Nze Paul Onyemaechi Palagbo Ogbonna, popularly known as POP, is one of the few surviving founding fathers of Abia State. The 84- year-old Ukwa-born elder statesman and furniture maker was the Deputy National President of the Abia State Creation Movement led by the late Dr. Michael Okpara. In this explosive interview culled from the portal Wawa News Global, the octogenarian expounded the concept of Abia Charter of Equity and unequivocally declared that power should shift to Isuikwuato District representing the letter “I” in the Abia acronym in the spirit of Abia Charter of Equity. He also described “Ukwa la Ngwa” slang as a mischievous coinage for the political dominance of the Ukwa clan by their Ngwa neighbours.
May we know you, Sir?
My name is Nze Paul Palagbo Ogbonna. I’m 84 years old and by December 2021 I will be 85 years.
What were you doing for a living before retiring?
I’m not retired. I’m a furniture maker, a wood worker. I built the highest casket that could sell for N500,000. My workshop is at Ukwa. I have trained a lot of apprentices, and they are all doing well.
We understand that you are one of the few surviving founding fathers of Abia State that drafted the much-talked about Abia Charter of Equity. Can you tell us what this document is all about and how it all happened?
When there was quest for creation of Abia State, a few of us came together and made the request for the creation of Abia State out of the Old Imo State. On October 14, 1979 we wrote a letter to the National Assembly Lagos requesting that Abia State be carved out from the Old Imo State.
So, we began to meet from time to time on how to actualise the dream. On how we got the name Abia for the proposed state, it came after our meeting at Methodist Church Afougiri, Umuahia on Sunday, October 18, 1992. That was when we coined the name Abia for the new state.
The then Local Government Areas that made up the proposed state were: Afikpo Local Government Area, Ohaozara LGA (representing the letter “A” for Afikpo Division); Bende LGA, Arochukwu/Ohafia LGA, Umuahia/Ikwuano LGA (representing the letter “B” for Old Bende); Aba LGA, Ukwa LGA, Obioma Ngwa LGA, Isiala Ngwa LGA (representing another letter “A” for Aba Division, and then Isuikwuato/Okigwe District including Umunneochi (representing the letter “I”). These four letters “A-B-I-A” formed the acronym Abia.
What exactly informed the enactment of Charter of Equity?
Charter of Equity is “Onyeaghana nwanneya” (don’t forsake your brother/be your brother’s keeper). We wanted to ensure mutual trust and guarantee equity and fairness in distribution of political offices among the divisions and district that make up the proposed state. We wanted to ensure that no one is cheated. We said that we would start from the letter “A” (Afikpo division) in distribution of political offices and start coming down. You know that the major sponsors and facilitators of the state creation movement were people from Old Bende.
Going by this arrangement, Isuikwuato District is the only letter that has not taken its turn at the seat of power which has rotated among other Divisions. Afikpo Division took a turn before leaving for Ebonyi State. The first Executive Governor of Abia State, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, is from that Division. Old Bende has also taken its turn. Aba Division where the incumbent Governor hails from is taking its turn. Equity demands that Isuikwuato should produce the next Governor of the state to balance the equation.