If the meeting between members of Abia Central People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and former governor Sen. Theodore Orji went as planned, his son, Engr. Chinedum Orji, would emerge as the party’s gubernatorial candidate in 2023.
Rumours have been rife about the Abia State Speaker’s (Chinedum Orji) governorship ambition since last year when he started erecting grassroots political structures in the 17 local government areas of the state. But multiple sources within the corridors of power who are seemingly in the know waved them aside.
According to them, the speaker’s 2023 gubernatorial ambition is a deliberate ploy to frustrate the ambition of popular Ngwa son, Mr Nanaa Nwafor, to succeed Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.
However, things took a different dimension last Saturday when former deputy chief of staff Chief Charles Ogbonna led some PDP stalwarts to the residence of immediate past governor Sen. T. A. Orji.
A reliable source told The Realm News that the visit was to compel Ochendo, as Orji is fondly called, to persuade Governor Ikpeazu to return power to Abia Central instead of Abia North.
“The move is to ensure the emergence of the speaker Engr. Chinedum Orji as the governor in 2023,” our source said.
He added, “the excited Ochendo asked if they would pursue and make their demand a reality if he compels Governor Ikpeazu to accede.”
He said the party stalwarts assured him of their readiness to deliver the governorship to Ikuku, as Chinedum Orji is popularly called, and in response, Ochendo promised to convene same to Governor Ikpeazu.
But one of the delegates, Chief O. B. Aguocha, demanded commitment from Ochendo. He wanted to be assured that the Federal House of Representatives position that falls within his constituency by the virtue of the PDP zoning formula will not be receded to Chinedum Orji if they failed in the plot to make him governor.
Our source, however, said he could not confirm if Aguocha’s wish was granted immediately.
But it seemed trouble is brewing on the horizon over the visit as Col. Austin Akobundu (retd) was said to be fuming on hearing of the plan.
We learned that the retired military officer heard the information from former Ikwuano local government chairman Mrs Ngozi Oji who was at the meeting.
“Ochendo had earlier assured Col. Akobundu of the PDP gubernatorial ticket and he (Akobundu) has started consultations already,” our source said.
When contacted, one of the delegates, Hon. Kelechi Onuzuruike, refuted the information. He said the meeting was to see how Umuahia North, South and Ikwuano could form a synergy and muster a large number of votes that could determine who becomes governor in 2023.
He said, “it is not true; I was part of the delegation that went to intimate Ochendo of our agenda because we, in Ikwuano/Umuahia Federal Constituency have been meeting.
“We are not the only ones meeting. Our brothers from Abia North and Umunneato Ngwa axis of Abia Central have been meeting also.
“We went to tell him (Ochendo) that in case he heard that we have been meeting; that it is true. Our agenda is to pull our people together with 2023 on our mind. We want to unite and also be a powerhouse and muster a massive number of votes just as the Obingwas to decide where the governorship will go.”
According to him, the first meeting was held at Barr. Chris Ezem’s house while they met the next day (Sunday) at Dr Aham Uko’s house. He said another meeting will be held at Col Akobundu’s house.
The delegates led by Chief Charles Ogbonna included Mr Emma Nwabuko, Hon. Kelechi Onuzuruike, Hon. Jerry Uzosike, Chief O. B. Aguocha, Mrs Ngozi Oji, Alhaji Suleiman Ukandu, Chief Kingsley Megwara, Dr Aham Ukom, Barr. Chris Ezem as well as Umuahia North, South and Ikwuano PDP chairmen.
We gathered that they arrived at Ochendo’s Azikiwe Street palatial home Saturday evening from Ohafia where they attended the burial of late deputy chief of staff Chief Ukpai Agwu Ukpai.
It remains unclear whether or not Governor Ikpeazu would go ahead with the plot to enthrone Chinedum Orji or any other candidate for that matter.
Recall that the governor had in an exclusive interview with The Realm News said he would not entertain questions about who will succeed him in 2023. According to him, God in his time will make everything right.
Although he was reserved on the question, he admitted that there were pressures from some individuals on him to modify the PDP zoning formula.
He said, “the aspirations of my brothers from Abia North are valid and the thinking of some people who also want power in some section of Abia Central is also valid.
“Until we get to that point, I will talk to those who are from different political families and ourselves about what is the right thing to do.
He, however, added, “I do not think the attempts of governors to foist successors on people have succeeded 100 per cent.”