By Abdullahi Mohammed
ON Sunday, September 28, 2014, Abia State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Eze Chikamnayo, on Channels Television, as has become routine, struggled nervously to hoodwink viewers with Photoshop-generated pictures of alleged developmental signposts in the state. As far as he is concerned, viewers are gullible and could be taken in by such audacious and highly deceitful computer manipulations. Of course, as usual, the rabid target, principally, was the former governor of the state, Dr. Orji Kalu, whose earlier forensic and unassailable assertions on the same medium, rattled Umuahia. The incoherently garrulous and scurrilous errand boy from Abia also used the Channels opportunity to ingeniously dismiss recent remarks about the state by Prince Arthur Eze and Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso, diligent and vocal governor of Kano State.
If Abians had been “liberated”, as Chikamnayo and his inebriate cohorts drunkenly say in overflowing gibberish, from God-knows-where, why do distinguished Nigerians like Prince Eze and Dr. Kwankwaso, still pitiably weep for Abians over their current bondage and subjugation to circumstantial poverty enthroned by the mediocrity in Umuahia? Enough of this official loquacity and rascality!
Clearly, it will take only a credible and performing governor with no skeleton in his cupboard like Dr. Kwankwaso to boldly take on one of his colleagues in condemnation of what he calls the rot in Abia. If you are not made of sterner stuff like this presidential aspirant, you cannot have the temerity and effrontery to sternly challenge a member of your forum, especially when the governor in question has untamed attack dogs as defence mechanisms and anarchic propagandists in tow.
I must commend Kwankwaso’s rare courage in these times of praise singing and hero worshipping of top government functionaries. That our moral values and traditional orientation have been eroded is no longer in question hence people no longer call a spade a spade in forfeiture of far and between bread!
This article would have been written on September 17, the day of the Kano governor’s bomb was detonated and published probably September 19 and 20. I deliberately waited to see if there would be official reaction to that impenetrable summation of the decadence in Abia. To the best of my knowledge, there was none—not even interjections from hacks stationed in Umuahia and Lagos. That was a good strategy because kicking up dust on Kwankwaso’s unambiguous declarations would have fouled up the decomposition more.
One striking thing about Kano governor’s angst on the systemic and systematic deterioration in Abia is that it came on the heels of Prince Arthur Eze’s apocalyptic avowals on God’s Own State! Feeble and lame-duct remedial attempts to read the mind of the multi-billionaire crashed like the recent Synagogue brazen illegality and murderousness! Again, like Prince Eze, like Gov. Kwankwaso, nobody Kan assail both men’s standpoints.
I read one megalomaniac intrusion in one of the Sunday newspapers where the wretched writer danced round the bush and ended up by saying that Prince Eze took such a position and in the manner he did because of his betrothal relationship with the harangued and persecuted Kalu. Can you imagine this kind of thought poverty? Instead of addressing vital issues raised by the philanthropist extraordinaire from Enugu State, the floundering writer looks for where to clutch as he drowns in his jaundiced opinion.
In contradistinction to the position of Kwankwaso, it is not a failure of the party his tyrannical counterpart belongs. The critical element is the vision, capacity and competency of the occupant of the Government House in Umuahia. After all, many governors from the umbrella party are doing creditably like most of their peers from the All Progressives Congress. Once we underscore this integrality, we can then zero in on the quality of leadership and governance in any given state—not just the worst state of Abia.
Just as in the case of the oil baron, Kwankwaso did not even go beyond Umuahia and was tortured to the marrows by what he saw; heaps of refuse, craters, ancient architectural structures, despondent residents and legacies of underdevelopment writ large in and around the state capital. You can only imagine how other towns, villages and communities would be like if the historic flagship of Umuahia is nothing to write home about. If both men had left Umuahia for other cities or Aba, where I engineer a couple of things for my livelihood since 1998, they probably would have stormed the Governor’s Lodge to confront him!
I think I owe myself the responsibility to state here that Dr. Kalu in his first term fixed a lot of roads in the state particularly Aba. I can confidently testify to that. In his second term, however things sadly began to gradually fall apart and some of the highways could no longer hold. What we have now, unlike in the twilight of Kalu’s years when the roads were fairly still manageable, are craters you can only find in war-ravaged countries. When Gov. Orji’s dysfunctional information managers vouch on the pages of newspapers and magazines and on TV, I shudder and wonder whether it is this same state that I have inhabited since 1998 or somewhere else in the galaxies. Do these Abia wild tale spinners know that there is life after Ochendo, soonest! Gluttonous stomach infrastructure should not becloud our facultative reasoning.
Frankly speaking, no development is taking place in Abia State. What exist are infrastructural facilities that had been in existence right from the glorious days of the late Sam Mbakwe of blessed memories. The military did not do anything which made Kalu’s tangential impact insignificant because of the level of ruination.
Instead of Gov. Orji to use his golden opportunity to correct the mistakes he and Kalu made, he cherishes pugnacity through the instrumentality of lavish state funds.
Abia State is probably the only state with a rented Government House! It took my governor six months to build a befitting seat of government in Kano. In spite of all the statutory allocations and internally-generated revenues that accrue to Abia, there is nothing to justify such unprecedented income in the 23-year history of the state. Official figures from the Federal Ministry of Finance confirm this lest anyone begin to talk of politicization of these issues. Social infrastructures have collapsed in this state while the people thrive in docility because of the militarization of the state.
The interventions of Prince Eze and Dr. Kwankwaso should be taken in good faith. Both men mean well for the state. If not, they would have kept their observations and views to themselves. There is work to be done in Abia. There may be no time any more for Gov. Orji to retrace his faulty steps, but the challenge for the electorate in the state is to ensure there is no leadership legacy! The irredeemable mistake Kalu made by foisting Gov. Orji on Abians should not be allowed to repeat itself at all costs.
If I were Gov. Orji, I would deploy the remaining time of my tenure in mending broken fences. Whatever crimes Kalu committed cannot be equated to adultery with the wife of his estranged successor. It is a short time to live—let’s build bridges and avoid needless enmity across multifarious divides. Incendiary pugilism only diminishes its advocates and leaves inflammatory generations and offshoots.
(Mohammed is an Aba-based businessman.)