aside Health, Education, Commerce and Industry, oil and gas, infrastructural and institutional development.”
Since its creation, five military governors namely then Group Captain Frank Ajobena, Colonels Ike Nwosu, Moses Fasanya, Anthony Obi and Navy Captain Temi Ejoor and three civilian governors – Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, Chief Theodore Orji and now Okezie Ikpeazu, have ruled Abia.