Abia: Of development and succession
Abia State governor, Chief Theodore Ahamuefule Orji assumed office as governor of Abia State in May 2007, 17 years after the creation of the state from Old Imo State. Within those years, military administrators were in-charge for eight-years, while their civilian counterparts held sway for nine years. Within this period also, the state received monthly federation allocations and generated Internally Generated Revenues (IGR) that ran into billions of naira with nothing on ground in terms of infrastructural, economic and social developments to show for it.
Those who presided over the affairs of the state for the 17 locust years and their allies were never brought to book. During this era, the state haemorrhaged and decayed in all ramifications, while the looters of the era smiled to the banks, and even ploughed the loots into the state politics in 1999 to hijack the democratic process. They took charge, and decided who got what. By 2007, there was no concrete or solid foundation as the state was laid waste.
That was the sorry state of affairs in Abia State in 2007 which one Uche Igwe in a recent article in The Punch of May 21 titled “The Struggle to succeed failure in Abia State” failed to acknowledge in his bid to run down Abia State governor and his family, his government, and the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan ahead of 2015 general elections. It is said that a man who was not around when a corpse is buried would definitely exhume it from the head. I do not know when last Igwe came to Abia State before engaging in his fictitious article. However, every Nigerian familiar with Enugu/ Aba/ Port-Harcourt Expressway, a major federal road that has suffered severe neglect by successive governments in the country, will appreciate how much it has received and continue to receive attention since President Goodluck Jonathan assumed office. Several portions of the road have been removed completely and asphalted afresh, thereby making it accessible.
The Aba axis of the road such as Osisioma junction which was an eyesore for several years before now is wearing a new look today with a well-flowered garden and streetlights courtesy of the present government in the state. The same effort has been extended to major intercity roads and federal roads in the commercial city of Aba and environs, a city that was once made a pariah by the rampaging kidnappers for months. The present government expended billions in tackling the kidnapping saga which brought about the restoration of peace and security in the state without minding whose ox is gored or apportioning blame to anybody. If such funds had been channelled into developmental projects, it would have gone far, but there will no development in an unsecured environment.
To pontificate that nothing is happening in Abia state in terms of infrastructural, economic and social-cultural developments is the height of hypocrisy and cynicism as there are so many verifiable on-going and completed legacy projects across the state today. Among them are the Ubani Ibeku Modern market, Amuba Housing Estate, Isieke Housing Estate, Abia Diagnostic Hospital, Abia Eye Centre, Amachara General Hospital, Ohiya Power station, the International Conference Centre, the new Government House, 250 health centres in rural areas, 350 kilometres of roads constructed and rehabilitated, the radical reformation of the state civil service, the intervention in education sector with the building and rebuilding of state-owned public schools and tertiary institutions and other achievements. These legacy projects were non-existent before 2007. So the question should be; what happened to the state funds for 17 years before the present government came into office in 2007?
The reality is that despite the initial menace of a godfather that hamstrung Governor Orji’s government for the first three years, the government has continued to turn the state round with massive infrastructural developments to the admiration and acknowledgement of the people, and disappointment and envy of the cabal who had always wanted status quo to remain. What the armchair critics of the state government have failed to realize is that the government since 2007 has been using state funds of seven years plus to address the ineptitude and failure of successive governments before it.
As for allegations that Governor Orji’s son is one of the major contractors in the state, it is part of the Pull Him Down syndrome orchestrated by the known enemies of the state ahead of 2015. It is unfortunate that these days when Freedom of Information (FoI) Act has been signed into law, people still peddle fiction on the pages of newspapers.
Clearly and expectedly, all these sponsored machinations against Governor Orji and his family are not unconnected with politics of 2015, and who succeeds him office. To douse unnecessary tension and political acrimony among the party stakeholders in the state, the governor, who also doubles as the state leader of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after due consultation announced that his party will be zoning the governorship seat in 2015 to Abia South senatorial zone. A good student of political history of the state since 1999 will agree that PDP’s decision in that direction is equitable and justifiable, considering that Abia South is the only zone that has not produced governor for the state since 1999.
Orji and his party’s position on the governorship seat in 2015 is not far from what obtained in the last Anambra governorship election, and the position of Enugu State governor, Sullivan Chime and the state PDP ahead of 2015 gubernatorial election in the state. This is fast becoming a political trend in our polity, especially in states that are not dominated by one particular major ethnic group like Benue State that are predominantly Tiv against the minority Idoma.
Again the State PDP and Governor Orji have not endorsed or anointed anybody as Orji’s likely successor, having known that such will amount to distraction and illegality at this point in time. Meanwhile, the senator representing Abia Central zone, Nkechi Nworgu has not said anywhere that she has been anointed by the wife of the President, Dame Patience Jonathan to succeed Governor Orji come 2015. Governor Orji has also not publicly or privately declared that he will be running for the senatorial seat in 2015 talk less of swapping seat with Senator Nworgu.
On the issue of non-conduct of local government election by the state government, what needs to be borne in mind is that the exercise requires huge funds. Besides, the state government is yet to offset the huge debts incurred by the last council chairmen under the watch of the past administration. Finally, measuring the performance in public office like that of a state governor in Abia requires assessing the performance of successive governments in the state before 2007, where were on ground in the area of infrastructural developments, the challenges and the human indices and then compare them with what are on ground now.
• Chukwu, wrote Bende, Abia State
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