By NewsCritic reporters
Almost three months after the inauguration of the present administration, the Abia State Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu is yet to constitute his cabinet, thereby making him the only state governor in the entire South East region that is yet to form his state executive council. The delay in the composition of his cabinet is said to have been caused by disagreement within the ranks of the cabal over sharing of political offices, the NewsCritic learnt.
Since his election for a second term in office, governor Ikpeazu according to our findings has been making new appointments that tend to favour his Ukwa Ngwa brothers as against what was previously obtained. This development has not gone done well with the cabal, sources disclosed.
For instance, the new Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Uche Ihediwa is of Ukwa Ngwa origin, likewise the new chairman of the board of Internal Revenue and Abia State Universal Basic Education Board, ASUBEB, Mr Celestine Ahaoma. These offices where before now occupied by Umuahia elements.
In the judiciary, it was gathered that among the newly nominated four High Court judges three were from Ukwa-Ngwa, which led to protest and the stoppage of their confirmation by the NJC despite the obvious shortage of judges in the state which hinder quick dispensation of justice.
In fact, analysts have accused the governor Ikpeazu of promoting Ngwa nationalism in his administration to the detriment of other areas. “At the moment the Ikpeazu administration has positioned and promoted Ngwa elements in strategic offices in the ministries and parastatals, said a concerned civil servant.
Also in the new workers’ recruitments exercise carried out in the state in spite of difficulties in paying existing workers, Ngwa candidates were given over 80 per cent of the slots, while others share the remaining percentage. In the recruitment done by the local government service commission, the Ngwa candidates dominated the list, likewise in the recruitment of new teachers by the Secondary Education Management Board, SEMB, that saw Ngwa graduate taking over 80 per cent of the slots. One source confirmed that the recruitments were specifically done to populate the state workforce with Ngwa candidates.
The Ngwa nationalism being promoted by the administration of Ikpeazu is said not to have gone down well with certain groups in the state, who want the governor to halt the policy and ensure even distribution of both political offices, and other employment opportunities.
Sources disclosed that the commissioners list is being delayed because the governor is insisting on taking strategic ministries, like Finance and office of the chief of staff among others strategic portfolios he want his men to occupy. But he is being opposed by certain groups who said the governor want to deviate from the approved sharing formula of political offices agreed on, and also want to appropriate to himself more than necessary.
Also is the issue of some political appointees who were part of the former Exco that the governor does not want to bring back, but they are insistence on making it back to the cabinet because they are the candidates of powerful politicians in the state.
Though the Abia State commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu blamed the delay in constituting the cabinet on the recess embarked upon by the state House of Assembly. However, analysts are of the opinion that once the list of commissioners’ nominees is transmitted to the Assembly, the lawmakers are duty bound to reconvene and screen them. They said that even president Muhammadu Buhari has inaugurated his federal executive council, while Abia is yet to forward any name to the state house of Assembly for screening, describing it as unfortunate.
The Abia State House of Assembly is expected to come back from its recess in September, which implies that it might take the governor until October to form his cabinet.
NewsCritic reports that Ikpeazu had earlier nominated the commissioner for Justice and Information who were screened and inaugurated, the duo is working presently. He also appointed the new Secretary to the State Government, Barrister Nzem and few personal aides pending the composition of the cabinet.
The governor has also requested the PDP in all the 17 local government areas of the state to nominate 15 candidates each to be considered for political appointments in his administration. The names to forward is currently generating crisis in some of the wards and local government.