All is set for Saturday’s by-election in Aba North/Aba South Federal Constituency.
Barring any last-minute change in plans, voters will head to the polls to choose the next person that will represent the constituency in the House of Representatives.
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The seat became vacant following the death of Ossy Prestige, who died in a German hospital on February 6, 2021.
Prestige, who was a member of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), was first elected into the lower legislative chamber of the National Assembly in 2015.
With his demise, many parties are struggling to control the constituency, wherein lies the commercial heartbeat of not just Abia but the entire Southeast.
Here is a highlight of some of the gladiators who will shape the election.
The former Governor and the Senate Chief Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu, recently visited one of the five local government areas that make up Abia North Senatorial District, Isikwuato, where he gave out some items to the people of the area.
In a veiled reference to Eyinnaya Abaribe, lawmaker representing Abia South, Kalu told the people he believes representation is not about making noise and speaking big grammar in the Red Chamber.
Aside from numerous road rehabilitation and construction, electricity and water projects attracted by the Senate Chief Whip and Senator representing Abia North, Kalu has identified with the people.
Before Kalu became the Senator for Abia North, the people hardly knew who their senators were except in the news.
They never had the feel or benefits of having a representative.
He has attracted road rehabilitation to Isiugwu and Abia communities in Ohafia Local Government Area.
He also attracted the ongoing rehabilitation of Amuke –Asaga-Ohafia road.
The motorised borehole project is currently working to provide water for Ebem Ohafia after many years without success.
The people of Umunneochi have Senator Kalu’s electricity project just as Acha in Isuikwuato council area enjoys rehabilitated roads.
The list is endless. Yet, it appears as if it is just the beginning.
Across the five local government areas in his constituency – Arochukwu, Bende, Isuikwuato, Ohafia and Umunneochi- that make up Abia North senatorial district, Kalu has made indelible imprimatur in the areas and personal lives of the people.
The former Abia governor invested in Enyimba football club which gave several opportunities to youths of the state.
He empowered transporters, gave money to women and youths to start small businesses, in which a lot of these beneficiaries are situated in Aba.
His younger brother, Mascot, is the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the election.
Abaribe is popularly know in Aba as “Igbo Voice in the Senate” and youths refer to him as “Igbo Senator”
Courage is the word that first comes to mind as you contemplate the phenomenon and exciting trajectory of Enyinnaya Harcourt Abaribe.
Courage came to mind as he spoke with love in his heart for his people. Abaribe became a beautiful bride in 2017 when he spoke vehemently against the alleged killings of the Igbos by the military during Operation Python Dance, came out publicly to condemn the killing of IPOB members, spoke in favour of the Igbos.
Aba can be regarded as a second home of IPOB agitators. During the election, he said, ” The Igbo man doesn’t kneel for anybody except his Chi”. ‘Chi’ is an Igbo word for ‘a god’.
Abaribe said, “We did not vote the IG of police, we did not vote the Chief of Staff, or other security chiefs, we voted the government of APC in 2015 and re-elected them in 2019 because they told us they have the key to security
“Today, the APC government has failed because people are being killed anyhow. If you want to deal with a matter, you first go to the head.We can go to the APC government and ask this government to resign. “And we want to tell the government that if it does not resign, we shall have no option than to go with stones to pursue it.”
Abaribe signed the bond for the court to release Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB leader, on bail. This has increased the love an average Igbo has for Abaribe; the people are ready to put smiles on his face by granting any requests made by him to his people.
Aba people love Abaribe, Aba people see him as the only senator in the state who is seen as a brother, not a “bought over” by the powers that be. Abaribe is in the Senate for the third time.
Okezie Ikpeazu (the Governor)
Of course, nobody can underrate the power of an incumbent governor in an election. This is the governor’s domain. He’s an “Aba boy”, he lives in Aba, he sees the people daily, interacts with them daily, worships with his brothers and sisters in the same church, listens to their complaints, provides faster solution to their problems. He calls them “Umu nnem”, meaning “my blood brothers and sisters.”
The governor has been accused severally of favouring Aba people in terms of road projects, bridges, hospitals, even appointments into key positions in his government including empowerment.
He’s always at home with his people, walks freely on the streets of Aba, shares books to students on the streets.
He is described as “Made in Aba Governor”. His campaign for made-in-Aba products is next to none. His clothes are produced by Aba tailors. He has sent plenty Aba boys and girls to China to learn automated shoemaking, and provides scholarships.
He has constructed several roads in Aba, including the controversial Osusu road. The people see him daily. Any political party underestimating his influence on Aba does that at their peril.
Uche Sampson Ogah (APC)
Fondly called “Master” by his people, he’s the minister of State for Mines and Steel Development.
An oil magnate, entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist, Ogah is the President of Master Energy Group, a conglomerate with over 15 subsidiaries and interests across a variety of industries.
Ogah employed a lot of Abians, his scholarship scheme has produced a lot of graduates whose relatives are in Aba.
Ogah is loved for his simplicity, empowerment programmes, cash donations, and church projects he embarked upon and completed.
He carries influence with youth, but he’s from a different senatorial district.
One thing is clear, any party that emerges victorious in the election will not beat its opponent with a wide margin as the situation on ground shows that it will be too close to call.