by Jerome Samson-Ukaoke
In the current wave of general national transformation and radical commitment to campaign promises, Abia state has remained in the gallows of perpetual dearth of development. It is in the public knowledge that the state government is about the worst performing in comparison to what is happening in other states of the federation (i.e if at all ‘performance’ could be used to qualify his dismal failure in governance).
Abia is in ruins. Abia is in total wreckage. The state defines clearly the exact meaning of abandonment by government. There are just a few indications that government exists in the state. The most visible signs of the presence of a governor are the posters and imposing billboards littered in the nooks and crannies of the state capital with bold inscriptions ‘Ochendo is working’. Then the rants and chants of the state broadcasting service (BCA). There are also the ‘state boys’ (thugs) who are used at will to command obedience, hatch down insubordination and possible opposition, and collect multiple levies for the further enrichment of the governor-figure.
I also recall the existence of a very big masquerade (nnukwu mmanwu), a governor-in-training by all standard and of course the revered hit man- Chinedu Orji (aka Ikuku), son of the governor. Kanyi Okeke describes him as ‘one that is so reckless, harasses every Tom Dick and Harry and acts like a god. He calls the shots in the state and his father has no balls to check his excesses, simply because they are partners-in-crime: raping and killing and robbing Abians with impunity’
We have a serious problem in our dear state. I am not being an alarmist and I am not trying to depress you. I am just making my case based on facts currently in the public domain. Though an oil rich state yet hardship and infrastructural decay are daily companions of the people.
Every month the state makes more than 5billion naira from the federal government allocation and 4billion naira for Local Government allocation. There are also the SURE-P money, intervention fund, excess crude allocation, ecological funds, money from donor agencies and IGR. Records also have it that the state government collects school fees of about 450million per term.
Despite the huge monthly income to the state account, Abia still remains only but a paradise of poverty and a haven for thieves. The voice of opposition has been bought over, the needs and plights of the masses raped in broad daylight and the consciences of the elites cheaply captured by the snare of free lunch and freebies. With an offer of five hundred thousand naira, the traditional rulers have been confined to their rocky sofas and majestic regalia. The state assembly that should have been the last resort for ensuring accountability and probity has become familiar bed fellows with the incumbent.
Wikipedia records that Aba is surrounded by oil wells which separate it from the city of Port Harcourt, a 30 kilometres (19 mi) pipeline powers Aba with gas from the Imo River natural gas repository. Its major economic contributions are textiles and palm oil along with pharmaceuticals, plastics, cement, and cosmetics which made the Ariaria international market to become the largest market in west Africa seconded by the onitsha main market . There is also a brewery and distillery within the city. Finally, it is famous for its handicrafts’’. This makes Aba stand at par with the likes of China and Dubai.
Well, on the ground report will endorse the fact that Aba is gifted and enriched but is relegated and underdeveloped.
Indeed words are not enough to describe what Aba looks like today. A friend calls it ‘a forgotten City and the shame of Abia people’. A place that would have been the state’s major economic hub and world’s priority business stop over only grapples with petty traders from within.
When it rains be sure to have a personal canoe if you must move around. Pedestrian and vehicular bridges are non-existent, compounds without individual boreholes may just have to wait till it rains or spend the little they have buying water, electricity is given at the discretion of power operators and not serving the demands of citizens. Wastes are disposed everywhere and anywhere. Telecommunications, schools, hospitals, good markets and so forth only exist as 2007 campaign promises. The situation is simply chaotic.
THE GRAND SCHEME
As we speak there is a perfected plan for the incumbent governor to return to the government house, well maybe not directly but by deceptive endorsement. Ochendo has stated that he will support the Ngwa clan (Ukwa Ngwa) to produce the next state governor. Whether this is some sort of rotational arrangement conceived with the unholy motive of perpetuating T.A in the governance of Abia only time will tell.
But the people must realize that any candidate that is promoted and projected by the sitting governor is as good and as worse as Ochendo himself. He will just be a front man directed and tele-guided by the Orji’s family- just like what Orji Kalu did in his days by installing Theodore Orji- his political mentee.
Then also there is the tendency that Chinedu (Ikuku) Orji will become the running mate of the projected candidate. The implication of this therefore is that when the Ukwa Ngwa man becomes the governor, T.A’s son is the deputy. If care is not taken, before the first tenure elapses, the governor will be impeached or better still placed in the perpetual silence zone just like stubborn flies before him. Of course this will pave way for the grand return of the Orji’s family.
The question begging for answer is: for how long will the Orji’s reign of terror have to continue in Abia while we fold our arms and watch?
Now is the time. The solution to the woes of Abia is a rescue mission, not by the present political class but by the people. Only if the people can awaken from this sickening lethargic disposition and comatose. Only if the people will speak with one voice demanding accountability. If Abians can like in Osun, Ekiti and Lagos states make a statement with their votes and stand by their decision. No single individual can oppress the people for a life time, that is if the people in question will awaken to the consciousness that power belongs to them.
It is also time the status quo is challenged. This generation of aging-heads has perpetuated themselves in the politics of our dear state for too long. ‘Yesterday’ our leaders told us that we (the youths) were the leaders of tomorrow. That tomorrow has come. That tomorrowis today. Our time to chart a new and positive course and change the order of things. The youth must arise today to reclaim the destiny of the God’s own state. We must take it by force- legally, legitimately yet by force.
If we fail to rise to this clarion call, generations after us and indeed posterity will blame us for knowing what to do and not doing it.
– This Best Outside Opinion was written by Jerome Samson-Ukaoke, a writer and public affairs analyst. He writes from Abuja and can be contacted on Twitter: @jeromecares email: firstname.lastname@example.org