As politicians in Abia State intensify efforts to get political appointments in the yet to be constituted new executive council under Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, one name has been pencilled down to assume the office of the chief of staff, which was last occupied by the late Chief Chijioke Nwakudu, a native of Umuahia. That name is Obinna Oriaku, the immediate past commissioner for Finance in Abia State.
News Critic reports that on May 2019, Governor Ikpeazu dissolved his cabinet and all political appointees, retaining six commissioners out of 27. Those retained were Obinna Oriaku (Finance), Aham Uko (Environment), John Okiyi Kalu (Information), Ezeuche Ubani (Works), John Ahukannah (Health) and Chief Umeh Kalu (Justice). However, not too long after that the governor decided to stop the six commissioners from work following pressure from certain quarters on the merit of his action in retaining the six and asking other political appointees to leave.
Already the commissioner for Information, Okiyi Kalu has been reappointed and sworn-in, just as the governor equally appointed Uche Ihediwa as the new Attorney General and commissioner for Justice. Ihediwa is the first commissioner Ikpeazu appointed in his second coming. A new secretary to the state government, SSG, has also been appointed in the person of Barrister Chris Ezem from Umuahia South Local Government Area.
But the bulk of the appointments is still left undone giving room for aspiring commissioners and political appointees to employ the services of godfathers to lobby for a spot on the new list of political appointees. However, for Oriaku his office is settled and only awaiting confirmation, it was gathered. Though some other names were bandied about earlier as the possible replacement for Nwakudu as chief of chief to the governor, such as Dr Aham Uko and Engr. Emma Nwabuko.
Competent sources within the government circles told this reporter that Oriaku has been favoured to clinch the post ahead of other candidates jostling for the office of chief of staff to the governor. It was learnt that due to the strategic position of the office to the government, Ikpeazu is not only looking for a competent hand but also wants to ensure that no section of the state is seen to dominate in allocation of political offices. While the SSG is from Umuahia, in old Bende or Abia Central, the Chief of Staff will come from Old Aba or Abia South.
This is where Oriaku who is from Isiala-ngwa South fits in. Apart from being a good material for the job of chief of staff, he has proved himself to be a reliable aide to the governor. The former banker is seen by many as a strong force in the present administration which he joined as economic adviser. His ability to manage the national salary crisis which ensued due to dwindling oil revenue made him a very dependable aide. He was also instrumental to the increase in the Internally Generated Revenue of Abia State as commissioner for Finance.
Those who know him said Oriaku is a man that understands his principal and his vision and also ensured that leakages in revenue accruing to the state were blocked, especially the ghost workers’ syndrome through which he was able to save a lot of money for the state government. But the challenge of salary payment to teachers and other categories of workers in the state proved a hard nut to crack for the former banker, especially during electioneering period.