Umuahia, the capital city of Abia State, was agog on Friday, June 1, 2018, as the people of Old Bende bloc of the State trooped out in their numbers to declare support and endorse the governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu for a second term in a grand reception and rally they organized for him at the city’s open air Event Centre, Michael Okpara Square, Umuahia.
The expansive venue which was filled to capacity had Abians from Arochukwu, Bende, Ikwuano, Isuikwuato, Ohafia, Umunneochi, Umuahia North and Umuahia South, the eight local government areas that made up the Old Bende bloc, members of the clergy, traditional rulers, political office holders, captains of industry, various women and youth groups and students, in attendance.
Eulogies poured in for the governor as speaker after speaker commended him for the developmental strides he has brought to the state.
In his speech, the Deputy Governor and Chairman of the Organizing Committee, Sir. Ude Oko Chukwu said that the people of the Old Bende decided to honour the Governor in appreciation of his giant strides in the governance of Abia State.
A very long list of his achievements was recounted by the people who said that based on his performance so far which they said is unprecedented in Abia State, “even if Dr Okezie Ikpeazu would not want to contest, we would get a court injunction to compel him to go for a second term”, one of the speakers said.
Senator Theodore A. Orji who led other members of the National Assembly of Abia State extraction to the event, said he was particularly happy that the man he supported to succeed him as governor of the State is doing very well. He further said that he would have been a sad man if Ikpeazu was not performing because, according to him, “There is no success in life without a good successor”.
Others who spoke in the same vein included Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, Chief Sam Onuigbo, Sir. Cosmos Ndukwe, Hon. Chinedum Orji, Eze Godwin Chionye who led the Old Bende Traditional Rulers Council which included the former Chairman of Abia State and South East Council of Traditional Rulers, His Eminence, Eze Ezo Ukandu, The Enyi na Obiangwu 1 of Imenyi Kingdom, , members of Abia State House of Assembly, representatives of the clergy, women and youth.
The people endorsed Governor Okezie Ikpeazu for a second term in office, and agreed that nobody from the Old Bende area should run for governorship against him in 2019.
It would be recalled that the people of Ukwa-Ngwa bloc, comprising the other 9 LGAs in the state had also, in March, endorsed Governor Ikpeazu for a second term at the Ukwa-Ngwa rally held for him at Isialangwa North.
According to a communique signed by leaders of Old Bende and read by foremost industrialist and elder statesman, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, the people expressed satisfaction and appreciation to the governor for embarking on various developmental projects in their area and other parts of the state and called him to continue in office for a second term as his performance is enough to compel all Abians to support his re-election in 2019.
The full text of the communique reads:
“Whereas the People of Old Bende spanning from the ancient civilization of Arochukwu to the Warrior clans of Ohafia and Bende, the marshlands of Isuikwuato to the hills of Umunneochi, the agrarian communities of Ikwuano to the indefatigable political titans of Umuahia North and culminating in the dynamic people of Umuahia South, have always shared a destiny bound by indelible history and dexterous political alignment.
“Whereas titans of Old Bende extraction were in the forefront of the creation of Abia State expending financial, material and sagacious resources to guarantee the actualization of the dream of the creation of Abia State.
“Whereas the Old Bende people have enjoyed a fair share of political power in Abia State and the people of Old Bende have always shared a bond of political consanguinity and affinity with their brothers from Ukwa/Ngwa.
“Whereas it was this historic bond that necessitated the people of Old Bende agreeing enmasse and indeed, working assiduously to ensure that a son of Ukwa/Ngwa emerged Governor of Abia State in 2015 in consonance with the Spirit of equity
“Whereas having observed the leadership strides of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu from 2015 till date, the people of Old Bende are more than impressed by the depth of dynamism and sagacity he has brought to governance in Abia State and do not have any cause to regret supporting him for the Governorship of Abia State in 2015
“Whereas his massive infrastructural development drive has been a beauty to behold coupled with his indefatigable strides in other sectors of the Abia economy.
“Whereas Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu has taken great steps to develop the Old Bende axis with verifiable projects that have improved the living standards of the people of Old Bende.
“Whereas Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu has given hope to the people of Old Bende and Abians in general that as morning shows the day, his early strides have enamoured hope of a glorious future for Abia State.
“That the entire people of Old Bende are satisfied with the performance of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu in the last 3 years he has presided over the affairs of Abia State.
“That the entire people of Old Bende have resolved to and do hereby pass a vote of unequivocal confidence in the leadership direction of the Okezie Ikpeazu administration.
“That the entire people of Old Bende do hereby, without hesitation, adopt Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu as their consensus candidate for the 2019 governorship election in Abia State.
“That we urge all Governorship candidates of Old Bende origin to jettison any plans of contesting for the Governorship of Abia State in the 2019 Governorship Elections in Abia State.
“That the entire people of Old Bende hereby assure Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu of their bloc votes at the 2019 Governorship elections.”
Responding to the endorsement and speeches by leaders of the Old Bende people at the well attended rally, Governor Ikpeazu promised to continue working for the unity and development of Abia State, and to ensure that mistakes of the past are corrected.
“I can’t thank Old Bende People enough for this show of love and support. I promise you that my team and I will not relent in working for the unity and development of our dear state to the envy of others. I must bequeath an Abia State which every of her citizens will be proud of. We will not take this show of love by Old Bende for granted. I promise you on behalf of my team, that we will not let you down.”
Highlights of the occasion were the conferment of chieftaincy title of Omekaozuoha of Old Bende by traditional rulers of the area and the display of the people’s rich cultural heritage.