By Levinus Nwabughiogu
His name resonates across the political firmament for the positives. He is tenacious, resilient and unequivocal. His candour is vexatious, yet he speaks with some enigmatic, mythical valour and philosophical temerity.
From a tortuous, stifling political background in a sub-national scene in 1999, he has continued to rise in geometrical progression, weathering the stormy shrills of betrayal to becoming an Iroko, a political colossus to the utter amazement of the marauding forces and to the admiration of his supporters.
Anyone with an impeccable sense of the political history of Abia State at the dawn of the 4th republic, precisely between 1999 and 2003 would remember the unsavoury political trajectories that dotted the time, featuring Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe as the deputy governor of Abia State under Senator Orji Uzo Kalu.
Like always, Abaribe had at the time stood against certain misdemeanours in the governance of the State in the most ardent manner, warning against reducing the state to an individual fiefdom and a clubbed oligarchy. He had warned against personalizing our common patrimony by gluttonous, power intoxicated persons.
Of course, his stance became a huge insult and embarrassment to the political forces at the time. Expectedly, all hell was let loose against him and pronto, impeachment onslaughts became rife.
But a cat with nine lives, Abaribe survived three different ferocious impeachment attempts on him by the then State House of Assembly. On March 7, 2003, he resigned his office and opted to run for the office of Governor against the incumbent. This ambition gave birth to the Otuonu Movement, a renaissance that awakened the political consciousness of many geographical sections of the state especially his Ukwa/Ngwa nation made up of 9 local government areas.
Though the bid was unsuccessful, the next move in 2007, however, landed Abaribe at the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria where he has been since then, presently serving a fourth term.
At the Senate, Abaribe has taken his philosophy of good governance which sits on the tripod of justice, equity and fairness to a notch higher, showing a predilection to the saying that what is good for the geese is also good for all.
Since his sojourn at the Senate, Abaribe has held many notable offices which included Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Inter-Parliamentary Affairs 2007 – 2011; Chairman Senate Committee on Information from 2011 – 2015, a position for which he worked as the Spokesman of the Senate.
Abaribe was also appointed Chairman Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy from 2015 – 2019 and at the inauguration of the 9th senate on June 11, 2019, he emerged as the Minority Leader.
Undoubtedly, Abaribe’s legislative imprints at the national parliament are big and boldly seen beyond his immediate Abia South Senatorial District.
To the people of Abia South Senatorial District whom he represents, Abaribe has recorded very unassailable achievements.
For Ndigbo, the people of the south-east, the Senator has continued to protect their interests in matters of national significance. In fact, if there is a voice so firm and loud against the marginalization of Ndigbo, it is that of Abaribe.
Consequently, many have reasoned that though the world has regrettably become enmeshed in some moral cataclysmic earthquake and political subterfuge, Abaribe still belongs to the circle of men who by God’s unlimited grace are holding so tenaciously to their creed of decency; men who in their inmost souls are true and honest; men who are not for sale. Consequently, they see him as the last man standing.
In general, Nigerians admire Abaribe’s courage in pushing for good governance for the greater good of the country even though many see his stance on most national issues as controversial, often disagreeing with him.
But that’s distinguished Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, the Made-in-Aba Senator.
Born on March 1, 1955, Abaribe attended the Seventh Day Adventist Church-owned Ihre High School and Government College, Umuahia where he obtained a distinction in WAEC in 1974. He later proceeded to the University of Benin, Benin City where he obtained both B.Sc (1979) and M.Sc (1982) in Economics.
From 1982 to 1985, Abaribe was a lecturer in Economics at the Bendel (Edo) State University from where he moved on to the corporate world by joining SCOA Nig. Plc as a trainee manager and rose to Area Manager, (South) Nigeria in the Trading Division of the company.
He had also attended courses at the Said Business School, Oxford University, Britain and Harvard Kennedy School of Executive Education, Harvard University, USA.
Before he debuted into active and mainstream politics, he equally had worked in some other reputable organizations.
In 2013, he started the ‘Buy Nigeria’ campaign by organizing the 1st Annual “Made in Aba Trade Fair” in Abuja, to sensitize our leaders in Government of the need to patronize locally made products. The foresight he exhibited and the diligence in promoting it had led his colleagues to call him “made in Aba Senator: This laudable initiative is now in its 6th year and has been embraced by both the Abia State Govt under Governor Okezie Ikpeazu PhD and indeed the entire country following the downturn in Nigeria’s economic fortunes. This also led the Senate Press Corps to give him the award of the “most innovative Senator in ‘Constituency projects’ in 2016.
Abaribe is a father of three, a proud grandfather and happily married to Flora Abaribe. He had been honoured in very many ways by his community and by many other groups.
Among the honours accorded him were the highest honour given by the Abia State Government to its distinguished citizens, “ENYI ABIA”.
Others included the traditional titles of MMA AGHA NDIGBO, NWADIOHANMA NGWA by Abia South Traditional Rulers Council, ALASELA of Lagos by late Oba Oyekan of Lagos and over 26 other traditional titles.
Tomorrow, Monday, March 1, 2021, Abaribe will clock 66 years and to him, I heartily raise a toast, saying happy birthday even as 2023 beckons on him in Abia to continue the good work.