By Chijioke Nwariaku
The news emanating from God’s Own State in the past four weeks have been mind-boggling and embarrassing. Never in my entire life had I expected what I read daily from the various media covering news from Nigeria. Out of every 10 news items on the international scene six are from Abia State, Nigeria. And none of the six items is palatable. It is either one form of malfeasance or another, killing or kidnapping. In short, nothing good comes from Abia State. Curiously, all the news items have one thing or another to with the governor of the state, Chief T.A. Orji, his garrulous son or his overbearing wife. What kind of rubbish is this?
I am bereft of words to describe how outraged I have been over the odious revelations from home. When in 2007 Orji Uzor handed over to the man in the helm of affairs right now, we all thought he would tow the path of his predecessor by being passionate and humble in the administration of the state. I must state without any equivocation, that I was one of those that showed optimism on the choice of the man to succeed Orj Uzor. Our optimism was hinged on the fact that Orji uzor being the smart man he is would not allow a Zombie to succeed him. But latter events have proved us all wrong. The man we elected is simply a pretender and usurper. He lacks the leadership style and traits of accomplished leaders all over the world. He does not even measure up one tenth to the man who handed him over the succession baton.
So, from where did this man come, for goodness sake? Why did nobody see the deficient and inherently dangerous qualities of this man? Is it not amusing that out of a population of about 3.5 million people nobody was able to see the hidden character of this man? I am yet to understand why he hid those destructive traits from Orji Uzor. How did he do it?
One of my relations who works in Government House Umuahia has always told me sordid things about the governor, but I never cared to take them to heart, because I thought he was making them up. However, I knew he was not the kind of guy that would make up a story about someone else. So, I believed him somewhat. It was when I started reading the stories about the atrocities of the governor that I started piecing together all that he had been telling me.
So I am compelled to ask, where have all our elders and top personalities gone to, allowing this man to ride roughshod over everybody? Who is the man really that nobody is bold enough to challenge his excesses? I read that he uses large sums of money to buy people over. Must everybody be bought over? Are there no longer men and women of valour who could stand up to the man? Are there no longer men with scrotums who could look the man in the eye and tell him to go to hell? What do they do with all the money they collect from the man?
My heart is bleeding right now over the enslavement of my people. I read from a source that Abia State had collected over 600 billion Naira in 7 years as revenue. Where has all the money gone to? I was home in 2012 on a short vacation and what I saw did not justify this huge sum. It means simply that somebody is stealing from our common patrimony. And whoever it is that stole should be arrested – immunity or no immunity.
What I saw on that visit was existing structures being renovated and repainted. The few new ones such as the state secretariat complex, Judiciary building, and conference centre did not add up to N6billion naira. I was in Aba when I made that trip home in 2012, and all the roads were in bad shape. I went to see my maternal uncle, Ibeka, whose son stays with me in Tennessee, and was almost wading through water to access his residence. Even the recent stories I hear about roads in the city of Aba are frightening. If the pictures published in the media about the state of roads in Aba are true, then we are all in trouble.
I cannot stop asking: where has all the money gone? Why is nobody asking questions? Where are our Senators and members of House of Representatives, legislators in the State House of Assembly, members of boards of federal government agencies, elders, church leaders, traditional Rulers? Where are they? Where is everybody? For how long are they going to keep quite; probably until all of us are dead?
I know for sure that this kind of tyranny and highhandedness cannot happen anywhere in the United States. Why have we allowed it to happen in Abia State? What about the security agencies? Is it not their duty to investigate and arrest people who are a threat to the peaceful existence and development of Nigeria? Somebody like the governor should have been called to order if we had men in Abia State.
In spite of the sad developments from Abia State the governor still has the effrontery to seek a ticket to the Senate when he should be hiding his face in shame. Not only that: I have also heard that the governor has concluded plans, in collusion with some mischievous people, to hand over the governorship ticket to a crony who would do his biddings in office. If he succeeds in achieving these two goals then Abia State is dead and buried. Again, it will amount to double-tragedy if he is allowed to handpick his successor and at the same time go to the Senate.
His mission to the Senate is nothing short of a coup against the people of our state. His 8-year tenure has been a disaster. Imagine what will happen when he gets the kind of successor he desires. That is corruption unlimited.
Let me tell the governor in plain language that he is going nowhere and he is not gonna pick his successor. Those of us in the United States are liaising with our brothers in Europe and Asia to stop this mindless rape on our frightened people.
The liberation struggle for the soul of Abia State is a collective one. It involves everybody who loves Abia State, believes in equity and social justice, stands up for the truth. It is not a fight for Orji Uzor alone. It is a mass movement of people who have been suppressed and trampled under feet for too long.
I find it offensive and demeaning whenever I hear the governor boast about his connection at Aso Rock. He was in the States the other time and all he spent time talking about was how close he was to the President and his wife. He even boasts that no human force can do anything to him. It will be in the interest of President Jonathan to clear his name, because our people see him as a partner with the governor in the disservice T.A. Orji does to our people. He cannot be totally free when the judgment against T.A. Orji will come. He should also direct that the National Honour of Commander Order on Nigeria (CON) about to be conferred on him be withdrawn forthwith. What justification does the Jonathan government have for nominating such a man for a National Honour? Is Commander Order of the Niger for impoverishing our people or for destroying the peace and brotherhood that had existed among our people before he came?
I am ardent supporter of the President and his ambition to retain his position in 2015. In fact, I lead a strong group that is working hard to make his second term dream come through. Therefore, I doubt if he would be supporting a non-performing and corrupt governor. Abians believe so much in President Jonathan; which is why we are working relentlessly to retain him in Aso Rock. The only way he can keep enjoying our confidence is to call the governor to order. The first thing to do is to call the security agencies, especially the Army, to order. He uses them to harass and intimidate people. What we have in place today is a democracy and not military rule. Allowing a civilian governor to use the army and other security agencies as he desires is a travesty and dehumanization of such institutions.
What is brewing in Abia State is anarchy and when it happens the consequences shall be grave. We love our state and our people. This is why we are working assiduously to ensure that evil does not take root in Abia State. The interest and greed of one man should not be allowed to jeopardize the future of our children and endanger our democracy.
This is the time for all Abians to rise up and take their destiny in their hands and confront this evil that has sprung up in our state before it consumes all of us. Those who have chosen to collude with the governor to destroy Abia State will have destruction at the sentinel of their doors.
Certainly, God is watching!
(Dr. Nwariaku lives in Tennessee, United States.)