I have known Journalist Tony Icheku too well, to the extent that we share few things in common, including church programmes whenever he comes around the city of Umuahia from his abode in either Lagos or Abuja. Tony abhors infidelity, inconsistency, impunity and half truth; hence his incessant brawls with the authorities.
But his write-up in defence of the above leaves me imagining whether Tony has left his avowed fight against the ills of the society to the mundane.
For instance, Tony’s write-up tried in vain to justify the sudden change of the rotational principle or understanding amongst the federating local government areas of Ikwuano, Umuahia North and Umuahia South otherwise known as the Ikwuano/Umuahia Federal Constituency, attributing why Rep Sam Onuigbo was reelected to the House of Representatives to the “grace of God and some smart politicking”. One imagines how the Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Chinedum Orji, Col Austin Akobundu and other powerful forces in Ikwuano/Umuahia and Abia State, according Icheku would have unleashed a “coordinated attack” against him and Onuigbo survived it. If indeed these powerful forces started planning against him since 2017, why did they, at the approach of 2019 elections, suddenly stopped their attacks and gave him a ticket which he didn’t deserve a second time?
He titled his defence of Onuigbo thus, “Rep Sam Onuigbo’s Defection: Why Abia PDP ’ll Not Stop Weeping”. I’m not aware of any “weeping” in the camp of Abia PDP over his defection to APC as submitted by Tony. However, I know for sure that the PDP celebrated Rep Sam Onuigbo’s exit as soon as it was announced because some folks in the party saw him as a mole in their fold. Indeed, the State Chairman of the party, Asiforo Okere expressed this assertion when he spoke to journalists in Umuahia on Sunday, January 17, 2021.
In my earlier write-up, I tried to question why Rep Sam Onuigbo left PDP to another party without informing his constituents who sacrificed their peaceful and smooth understanding and arrangement to let him into the Green Chamber a second time. I reasoned that when half truth or indeed falsehood is presented as truth, some patriotic/concerned members of the society must shout “faah…faah…faah…foul”. In his defence of Rep Onuigbo, Tony Icheku forgot the maxim that says “truth fears no trial”.
He claimed that “impunity and the negation of Rule of Law that ranked high were some of the reasons the PDP lost the Presidency and Power at the federal level in 2015”. Is this not a self indictment of his boss who was then a ranking member of the party, both as Commissioner before becoming, Member of the House of Representatives? Was Rep Onuigbo excluded from the acts of impunity, atrocities and tyranny which PDP, in the eye of Tony Icheku, executed at the time, which he claimed made it lose 2015 Presidential election? Was he a mere onlooker in the so called Power Play?
Indeed, Tony’s write up failed to justify why Rep Sam Onuigbo, who was highly favoured in PDP jumped ship. I wanted see where the defence will attribute his decamping from PDP to a division in the party as the Electoral Act stipulates. But he failed woefully on this. Are impunity, atrocity and tyranny part of the provisions of the Act backing defections, assuming that there were something like in PDP? How would a man who was so favorably treated by his constituents by offering him a second chance in the House of Representatives, the first in Ikwauno/Umuahia history, suddenly turn and stabbed them at the back?
Hard work, political manoeuvring, smartness and grace of God helped him to win a second time to represent the people of Ikwuan/Umuahia? This is laughable and also ridiculous to say the least! Did he work harder than some aspirants who were also in the race and who, by reasons of zoning which favoured them, threw everything into the ring in order to fly the party’s flag? Tony pretended that he didn’t know that Onuigbo, with the help of power brokers in Ikwuano/Umuahia, ‘rob’ the people of Umuahia North their well deserved chance of having a bit at the Green Chamber. And that these power brokers stood their grounds and said Onuigbo must return? Or is he closer to God than the rest; some of whom had Prayer Warriors praying day and night for their success?
The truth of the matter is that Rep Sam Onuigbo left because he wanted a third term. And the avenue to achieve this was to move to another party. This was revealed at the Stakeholders Meeting held on Sunday to the consternation of all. And to realize this ambition, he threw his hat into the ring, part of it was his unsuccessful bid to hijack the party’s structure in Ikwuano. He got a few people in one of the meetings he held in his house to agree that PDP chairmanship position had been zoned to Ibere Clan. Though, there is an existing zoning arrangement in Ikwuano; an arrangement that does not favour any Clan against the other three Clans. It is a known fact that he sidetracked this arrangement to plant his stooge. Ikwuano, we all know, has four federating Clans of Oloko, Oboro, Ibere and Ariam/Usaka and each of these Clans is entitled to enjoy the same level of largesse as the others.
Now, Rep Sam Onuigbo during the March 2020 Congress of the PDP in Ikwuano LGA tried to foist on the party one Chukwuemeka Uchegbu as PDP Chairman from Ibere, his Clan. However, some of the stakeholders which Col Austin Akobundu rtd was among resisted that; informing him that Uchegbu’s Clan, Ibere had produced the chairmanship seat of PDP twice and that Ariam/Usaka where the current chairman, Obioma Igwe hails from has only produced Obioma Igwe as chairman, adding he (Obioma) should be allowed a second chance.
The decision of a Caucus/Stakeholders meeting held during that period was made bare to him which stated inter alia, “that any party officer who performed well may be reelected”. Part of the decision of the Cause/Stakeholders meeting was that since the chairman, Obioma Igwe had done well, he should be reelected. The Stakeholders further reasoned that Obioma Igwe’s reelection will enthrone equity, justice and fairness in Ikwuano PDP because his second term means two term for Ariam/Usaka.
Regrettably, this decision did not go down well with Rep Sam Onuigbo, who by the appellation of his Campaign catch phrase “Odozi Obodo” (meaning Justice, Fairness, Even Development in the Land) ought to have allowed justice, fairness and equity to prevail, but chose to drive his ambition with some unsuspecting members of Ikwuano PDP to cavity. He reported the matter to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, Senator TA Orji and the then PDP State chairman, late Johnson Onuigbo and so many personalities.
Like Tony acknowledged in his defence of Onuigbo, these personalities didn’t do much because they saw the truth in the decision of Ikwuano leaders which Col Austin Akobundu, the member representing Ikwuano state Constituency, TC Chairman of Ikwuano, his Deputy, Commissioner for Housing in Abia State etc were part of as sane and fair decision. They were convinced that the LG PDP exco emerged through a painstaking and transparent effort.
Interestingly, what Tony Icheku failed to understand is that Rep Sam Onuigbo wanted to singlehandedly plant the chairman Ikwuano PDP without the inputs of other Stakeholders which Tony sheered away from calling an appointment. To say it the umpteenth time, what Rep Sam Onuigbo is enjoying now has not been enjoyed by any politician in Ikwuano/Umuahia, dead or alive ie disrupting the zoning arrangement of the Federal Constituency which ultimately has now engendered confusion and acrimony as the constituents can no longer say whose turn it will be in 2023.
The conclusion of it all is that he merely wanted to introduce a nonexistent division and thereafter abandon it for “greener pastures” in another party. Tony said there was a resolution of the party which Col Akobundu refused to abide with. Is it a resolution of one man with some inconsequential party men and women held in his house? Would a meeting be held behind such chieftains of the party like Col Austin Akobundu, the lawmaker for Ikwuano State Constituency, TC Chairman of Ikwuano and his Deputy including the Commissioner for Housing in Abia State and others?
Even the issue of ranking which Rep Sam Onuigbo parroted as an advantage for Ikwuano/Umuahia people: have the people benefited from it? What is he in the House now? Is he not a Committee member; cascading from the position of Chairman, Climatic Change in the 8th Assembly to member of a Committee in the 9th Assembly? This is a mockery on Ikwuano/Umuahia people.
Tony accused Col Akobundu rtd of highhandedness without giving any instance. If Col Akobundu rtd had allowed his principal to have his way of muzzling the rest of the people and implanting his stooges, he would have been a Saint in the eyes of Tony Icheku. Also, Icheku failed to realize that when Rep Sam Onuigbo didn’t get his plan through at Ikwuano, he resorted to litigation.
He filed a case against PDP stakeholders of Ikwuano before Justice C.O. Onyeabo. Their complaint was that the group that filed the suit contested and won Ikwuano PDP Congress, but they were not sworn in. And in July 25, 2020, the learned Judge held that “the Constitution of a party confers powers and creates rights and limitations and that its members are bound by its provisions”.
Said he, “I also find that the said petition by the Claimants to the 2nd Defendant to desist from swearing in the 7th to 23rd Defendants as was alternately submitted by the Claimants/ Respondents’ Council is not so provided for, or supported by any provisions in the Constitution of PDP relied on by them
“In the result, the first and second Grounds of the Preliminary Objection of the Defendants/Respondents thus succeed. Having found as above stated, it is unnecessary to delve into the third and fourth Grounds of the Preliminary Objection as to do so would be an academic exercise in futility since any pronouncement on them will hold no practical value.
“The Preliminary Objection of the Defendants/Applicants is hereby upheld and the Claimants’ case is hereby struck out for want of jurisdiction”.
Finally, let me remind my friend, Tony Icheku, if he is not aware already, that Rep Sam Onuigbo’s modest achievements as federal lawmaker were buoyed up due mainly to the maverick and charismatic approach to legislative duties by the Senator representing Abia Central, Senator T A Orji, otherwise, he would have been an onlooker in the Green Chamber.
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.