INJUSTICE TO ISUIKWUATO DISTRICT OF ABIA STATE: AN OVERSIGHT OR CALCULATED CAMPAIGN OF INJUSTICE AND OPPRESSION?
“Emee nwa ka emere Ibe ya, obi adi ya mma”, is a time -worn Igbo adage that harps on the peace and joy that derive from fairness, equity and justice. Nothing destroys, destabilizes and disgorges any entity or group of human endeavour or groupings like injustice. In the same vein, nothing heals, unites and makes a society progressive and egalitarian like justice, equity and fair play.
The story of the travails of Isuikwuato District of Abia state is actually pitiable as the district has been utterly marginalized and neglected in the affairs of the state. The sad thing is that if it was in the past, one will be gratified that the time for wrong doing is past and at least justice and equity will now be taking place with no more stupendous injustice and denial to the group by their own brothers being planned hatched unleashed and still continued to be unleashed.
A short trip into memory lane rightly shows that Abia state is a derivation of the acronym of the first letters of the four zones of Afikpo, Bende, Isuikwuato and Aba that make up the state. Each group contributed significantly without exception in material, financial and human resources to actualize the dream of having the state. In fact, the agitation for the state started in 1980 when the founding fathers of the state made up of wise men and women of unparalleled calibre, chiefs, elders and representatives of the various groups came together to agitate for the state. They metamorphosed into the movement for the creation of Abia state in 1983 under the leadership of late Dr. Iheonukara Okpara, the erstwhile dynamic late premier of Eastern Nigeria.
These wise men were like they foresaw tomorrow. They knew from experience about human foibles and that nothing tears apart any society like injustice, greed, love for domination of the strong over the weak etc. As a matter of fact, they were beneficiaries of these and other societal vices in their parent state which must have fuelled their agitation. They took very proactive steps to prevent these vices from occurring in their new dream state, thus, avoiding any potential cause of discord, injustice or avoidable agitation in the new state. With firm optimism and hope that they will succeed, they set out for the agitation for the new state, Abia first and foremost, by laying down guiding principles that will guide the governance of the envisaged new, dynamic and progressive state they envisioned. They called these guiding principles, ‘Abia charter of equity’.
Thus, in the envisaged new state, they produced a document that will help guide the state on a stable egalitarian and progressive path by enshrining rotation principle in principal offices and positions of the state among the four confederating zones in addition to equality in the distribution of the key political posts in the yet to be created state of Abia. In their wisdom, they enumerated the positions to be distributed/rotated to all the zones and even went as far as stating two positions that should not come from the same zone eg the governor and his deputy, the Attorney General and Chief Justice etc. The principal positions and posts they said in the Abia chatter of equity that will be rotated among the zones were the Governor, Deputy Governor, Speaker of the House of Assembly, Deputy Speaker, Chief Judge of the state, theAttorney General, the Chairman of the Civil Service Commission, the Chairman of the Local Government Service commission, Chairman of the Abia State Electoral Commission, Head of service and Secretary to the state government.
To God be the glory! The hopes and aspirations of these great men and women were realised when on 27th August, 1991 the then Head of state Major General Ibrahim Babangida created Abia state. Despite the fact that the good people from the Isuikwuato district of the state had piously and dutifully supported every administration of the state since its inception, none, had been appointed into any of the above positions since the return of democratic rule, in fact, since the creation of Abia state. Yes, since the creation of Abia state, no Isuikwuato district man or women of the state had been governor, deputy governor, Speaker or Deputy Speaker of the house of Assembley, Chief Judge of the State or Attorney General, Secretary to the State Government, Chairman Civil Service Commission, Chairman Local Government Commission etc. Yet these positions had been shared between the two remaining zones of Bende and Aba for five whole four-year tenures during our democratic dispensation amounting to fifty positions if you multiply the ten juicy positions in question in the four yearly tenure that our democratic governance is calibrated in. Can there be more injustice to a people from acclaimed brothers?
Yet as a people this same Isuikwuato district had, despite this glaring injustice, continued to work assiduously to make sure that the ship of Abia State keeps sailing by artfully and dutifully supporting every administration.
Is it that all the other former zones have men and women who can occupy these positions and Isuikwuato district does not? Of course No. instead, the district has brilliant, progressive and pragmatic sons and daughters who can turn around and pilot the state beautifully if given the opportunity as has been shown in our country Nigeria where the sons and daughters from the district are doing exploits for the country.
Nothing hurts and destabilizes any place like injustice. Even in producing the number one citizen of Abia State, no zone had been so unjustly treated like the Isuikwuato zone. The first short at the governorship position of the state during this democratic dispensation went to Afikpo zone with Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu elected as the first Civilian Governor of the State. Bende zone took their turn when Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu from Abia North senatorial zone became governor, served for eight years and handed over to Chief TA Orji also of Bende zone who served for eight years. The agitation and restless for justice to be done for people from the Aba zone who rightly claimed it was their turn to produce the governor was deafening since both from the point of Aba zone and being from Abia south senatorial district had not produced a governor for the state before.
Everbody who was a keen watcher of the state will attest that the state was headed for trouble if injustice was perpetrated and the governorship slot was not given to Aba Zone.
Peace reigned when Chief Theodore Orji in conjunction with other stakeholders of the ruling party statemanly pronounced that the governorship position of the state will go to the Aba zone – the Abia South Senatorial Zone. Peace reigned as they worked hard, despite efforts to distort the Abia Charter of Equity by other politicians, to make sure that the governorship position went to Aba Zone in the person of the present Governor Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu. It was also the same sense of justice, for which the Igboman is known, that also persuaded many that Dr. Ikpeazu should serve out his eight years as other governors from the other zones of Abia State did.
Now that all the zones and senatorial districts in Abia State had taken a short at the governorship position and it should rightly be expected to come back to Abia North, it is natural that the only zone that formed Abia State that had not produced a governor, the Isuikwuato district zone of Abia State should produce the next governor of the state and they should be supported to produce one by her brothers and sisters in other zones. Beyond zoning, going by merit, Isuikwuato district has many very capable, efficient, progressive and egalitarian sons and daughters that can take Abia State to the next level.
It is not that there will not be those politicians who will pretend not to know where and how the corpse was buried and will start exhuming it from the wrong part, what is important here is that all relevant Abia sons and daughters who hate injustice and want justice, equity and peace to reign in the state must join hands with our brothers and sisters from Isuikwato district to make sure that justice is done this time by allowing Isuikwuato district to produce the next governor of the state. ‘Emee nwa ka emere ibe ya, obi adi ya nma’ is a wise Igbo saying and it is apt here.
It is true that everybody is important in maintaining peace and justice in Abia but the role of the governor of the state, his Excellency Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu and other relevant stakeholders in the state especially the political stakeholders in the major political parties are very important. It took the pronouncement of Chief T.A Orji that equity must be maintained by allowing Aba zone to have a shot at the governorship slot thus, effectively implementing the principle of Abia Chatter of Equity, for justice to be done and all to work assiduously to see it’s actualization.
In the same vein, His Excellency Governor Okezie Ikpeazu and other relevant stakeholders, political and otherwise, have a very critical role to play to right the wrongs and injustice meted to Isuikwuator district in these past years and making sure that justice, fairness and equity are meted out to all the component zones that formed Abia State. They should support Isuikwuato district in this case by leading the cause of justice as was led by Chief T.A Orji for Aba zone. His Excellency’s policy statements, actions and body language will help in ensuring stability and contentment by all the component zones in Abia State by making sure that no zone is unjustly treated or denied what is due them as Isuikwuato District has been subjected to in the past.
Thank God the Governor is aware of Abia Charter of Equity. He was reported by Enyinnaya Appolos of vanguard newspaper of 7th March 2019 to have questioned the understanding of some prominent Abia sons trying to undermine the Abia Charter of Equity for political considerations, admonishing them to have a rethink and retrace their steps. The Abia Charter of equity, His Excellency told such political detractors, defines power sharing and leadership succession in the state. He further opined that people trying to undermine the Abia Charter of Equity lacked basic sense of social justice and equity and should not be allowed to breach the understanding, equity and justice which our fathers signed up in the Abia Charter of Equity at the creation of our dear state. His Excellency cannot be more correct. A word they say is enough for the wise.
Dr Chidi O. U. Esike