By Okey Uwanamodo in Aba.
The 92nd Birthday Anniversary celebration of the Chairman of Ohaneze Ndigbo Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Dr. Isaac Ikonne, held recently in Aba became a platform for frank talk as Eze Ikonne boldly told APC gubernatorial candidate Uche Ogah to his face that he will not support Ogah’s bid to run for governorship against the current governor, Okezie Ikpeazu of the PDP.
The well attended birthday party, graced by APC national Chieftains including former Governor of Abia State and currently serving Minister of Science and Technology in Buhari’s government, Chief Ogbonnaya Onu, the former minister of Labour, Chief Emeka Nwogu, the APC Candidate for Aba Federal Constituency, Chief Mascot Uzor Kalu amongst several APC stakeholders, brought a shocker to the guests, and to the candidacy of Uche Ogah who had hitherto believed that he enjoyed the complete support of the very influential royal father .
Analysts had presumed that Eze Ikonne, a one-time Chairman of the Council of Traditional Rulers of Southeast Nigeria, and also a former chairman of Abia State Council of Ndieze, will throw his weight behind Ogah because he, Ikonne, enjoys a visibly close relationship with the APC and is a known confidante of President Muhammadu Buhari.
However, this declaration made by the royal father at his birthday party, a few days to the scheduled visit of President Buhari to Aba, comes as a huge blow to the aspirations of Uche Ogah. This is even more so because a perusal of the itinerary of the President’s visit to Aba on Tuesday, showed that the President will spend some time in the palace of Eze Ikonne before going to the Enyimba Stadium for the APC presidential rally. Since 2003, President Muhammadu Buhari regularly visits and spends quality time with Eze Ikonne whenever he, Buhari, is in Abia state. The traditional ruler was an arrowhead of Buhari’s campaign in 2014, and has been a guest of the president at the Aso Rock Villa several times since Buhari became president in 2015.
Shocking political pundits, Eze Ikonne hinged his support for Okezie Ikpeazu on equity and fairness, pointing out that Abia North and Abia Central had served out two terms each through Governors Orji Kalu and Theodore Orji, and emphasized that it is only fitting that Okezie Ikpeazu who is from Abia South zone, be allowed to do two terms in order to create political equilibrium. Eze Ikonne added that in spite of several challenges, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has done reasonably well as governor since he assumed office in 2015.
The first-class traditional ruler, who has spent 46years on the throne, used the occasion of his birthday to thank God for granting him long life and thanked his guests for doing him the honours.
Eze Ikonne also used the occasion to confer honours on respectable citizens of Nigeria including, the wife of the Governor of Abia State, Mrs. Nkechi Ikpeazu.
Journalists who sought Uche Ogah’s reaction to the declaration by Eze Ikonne came up blank, as the APC Gubernatorial Candidate did not make any response to the issue before he left the palace of Eze Ikonne.
Some confusion has been thrown into the Ogah camp about how best to handle the unexpected development. An anonymous source said the APC candidate is focusing on the forthcoming presidential visit and how to better promote his candidacy before Buhari, especially in the backdrop of the huge setback brought about by Eze Ikonne’s stance.