Ukwa Fed Constituency And The Paradox Of Wasted Years

It was Kofi Awoonor, in his legendary poem, ‘Songs of Sorrow’, who lamented on the calamity that has befallen himself and his household, blaming his dead ancestors for not doing enough from the land of the dead to protect their legacies.

Awoonor, further, in his efforts to picture the image of the circumstances that he and his household found themselves, exclaimed that even those who have travelled to big cities and who those at home looked upon to come home with goodies and fortunes finally arrived home with bags “covered with debt”.

This description aptly also captures the early African travelers who left for the cities and foreign countries in search of greener pastures.

Stories had it that one of the most prominent host countries of such travelers was East Africa and other francophone countries known by those then at home as ‘Frandapole’ or ‘Panya’.

Most times, when these travelers return home, they only arrive with magnificent radio, cladding the Afro hairstyle laced with a typical type of trousers known as Bongo.

This story is that described by Kofi Awoonor. They are travelers, they are back home quarreling with anybody at sight, blaming whoever comes their way including their ancestors when actually they are architects of their own woes.

Above scenario exactly captures the wasted years’ journey of Mr Uzoma Abonta in the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria where he spent sixteen years in the Green Chamber of the House of Representatives for the people of Ukwa Federal Constituency between 2007 and 2023.

He was elected by his people with the hope and expectations in the area of effective legislation and attraction of federal presence into his constituency but it did appear that the sound bites and side attractions in Abuja, like our early African travelers, overwhelmed the legislator to the extent that he lost touch of the primary essence for his election into the National Assembly.

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Having failed woefully in the sixteen years, Abonta, again, dusted his political bags with same trick that worked for him all those years picked up a form to go back to the National Assembly for the twentieth year in 2023. God forbid.

Like Israelites, the people of Ukwa Federal Constituency cried and God had their cry and brought them a David in the name of Chief Chris Nkwonta who came with intimidating credentials, a philanthropist loved by the majority of the people of the constituency.

Never in the history of this present democratic dispensation in 1999 have the people of Ukwa Federal Constituency demonstrated their love for a candidate who contested under the PDP but voted for across party lines because of his outstanding qualities and reputation.

Before his election into the National Assembly, Nkwonta had given succour to many under health and education, widows had always smiled home on each of his visits down home and his election was the easiest, no wonder he was the only PDP representative from Abia in the National Assembly before Senator Akobundu was returned through the court.

Nkwonta, who is the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Climate Change is a household name and his good deeds are already making ways including the prayers of widows and downtrodden who have been beneficiaries of his benevolence.

Nkwonta has demonstrated political sagacity and prowess as the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Climate Change that are evidence-based and practical in the country’s goals on climate change.

His candour and dexterity in the discharge of his duties has been pivotal and surprising because, as a first timer in the Green Chamber, it was expected that he needed time to study the terrain but he immediately adapted and has made great impact in the committee just nine months into the National Assembly.

But one may not be surprised because the background of Nkwonta in the business world and his grassroots acceptability among his people, backed by his successful business accolades, it was obvious that a golden fish has nowhere to hide. The key is his starting point.

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But like the frustrated Africa returnee brothers of us, Uzoma Abonta, like a wounded snake, is yet to come to terms with the fact that power has been wrestled out of his hands. During the 2023 general elections and after losing at the PDP primary, he openly campaigned with his insignificant followers against the PDP and in fact was publicly in various media organisations announced as the Deputy Director of Campaign of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA); he never denounced that till date.

All his efforts to kill PDP in the constituency failed because Nkwonta was no match to any of the other candidates who contested under other political platforms and the people love him and voted for him and not the political party.

After the elections, Abonta has been embattled as he neither resigned from the PDP nor joined any other party. He is suffering a dwindling relevance and his political future is bleak primarily because there is nothing he can point at in the entire federal constituency as a legacy to be remembered for.

Already the PDP in his ward, Akwete/ Ohandu, has suspended him and a committee set up to look into the allegations including anti-party activities on March 8 upheld the suspension and embattled Abonta is currently floating as he fights the political battles of life but, unfortunately, he seems to be alone as he acks followers due to his inability to empower his constituents during his 16 years reign.

But political analysts in the area are of the opinion that Abonta should be expelled from the party after all the confusion and crisis he caused in the party. They accuse him of organizing a kangaroo congress in contravention of the constitution of the party. They allege that Uzoma is being backed by a “strong man” in the party based at Abuja wondering why Abonta should remain in party after all the things he did against the PDP.

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They call on the local government executives, the State Chairman, and State Working Committee of the PDP to take decisive action and expel Abonta from the party.

One of them said, “What can we boast of in Uzoma’s sixteen years in the National Assembly and what did he attract to the constituents? Why must we allow such a person to remain in the PDP? If we are really serious about rebuilding the party, Uzoma Abonta should be thrown out of the party with immediate effect”.

Another analyst was so furious and wondered what Abonta is still doing in PDP, stating: “Uzoma Abonta was a card-carrying member of APGA before he was appointed the Campaign DG and even lobbied to be made the deputy governorship candidate to Prof. Greg Ibe”.

Like those our brothers who returned from ‘Panya’, Abonta may also be going into political oblivion as he lacks the necessary tools to relaunch himself into political relevance. Better still, he can honourably quit the political scene and nobody will miss him.

•Written by Okere, an Umuahia based lawyer.

Culled from Vanguard Newspaper