By: Ogele Obingwa
Enyinnaya Abaribe described by followers as the lion of the tribe of Igbo Land is regarded as Nma Agha Ndi Igbo Nke di Nko, as a seasoned political icon and a grassroots leader.
Born on March 1, 1955, Abaribe was elected to the Abia-South Senatorial District of Abia State in the Senate of Nigeria in April 2007.[adrotate banner="11"]
Earlier, he became Abia State’s Deputy Governor to Orji Uzor Kalu’s after the 1999 election.
The state’s House of Assembly attempted to impeach him as the Deputy Governor twice in 2000 and on a third time in 2003; as he was facing his third impeachment attempt, he resigned on March 7, 2003.But the House of Assembly formally voted him out of office several days later, in a move Abaribe described as; “medicine after death.
Abaribe ran for the Governorship on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in 2003, but lost to his boss, Governor Orji Uzor Kalu who instead was re-elected in a campaign regarded as the most urbane and issue driven called the Otuonu struggle which was for the emancipation of the Ukwa Ngwa race a region of Abia State that had not produced any military or civilian governor prior to that time.
In 2007, he was elected to the Senate on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Haven been elected in 2007 as a senator he was nominated in the Senate as Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Inter-Parliamentary Affairs to deputize Senator Abdulaziz Usman of Jigawa-North East who was Chairman. He was also appointed into the membership of the Committees on the Independent National Electoral Commission, Senate Services, and Works.
In October 2007, the freedom fighter in him became manifest again as Ralph Uwazuruike, leader of the banned secessionist organization Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), was on trial for treason, Abaribe and six other southeastern senators protested at the Federal High Court in Lagos to demand his release.
Abaribe was again re-elected for as senator for Abia South in the April 2011 election and was assigned the role of managing the image of the Senate where he chaired the Senate Committee on Media and Publicity.
Ranked as a distinguished legislator and beloved by his constituents he was re-elected to the 8th senate on the platform of the PDP in 2015. He is currently serving as Chairman Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy. His leadership skills has seen him leading the PDP South East Senate Caucus and being the spokesman for the PDP in the 8th National Assembly where he has vociferously engaged the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and its Federal Government over alleged anti- people policy.
Abaribe earned his WASSCE from Government College Umuahia in 1974.[adrotate banner="10"] Trained at University of Benin as an Economist, he received his Bachelor of Science Degree in 1979 and a Master’s Degree in Economics in 1982.
The cerebral lawmaker lectured at the Edo State University (now Ambrose Ali University) in Ekpoma from 1982 to 1985. From 1985 until 1991, he was SCOA Nigeria’s Area Manager for Southern Nigeria. He was employed as Nicon’s Senior Manager for Investment and served from 1991 to 1992. In 1993 he became the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Integrated Mortgage Co and was there until 1995.
On June 22, 2018, Abaribe was arrested by the Department of State Security Services (DSS) at his barber shop located at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja for his alleged links with the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) being one of the sureties to the IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu, he was taken to his house for a search and was later taken to the DSS detention in Abuja.[adrotate banner="8"] He was released the next Tuesday, 26th June, 2018 on bail.
Married to Florence Nwamaka Abaribe (nee Morris) in a union blessed with three children and three grand children, Abaribe is viewed as a patriotic Nigerian who stands up against injustice and is reputed as a man of integrity.
He won his fourth election into the 9th Senate after a runoff election held to overwhelm his lead over his closest rival Chris Nkwonta of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in 2019.
Abaribe is seen by his colleagues as having a natural edge and the carriage to lead the PDP’s minority in the 9th Senate given his avalanche of experience, exposure, reach and contact as detribalized Nigerian who wants the best for the country.
His chances are more revealed by his competence and ability to coordinate the affairs of the Party in the legislature and ensure obedience to party directives through popular consultation and census building mechanism a disposition that has endeared him to the leadership of the PDP as a loyal party man and to his colleagues and members of the opposition as a trusted ally.
Abaribe during the gray days of the Yar’Adua presidency in league with Senator Bala Mohammed and other faithful members of the 7th National Assembly coined the ” the doctrine of necessity ” that gave rise to the Jonathan presidency. In times of adversity and Legislative /Executive face off Abaribe has always brought his knowledge of history and workings of the senate to bear on topical issues of national importance. Fearless, firm and fierce he will always speak in the interest of the people, content and satisfied by his modest stewardship records in public service and governance Abaribe believes in God as the only determiner of the fate of mankind and therefore struggles not to fight the will of God.
It is reported that the PDP may have picked Abaribe, Dogara as Senate and House Minority Leaders haven foreclosed the contest for Senate President and the Speaker of House of Representatives by PDP Legislators.
It was gathered that leaders of the party have resolved to tell members of the party elected into the 9th National Assembly not to drag the presiding officer positions with any of the APC members.
There are also indications that the leaders of the PDP may have foreclosed the chance of any of its members contesting for the post of Senate president or speaker of the House of Representatives in the next National Assembly.
It was gathered that leaders of the party have also resolved to tell members of the party elected into the ninth Senate and House of Representatives not to drag the presiding officer positions with any of the APC members. The source said that the party analyzed its take on the 2015 to 2019 National Assembly and then resolved to change its strategy.
“It was good enough that we foisted a sort of hybrid Senate on the National Assembly in 2015 and then we also ensured that our loyalists in the person of the speaker of the House, Honourable Yakubu Dogara got elected in 2015. “It served as a morale booster that equally helped to galvanize our members in the two chambers. But going forward, it has been adopted that none of our members would drag the presiding officer positions with the APC in June.
The idea is to make impact without necessarily dragging positions,” the source said.
Another source stated that the PDP has resolved to allow the APC run its government so that the main opposition party can face the role of opposition between 2019 and 2023.
“During the 2019 electioneering, the APC went about blaming its failure on the hostile National Assembly being led by the opposition.
Right now, we are of the view that the idea has served its purpose. From now, we won’t give further room for unfounded excuses by the APC,” the source stated.
It was also learnt that Dogara has been chosen as the Minority Leader of the 9th House of Representatives.
In picking the duo, it was gathered that the party is gunning for consistency and loyalty, while also appreciating Dogara for his firm grip on members in the House.