Our 2015 quagmiry political fool hardiness must not recur!

Ogbonnaya Akoma

In the 2015 general election, Arochukwu town had produced and fielded two gubernatorial candidates; one senatorial candidate and two house of assembly candidates! Dr Alex Otti ran for the gubernatorial position under the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA. Under the platform of the Progressive People’s Alliance, PPA, Chief Chikwe Udensi contested for that position too. Both Otti and Udensi hail from the same village in Arochukwu -Atani.

Then, under the banner of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Dr Monday Arukwe Ohuabunwa ran for a seat in the Nigerian Senate. He is also from Atani village. Then, yet again, under the same political party, Mazi  Chijioke Okoro ran for a seat in Abia State House of Assembly (he is from Ugbo village), just as Hon Chubuike Jonas (from Isimkpu village) ran for the same position under the platform of the PPA. So, in all, the nineteen-village town of Arochukwu had two governorship candidates, one senatorial candidate, and two house of assembly candidates, and all of them had hoped and expected, as every Nigerian politician will always do, to win! In point in fact, Arochukwu town, with a few thousand number of registered voters, had shared her small number of votes among APGA and PPA governorship contestants.

Arochukwu had also been expected to vote for her son-senatorial aspirant then in PDP, in addition to voting for her two Abia House Assembly son-candidates, Chijioke Okoro and Chibuike Jonas. So, Arochukwu had a plethora of political contestants to contend with in 2015 – yes, in all, Arochukwu had produced five political contestants in a general election!

In the end, the 2015 general elections came and went. All but one of the named contestants failed in their electoral attempts. It was only MAO that passed and become the senator for Abia North senatorial district-with, of course, the help of voters from other parts that make up the senatorial district (five LGA’s); but the people of Arochukwu had voted for their five son-contestants, with Dr Otti having more of the votes in the gubernatorial election. The situation was, to be frank, not the best option for Arochukwu. This is the essence of this write-up.

As the 2019 general election draw nearer with the passage of each new day, it becomes pertinent and momentous here that we draw attention to the quagmiry political fool hardiness the contesting politicians and the voters had suffered in 2015 in order to guard against such an embarrassing situation next quarter when the elections come. The right thing is that some aspirants have to drop their ambition for others.

Yes; analytically, many political watchers and participants had made a jest of the people of Arochukwu in 2015 because of the plethora of contestants we had. Such people laughed at us that two gubernatorial candidates came from one village in the sparsely-populated town of Arochukwu! The implication was that the small number of voters in the town had to share their votes among the two gubernatorial son-candidates.

Again, those voters had to share their votes, too, among the PDP ABHA contestant and that of the PPA. In the end, it was disastrous that only one of our son-contestants was elected! The other four failed. It was really bad and awful. While many political watchers had given no chance to our two gubernatorial candidates in 2015 election, nearly every Aro man and woman had hoped that Dr MAO and Mazi Chijioke Okoro would emerge victorious. But that did not happen, as only the former was elected. The hope of Arochukwu producing a member of Abia State House of Assembly for the first time (since the days of SG Ikoku in the First Republic) was dashed.

This should not happen again in 2019. Since Sen MAO had emerged the PDP senatorial candidate for Abia North and another Aro man had emerged the APGA candidate for ABHA respectively, no other senatorial and house of assembly candidate should emerge from any other major party in Arochukwu. This will enable us to vote in block for Sen MAO and the Abia House of Assembly candidate so that the duo will emerge victorious. Arochukwu direly needs to produce the next ABHA member. No Aro man has represented Arochukwu constituency since after the Nigeria-Biafra civil war. This means that for more than fifty years now, people from the other four clans have been representing Arochukwu constituency –in East Central State, Imo State and now Abia State. We have continued to ‘contest for governor;’ thus, forcing Arochukwu into opposition politics all along with the dire consequences on the people and the town.

We expect this to change in 2019; and all of us, individually and collectivity, should work towards it. We deserve the change in this regard.

We still lack grassroots leadership!

Grassroots leadership means a lot to communities and even governments, politicians. Grassroots leadership contrasts with foreign-based, hoisted and foisted leadership. I had written about this in the past in Aro News. Then, I had drawn attention to the fact that the main problem facing Arochukwu town in achieving development (and, indeed, many of her villages) was lack of grassroots leadership – only those based in Aba, Abuja, Lagos, Kano, London and US ‘lead’ the town when they return home. I had bemoaned hoisted and foisted leadership on the town. In that article, I had pointed out that the moment those who lived in Lagos, Abuja, Cameroon, London, New York, et cetera returned to their bases after Ikeji, Christmas and Easter festivities, nothing happened next in the leadership in Arochukwu, and that the town tilted towards being next to a cemetery in existence! I had warned how many (it not all) of the villages (and even our palace) relied on hoisted and foisted leadership on the town.

Yes, I had recollected and pointed out what the late Mazi John Obinali Nnanna (the first administrative secretary of Nzuko Arochukwu and my former teacher at ACPS, Amuvi, Arochukwu in 1973) had said about foisted and hoisted leadership on Arochukwu in 1987. As that year’s Ikeji was fast- approaching, Mazi Nnanna had, while soliloquising as he worked into the premises of Arochukwu local government at Baraki, sighed aloud and bemoaned the situation where ‘Nothing will be done in Aro until those in Lagos return,’ as he later confided to me as his former pupil while I was serving at Arochukwu. The Mazi was really unhappy that those at home had to wait indefinitely for those outside to return and organise such events as the Ikeji.

That situation in 1987 still obtains today. Today, Arochukwu still lacks grassroots leadership, and has continued to rely on hoisted and foisted leadership from Abuja, Lagos, Sokoto, name that place! This is why the town lacks real progress, and the time to end this retrogressive step is now. The catalytical structural leadership of the town must be home-based as what obtains everywhere else.

About author

Ogbonnaya Akoma

Public health practitioner/public affairs commentator
Trans-Amadi Layout, Port Harcourt, Rivers State

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