Saturday, 13 September 2014

Article: Before The Emergence Of Theodore Orji As Governor Of Abia State

Governor Theodore Orji

Comrade Henry O. Nwaigwe

According to the AIT thirty minutes documentary on Monday February 21, 2011, between the hours of 9am to 9:30am which was centered on the activities or performance of Governor Theodore Orji for four years of his governance in Abia State 2007 – 2011.  It is important I draw some lessons from what captured my attention for 30 minutes. 

In the documentary, the governor exhibited what he could offer as democratic dividends in the midst of political strangulations that surrounded his purported four years tenure but I didn’t know why the pictures on the screen concentrated on part of Aba and Umuahia alone? May be I should ask the Governor? The viewers and listeners to the documentary, were not in any way expected the governor to hinge his lack of satisfactory performance on prolonged litigation of  three and a half years according to him.  The reason was that, the governor would have been mindful of other states that suffered more elongated litigation than he’s, yet, were able to perform optimally.  Those states also exhibited some sense of doggedness by enthroning laudable projects even in the face of heavy court dragnets.  The governor was quoted as saying that the interest of the people is topmost in his heart, does his interest translate to provision of employment given the teaming unemployed young people on the street of Abia State? At least, the practical feeling of the people as he claims would have manifested to human empowerment programs which I am yet to see. I was watching to see or hear the governor emphasis the proposed refinery project at Obeaku city or Azumini tourist center including re-activated Aba textile mill purportedly re-commissioned by Dr. Goodluck Jonathan during his tenure as vice president that they are nearing completion or fully functional.  The insecurity in Abia State that he mentioned through senator Abaribe as one of the factors that forestalled the execution of projects. No doubt sparked off because of lack of coordination of good governance and it was not to be abated until Rivers State and federal government intervened.  According to one of his aids in the documentary, “even with in-tensed security measures which incidentally brought down one of the king pins known as Osisikankwu that eventually abated the rate of insecurity was not done without Abia State government paying darely for it”. The question is where were these funds when the insecurity was still at the germination stage? The governor would have spared us to prove himself right by re-mobilizing contractors to site now the insecurity is fully subsided (e.g.) Umunteke-Mkporobe Ohuru-Ohanku internal road.  The governor in his documentary, claimed that he has rehabilitated total of 46 roads within Aba metropolis including rural roads, I expected to hear him identify the roads by their names, the year they were rehabilitated, and why is it that almost all the roads in the same Aba have been washed away by uncontrollable flood owing to lack of standard drainage system (e.g.) Ngwa road, cemetery road, Obohia road, Port Harcourt –Asa road, and so on. I didn’t hear him talk much about provisions of rural roads; otherwise, I would have been tempted to ask. If Umunteke-Mkporobe-Ohuru-Ohanku internal road (7km) the governor personally flagged off on December 27, 2008 which has remained unattended to till date is also included and still tracing his ill governance? He was quoted as saying that road projects in the state are not based on political considerations rather on economic issues.  The governor would have known that the only way to ascertain a genuine government with economic purposeful base-projects is to identify the agriculturally viable communities and see how they can be linked to the nearest urban areas. Let me recalled to him, that on November 11, 2010 as he graced the thanksgiving ceremony of one of his party chieftains at Ohuru-Ndoki community in Ukwa East Local Government Area of Abia State, he was confronted with the issue of long neglected dilapidated Obohia-Ohuru-Ugwunagbo-Aba road.  The community was unhappy hearing him responded by saying that the inability of state fund to carry out the reconstruction has remained a major factor hindering it.  He concluded by advising the community to make a strong approach to NDDC.

May be he is not aware that the community has almost exhausted all the avenues to attract the attention of NDDC following the 2009 awarded but non executed road in question. I am one of the concerns indigenes of Abia State from Ukwa East Area, I have been championing projects in my community so, I know what the community meant by persuasive approach to NDDC.  I heard one of his aids shamelessly mentioned about Ochendo Housing Estate and how it was contracted to the engineers in the state ministry this according to him was to promote local content and maximization of cost.  I am driven by this statement to enjoin my fellow viewers and listeners to join me ask the Governor and his cronies if it’s constitutionally right to personalize a project whose funding is not coming from individual purse? It is only in Abia state that the governor uses his name to carry out projects, even when it is obvious that the state fund is solely involved.  To me it is high level of display of unconstitutional responsibility.  I always cast doubt to the political godfatherism renunciation claim by Chief T.A. Orji, otherwise one is always tempted to ask, “is there any different between the administrative performance or behaviour of godfather and godson”? I pity those who sing praises to the governor just because of mere political inducement what lasting value will it bring, if one condemns his/her conscience to aid and abate crimes.  That route they drive or walk to their communities, why has it remained the way it is even with the presence of existing government who receives huge monthly federal allocation to run the state? Those who sing praises to the governor, have they taken time to explore rural communities to know the number of dilapidated infrastructures stirring in their faces? It is regrettable to note, that the crop of corrupt politicians in Abia State have vowed to continue to divide the monthly allocation amongst themselves without proper and fiscal accountability or responsibility.  To those who wish to know, it is a popular anxious that “when the chips are dawn, people must decide what is most important to them”.

Again, those that sing praises to governor should bear in mind that they are not doing good to the state. Hence, it is obvious that they are doing it for their personal interest and gains at the detriment of the entire state.  If they are sincere to themselves, can they identify any project within their communities attracted with their influence or position? I am even surprised that those who fought the governor in the electoral tribunal based on poor performance, have since joined the team of governors praise singers and this has given him the feeling of overwhelming acceptance by the Abians.  We know them, especially when they held their public offices; their performance during the period will inform the people if they have the moral qualification to convince the people to support their non-performing senior colleague.  The documentary as long as the viewers are concerned fall below the people’s expectations and I hope it is not targeted at drumming support for the governor in 2011 general elections and beyond.  The scenes found in that documentary, does not represent the current poor infrastructural development of Abia State, infact it dates back to 2006 when a documentary of this manner was displayed my memory reminded me of what I saw then that has no particular difference with February 21, 2011 and repeat broadcast the following day.

However, since the governor has deemed it necessary to display his 4 years leadership achievements to the consciousness of the Abia state electorates, he should take a step further to present the comprehensive scorecard of his administration ranging from:
1.       How much entered the state coffer and how it was used.
2.       How many secondary or primary school he has sincerely rebuilt or renovated.
3.       How many equipped primary or secondary health center he has built or renovated.
4.       How many rural or urban roads he has constructed, re-constructed or rehabilitated.
5.       How many communities he has electrified.
6.       How many young people he has empowered in the state by way of employment.
7.       How many moribund and ailing state industries including establishment of new ones he has given a face lift.
8.       How many drainage systems has he constructed in Aba to check the age long incessant flood disaster that has almost cut off part of Aba e.g. Ndiegoro Axis.
9.       How many urban and rural water scheme has he provided.

The viewers and listeners were convinced that infrastructure display is not always evaluated by the picture on the telecast but by practical effect on people’s lives. After all, one can present Lagos environment in Aba disguise. Those who enter Abia State particularly Aba on daily basis will know and physically judge better about Abia environment and this will make a clear difference between the pictures on the screen and physical impact. The governor and his partners in bad governance should be swallowed in shame because they think the best way to drum support is by displaying old infrastructures on the screen, using litigation and insecurity as an acceptable reason for not embarking on people oriented program to give them the benefits of democracy.  May be the governor should have been reminded that it was during the height of militancy with uncontrollable kidnap that Eleme flyover in Port Harcourt was constructed.  The ongoing dualization of Obehie-Azumini-Ukanafun Akwa Ibom road post Amnesty project by Ministry of Niger Delta affairs commenced execution in the heat of kidnap in Abia State.

Those who think that the governor has a human face programme in 2011, should re-examine his antecedents and the ample opportunities he possessed for 4 years as the executive governor and deliver a fair judgment.  Let us not be deceived again by political statements, or promises which always surface during election period. Self-serving politicians should know that we are fully politically sensitized and therefore, can no longer be lured into believing that somebody who was there with sole opportunity yet cannot justify the mandate of the people will do well if given another opportunity.

(Nwaigwe Writes from Ohuru-Ndoki Community Ukwa East LGA, Abia State. He be reached via08062836738.)

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