When the 2015 general elections commenced and a few sons and daughters of Arochukwu origin showed interest at various levels, many Aros had welcomed the development and hoped that such candidates would win. Under the arrangement, two candidates emerged from Atani (Arochukwu). Hon. MAO Ohuabunwa (of the PDP) was contesting to become the senator for Abia North Senatorial zone where Arochukwu belongs. Another Atani son, Sir Chikwe Udensi, (of the PPA) had emerged the governorship candidate in the state under that party. Chijioke Okoro (of the PDP; from Ugbo village) emerged the candidate of that party for Arochukwu constituency while Mazi Chibuike Jonas emerged the PPA candidate for Arochukwu constituency too.
The stage was, therefore, set for the Aros to ‘belong’ in the 2015 general election. Many Aros had believed that out of those contestants that had passed their parties’ primaries, some would be elected – thus, it was expected that Arochukwu would produce a senator, a governor, and a house of assembly member. But by the time the election results were announced by INEC in Abia State, only MAO emerged victorious. Others failed. Sir Chikwe Udensi came third in the governorship election – polling about 45,000 votes. Dr Alex Otti came second to Dr Okezie Ikpeazu of the PDP. Dr Alex Otti polled 180,882 votes (though he insists that he and his party were rigged out of success in the election).
The PDP candidate of Arochukwu constituency nearly every right-thinking person of Arochukwu origin had wanted to represent the constituency in Abia House of Assembly (since 1950s when SG Ikoku – now late – did so last), Mazi Chijioke Okoro did not win; he was defeated by Mr. Lukeman Ukara of APGA. Ukara hails from Abam, the community that has represented the constituency in that capacity since 1999.
Following the development, Aro News sampled the opinions of some Aro sons and daughters on why it turned out that way. In his answer, Mr Monday Ikpo from Obinkita, blamed it on ‘political miscalculation and immaturity.’ According to him, ‘the small and sparsely populated town of Arochukwu should not have fielded two governorship candidates at the same time. The town would have fielded one governorship candidate. In other words, one of the two candidates from the same village that contested the governorship election should have stepped down for the other, particularly the PPA candidate. I had expected that to happen about one week to the governorship election, in which case the one that stepped down could have collapsed his structures to favour the other. By fielding two governorship candidates from the same village and town, one senatorial candidate, and two house of assembly candidates, Arochukwu was greedy and behaved like Oliver Twist. It should not have been so. That singular act portrayed the entire Arochukwu kingdom in very bad light.’
Another respondent, Mrs. Rita Onwumere, a resident of Port Harcourt and an Arochukwu indigene, said: “When I think about Arochukwu and what happened during the last general elections, I tend to ask death why it took away Eze Aro, Mazi Kanu Oji (CFR). If Eze Kanu Oji were still alive, he would not have allowed ‘the jokes’ Umu Aro performed in fielding multiple candidates as they did. Why should a village in Arochukwu field three candidates for different positions in one election? Since PPA was a ‘dead party’ in Abia State, the governorship candidate of that party should have stepped down for his brother, Alex Otti. Again, since Dr. Otti and APGA was the reigning party in the entire Arochukwu LGA and was sure of victory in the area, the party would have fielded a candidate for Arochukwu constituency from Arochukwu Urban. I am not happy that Arochukwu Urban failed again to produce Abia House of Assembly member; we have failed to produce more than 40 years ago. This shows we are really jinxed.”
In his own assessment, John Okoro Odo of Ugwuakuma village blamed the ‘so-called Arochukwu leaders for what happened to Arochukwu politically. I had expected the leaders of Arochukwu and Okpamkpo members to have called all the Aro contestants in the elections and apportion positions to them and talk them into avoiding contesting positions in different parties. Those in ‘dead parties’ would have been asked to step down for those in vibrant parties. I heard that Chikwe Udensi moved caterpillars and began re-constructing roads in Aba as part of his campaign strategies. This is a shame, to me. If he had the money to re-construct Aba roads, why hadn’t he done so to the only tarred road he drives on to his Atani (Arochukwu) home from Ohafia that has turned into a death trap now? In fact, I am happy that he lost – and came a distant third in the governorship election! If the votes he garnered in the ‘dead PPA’ had been given to Alex Otti, he would have gone through; his APGA party also produced 12 of the 24 members of Abia State House of Assembly whereas the PPA did not produce even one! Dr Otti has proved he is a great man – even if he does not become Abia governor in the end. He has really tried. He has proved to be a great man,” Odo concluded.
Another respondent, who did not want his name printed, said Chijioke Okoro would have decamped to APGA when he noticed that APGA governorship candidate, Dr Otti, was very popular in Arochukwu, having endeared himself to the people. He said by remaining in PDP that had failed Abians through Chief T A Orji was not only foolhardy, but also myopic on his part. Meanwhile, a cross-section of the people of Arochukwu advised the in-coming government of Dr Okezie Ikpeazu to be careful to the choice of those he will be appointing into his government from Arochukwu so that ‘he will not be deceived later.’