Former Chief of Army Staff, GENERAL AZUBUIKE IHEJIRIKA set to join Abia guber race


Immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Azubuike Ihejirika, is set to run for Abia governorship, ENCOMIUM Weekly has been reliably informed.

Sources close to the retired army general told us he would make public his aspiration at a grand reception being organized in his honour in few weeks.

“The General has been under intense pressure to run for Abia governorship, but he is yet to confirm or deny it. He would, however, make an official statement on the issue when he would be hosted by Abia people later this month.”

More facts also emerged last week to support the speculation that Ihejirika may indeed be interested in succeeding Abia’s Governor T. A. Orji. When a celebrity friend of the former Chief of Army Staff called to ask him his next step, having been pulled out of service, his response was rather diplomatic as he urged him to wait until they see face-to-face at home. He also confirmed the reception party.

Further investigations by ENCOMIUM Weekly have equally revealed there are plans to draft the artillery general into the Abia guber race. Those rooting for Ihejirika include his Isiukwuato people, who have just kicked off a questionable campaign to take over from Abia Central Senatorial District after their geo-political zone had governed the state for eight years.

It is also being speculated that the out-going governor, who had pledged to support the governorship aspiration of Abia South Senatorial zone, may be secretly sponsoring Ihejirika. The general was instrumental to the defeat of kidnappers in Abia. His prompt intervention as Chief of Army Staff also helped restore maximum security in a state that was practically taken over by dare-devil criminals which explained why many think it is now pay-back time for him.

Similarly, the retired army general may also have secured the endorsement of Aso Rock. Those who think in this direction reason that President Goodluck Jonathan would certainly back the former service chief to compensate him for the loss of his plum job.

In doing so, Jonathan would also be looking forward to winning again in Abia, come 2015. Since the rumour of Ihejirika’s guber ambition filtered into town, it has been trailed with mixed reactions.

For the people of Isiukwuato, who claim they are a voting block by virtue of being the letter ‘I’ in A-B-I-A, retired General Ihejirika is their Joshua in their bid to take their turn in the zoning order of Abia governance.

This is why they are persuading him to join the race. Already, one of their sons, Dr Uchechukwu Sampson Ugah, a billionaire oil mogul and President of Masters Energy Group, is a governorship aspirant. He is expected to join forces with Ihejirika to give Isiukwuato better chances at the PDP guber primaries.

Some Abia elite who desire a change also want the best for the state, irrespective of the aspirant’s place of birth.

But the Ukwa-Ngwa axis of Abia, who make up the Abia South and a part of Abia Central Senatorial District, have vowed to resist any attempt to deny them their right to govern Abia under any guise. One of the leading guber hopefuls in the zone, Barrister Friday Nwosu, in a phone chat with ENCOMIUM Weekly on Friday, February 7, 2014, said Abia South should be given the PDP guber ticket in the interest of equity and justice. If Ihejirika eventually joins the race, he would be slugging it out with over 10 aspirants on PDP platform.

They include Senators Enyi Abaribe, Nkechi Nwaogu, former senate president, Adolphus Wabara, his younger brother, Chief Mac Wabara, former Abia deputy governor, Chief Eric Acho Nwakanma, Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Nwogu, billionaire businessman, Chief Sunny Aku and Barrister Friday Nwosu, who are from Abia South.

The first Igbo Chief of Army Staff since 1966 when the late Major General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi led the army, Lt. General Onyeabo Azubuike Ihejirika was born February 13, 1956 in Ovim, Isiukwuato local government area of Abia State. He was commissioned into the army on December 1977, as a member of Nigerian Defence Academy’s 18th Regular Combatant Course.

Before his elevation in September 2010, he was the Chief of Defence, Logistics at Defence Headquarters. He was also the former GOS of 81 Division, Lagos, as well as former Director of Engineering at Defence Headquarters.

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