The impulse that drove the Abia State Movement in the 1980s was the theme of brotherhood and inclusiveness—Onyeaghalanwanne Ya. This concept resonated with many sections of the former Imo State that decided to make a common cause with the founders of the Movement. The desire for a level playing field, the thirst for inclusiveness, and even the development of all segments of the associate communities led to the scripting of The Abia Charter of Equity on August 31, 1980.
Abia State was then a mere dream, an imaginary haven of peace and plenty flowing with the legendary “milk and honey”, a land of human kindness and empathy, the opposite of a dystopian society. Every reality is indeed an opportunity waiting to be born. Our elders seized the opportunity and made it work. New names were proposed for the state, such as Ofeimo, Aji, and Enyimba. These were properly scrutinized but were dropped because of their negative connotations. A brand-new name had to be found, belonging to none, but owned by all. The name ABIA, coined by the late Dr Anagha Ezikpe, had a unanimous acceptance. It remained for Dr Michael I. Okpara to enunciate and explain how the new brand came about and its constitutive relevance: A stands for Old Aba Division; B stands for Old Bende Division; I stands for Isuikwuato Division, and A stands for Old Afikpo Division.
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We need not dwell on the biblical connotation of the name Abia, because it did, in no way influence the nomenclature and its choice. That was, why perhaps, Dr Okpara did not make heavy weather of it, the way the later generation seems to be doing. It was, indeed one of the Children of Solomon, Rehoboam to be exact, that sired Abia. That the first civilian governor of Abia State, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu used the sobriquet or nickname or epithet ‘God’s Own State’ to refer to the Abia of his dream should not bewitch us in terms of what is on the ground today. America is also ‘God’s Own Country’, and is closer to that ascription and aspiration.
Geographically Abia represents a collective of two senatorial divisions and a district. The two senatorial zones were Umuahia and Aba. The district was Isuikwuato.
It is only a moral people, the likes of the Okparas, the Mbakwes, and Nnamdi Azikiwes that can advance, shape, and bring into birth a good and renascent Abia society. Fortunately, there are competent, upwardly mobile individuals in Abia who can lift the state from its squalor and dysfunctionality, people whose biography go beyond a political address. These people can also be found in the Isuikwuato District, whose turn, unarguably, it is to produce the next governor, going by the rotation clause in the Abia Charter of Equity. In this regard, we urge all the antagonists of the rotation principle embedded in the Charter of Equity to sheath their symbolic guns or machetes and let us give Isuikwuato District a chance to produce the next governor of Abia State.
Prof Ihechukwu Chiedozie Madubuike, a former Minister and Enyi Abia, writes from Abuja
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