Any Abavo Person Contesting for Council Chairmanship Should Look at Possible Implications After now

Chief Jonathan Ohioya Agbejiagwe is a man whose comment should be taken seriously. In fact, his comment resonates in the hearts and minds of his Abavo people and beyond. He has over the years built a very good reputation for himself such that he has become a major influencer that sways opinions and thoughts of his people.
He served two terms as the President-General of Abavo Clan Union, the apex community group in the agrarian kingdom.
He has a very good communication skills, lacing his thoughts and views with pointed proverbs for impacts and better assimilation.
It was not a fluke that he was picked as the first guest of “The Echo”, an online media platform positioned to reshape major discourse in our landscape.
Chief Agbejiagwe, a graduate of Calabar Polytechnic, spoke with the Editor of The Echo, Mr. Williams Eghebi, on various issues, ranging from his experience as President-General of Abavo Clan Union, relationship with his King as well as the controversial political deal between Agbor and Abavo. His thoughts and opinions are quite insightful.

Until recently, you served as the President-General of Abavo Clan Union. Can you relate your experiences while in that position ?

I came into Abavo administrative structure during the royal crisis. I started as the spokesperson at Ogwa-Olihen which then served as traditional administrative stool. I was then elected PRO of Abavo Clan Union in 2014. In 2017, I became the President-General as I took over from Mr. Amechi Onwuemerie. My job was neither easy nor pleasant. It was mandatory for me to meet with people of different shades and interest including pastors and traditional worshippers and every traditional Administrative organ in all the Communities.
Everything was on my table. I was under huge tension. The police and other security agencies made matters worse as I was regularly their guest. The experience was hectic and unpleasant.
On the flip side, it made me stronger as I was able to overcome challenges with God on my side.

Considering the seemingly fractious relationship with your king at some time in office, how did you become his Chief on exiting the position?

Hmmmm. That I became a chief of Abavo Kingdom is a mystery. I will forever be grateful to my King, HRM Obi Irenuma 11. After the court ruling on the royal crisis, some people wanted him to dissolve the leadership of Abavo Clan Union. He didn’t do that, rather he forgave everybody. He didn’t just say he forgave all but, he exhibited it. He engaged major players and involved them in the administration of the kingdom. It was his disposition that made reconciliation very fast and genuine. All of us on the other side had to give him full support to the extent that it appeared there was never crisis in Abavo.
After the judgement , I was made to lead a delegation to the palace. A mini conference was called to make that decision. I was glad that the people agreed without compulsion to walk to the palace in large numbers.
It was the speech of the king on that day that buried all acrimonious disposition, ushering and rekindling a united and progressive kingdom.
The king supported my return for a second term as the PG of Abavo Clan Union.
Against opposition, the king made me a Chief after leaving the office of the President General. I say it every place I go that no modern day young King will do it. This marks him out as father of all. He is Godly and Godlike.

In spite of the apparent peace in Abavo, kidnapping has become a daily occurrence. Few months ago, a serving Divisional Police Officer was kidnapped. Is it not worrisome?

Kidnapping is not peculiar to Abavo. It has become an embarrassment to the whole country.
That a serving Divisional Police Officer was kidnapped is a clear indication that we cannot expect only police to protect us.
Kidnapping has affected us both socially and economically. We are now not able to move from one community to another in some segments of our kingdom such as going to Obiayima from any other parts of Abavo. There is a mutual distrust amongst us because it seems there are internal collaborators with the kidnappers. The community trust we hold dear is tempered with.
It is sad to confirm that many of our farmers are yet to harvest their yams because of fear of being kidnapped. The farms near the railway are mostly affected. There is no guarantee that our people who go to farm will return.
We are not sleeping as a kingdom. We are not keeping quiet but we will not make our plans public. We have resorted to self-help.
The king is leading the efforts to rid our kingdom of the disease.

The Popular ABAVO Market has become abandoned due to access roads into Abavo from neighbouring communities. What efforts are your people especially the stakeholders and political class making to fix the roads?

We were told that Government has awarded contracts to fix the failed section of the road .The information we have was the that many contactors were given the job. Sadly, the contractor handling the Abavo section is yet to report to site.
We have written to the relevant government agencies including the Ministry of Works. We were assured that something will be done. Until we see the work in progress, the people will not be happy. We are worried as the rain will soon set in.

There seems to be a time-bomb that tries to rattle the political deal between Agbor *and Abavo Kingdoms in relation to the coming local government council election. *As a stakeholder in Abavo, are you not disturbed?*

I am very disturbed with what’s happening* . There is a mutual agreement between Agbor and Abavo. This unwritten agreement has brought peace and mutual co-existence between us. The understanding is that ‘if you take, I take and when I take, you take’.
What’s happening now is very disheartening in the sense that if not properly handled will explode like a time-bomb with monumental consequences.
I will not stop speaking out. If we, the Abavo people, fail to handle it well, we will be at the losing end in near future.
If we insist on the Chairmanship of Ika South, we could get it. Then there is every tendency that in 2027, the Agbor people will insist we go to the field to determine all elective positions. This is obvious truth we must not shy away from. We must go to the table to discuss with our brothers from Agbor.

If you are disturbed that the political arrangement is threatened, what do you think should be done to retain the mutual trust?

If I were the immediate past chairman of the Council, I will withdraw my interest for a second term. He should not allow his personal ambition to bury the future political interest of other Abavo people.
Any Abavo person that wants to contest the next Chairmanship election should as a patriot and some one who wants the best for his people now and in future consider the political implications thereafter. The question I have always asked my kinsmen is this, If Hon. Barr. Victor Okoh, had gone back for a second tenure, would any Abavo man be jostling for Chairmanship of the local Government now considering so many variables and awareness on the table.
I was at the Abavo Palace when prominent chiefs from Agbor visited with Hon Festus Chukwuyem Okoh, weeks before the last election. Aside the chiefs, there were other prominent Agbor people there. There were pronouncements. The Agbor people, I understand, keep their words.
In 2027, we have House of Representatives position in addition to House of Assembly for Ika South. We must learn to let go somethings so that entering the promised land will be an easy ride.

As a PDP Stakeholder what is your advice in times like this?

In times like this, as a committed PDP member, I strongly suggest that:

  1. Aspirants should learn to be persuasive and not arrogant, autocratic and disrespectful.
  2. Aspirants should learn to accept the fact that their interest is subject to the wish and interest of the larger Society.
  3. Aspirants should know that the era of imposition and godfatherism are on their way out.
  4. My kinsmen should know that there is a great difference between the meat found in the goat and the one found in elephant.
    We must not stagnate our vision and political growth or destroy our tomorrow because of poem being recited to satisfy an individual’s ambition.
  5. Party leaders across the state should reflect on the 2023 presidential and governorship elections while taking decisions on 2024 and 2027 elections. Sentiments and favoritism should be discarded. Every word and action should be geared towards achieving victory for our great party, PDP. Leaders at ward levels should distant themselves from imposition of Councillors or arm-twisting of communities into accepting candidates in the name of “order from above”. I use this opportunity to tell some persons in state ward-15 (Abavo Central Abavo), who feel they are anointed to anoint any candidate of their choice without recourse to the view of other leaders or even the community to put a stop to it because it will be resisted by any means possible.
  6. Leaders should should not underate or under estimate any segment of the our great Party PDP or commity of persons in the name of Kingdom or Local Govt. Abavo is one of the communities that pride her youths as obedient and respectful. These attributes seem eroded due to substance abuse and internet fraud. To what extent did these lifestyles affect the reputation of Abavo and her people?

The use of hard drugs and involvement in internet fraud permeates the length and breadth of all societies. Abavo is not an exception.
I make bold to state that majority of our youths are pursuing legitimate businesses and skills. The love our people have for education has not reduced to a level of worry. Moral training remains essential part of our family and informal education.
I am confident that we shall surmount the seemingly difficult challenges we currently face. Our King is working hard to unite us all. We must not fail him.

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