BY ROBERT OBIOHA
Since T.A Orji assumed power as the governor of Abia State, he has always been in the news, not necessarily for good reasons. This is why critics see him as one of the under-performing governors in the South-East. The state of roads in Abia and the general decay of infrastructure in God’s own state justify the grading. This is a man who became governor from Kirikiri Prisons without his strides. Before becoming governor, he served as Chief of Staff to Chief Orji Uzor Kalu for eight good years.
He came to power on groundswell of goodwill. Has he squandered it? Please fill the gaps. What is currently happening in Abia PDP shows that T.A Orji has forgotten a lot of things. Perhaps, this has to do with the collective amnesia among Nigerians. We forget easily in this country or we choose to do selective remembering. So, what has gone wrong? I tend to believe that Orji is both a victim of general and selective amnesia.
He must have forgotten where the rain started beating him and as such cannot remember exactly where it stopped. If he has forgotten everything, he should at least remember that somebody was instrumental to his becoming the Abia State governor. The person that did it deserves respect and honour and not opprobrium.
The problem with Nigerian politics is the dearth of mentorship and those mentored forgetting their mentors immediately power is entrusted in their hands. It is also the bane of Nigerian business as well. Please don’t misconstrue my intention here with godfatherism.
They are poles apart. Mentoring is healthy to the growth and development of all in the society. Nigeria would have developed more if the culture of mentoring is allowed to flourish. Politicians should, at least, be honourable in most of things they do.
That is why their names are prefixed with such terms as Honourable and His Excellency. Let governors be excellent in their conduct to merit the title. That is why the recent show of shame by some Abia politicians led by T.A Orji to Abuja is unbelievable. In their reenactment of the drama of the absurd, these politicians, who called themselves stakeholders of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in the State went to the party’s national secretariat in Abuja to protest a rumoured return to the party of former Abia State Governor and founding member of the party, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu.
The dramatis personae in this comic drama are the incumbent governor of the state, Chief T.A. Orji, National Vice-Chairman of the party in the South-East, Col. Austin Akobundu (rtd), Senators Nkechi Nwogu and Enyinnaya Abaribe and former national chairman of the party, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor. Akobundu, who spoke for the enraged group, posited that the return of Kalu to the party will undermine the peaceful co-existence and camaraderie existing among party stalwarts in the state.
Though the group was full of praise for the initiative of the party’s national leadership to reconcile aggrieved members, nevertheless it warned that the readmission of Kalu “would cause disaffection or return us to the battlefield of hostilities and would be stoutly resisted.” They failed to explain how his readmission will cause fire and brimstone to the party and to themselves.
Up to the time of writing this piece, no Abia Government functionary or Abia PDP member has come up with justifiable reasons for their fears. Without wasting time and over-labouring the issue, these Abians who went to Abuja with nothing but to prevent a former governor of the state under the party and a frontline foundation member of the party from rejoining the party have demonstrated that they have nothing to offer the good people of Abia. Their action is evil, callous and irrational. It is borne out of, hatred, wickedness and jealousy. Let me remind them that they do not have the right under the 1999 Constitution to even contemplate what they have done. In fact, they lack the ability to do what they are saying.
Their position is undemocratic and an infringement on Kalu’s human rights and freedom of association. Why must they travel all the way from Umuahia to Abuja to ask for the exclusion of their brother from the party? Who advised them into such misadventure? Are their no elders in Abia again? Where has the Igbo spirit of onye aghala nwanne ya gone? Why should they do this when Kalu has not even declared his intention to return to the party? Perhaps, they are afraid of his presence.
This is happening at a time Chief Kalu has not even given expression to such intention. What political mileage will Orji and his co-travellers gain if Kalu is not allowed to return to the PDP? Surely, they will gain nothing. All these born-again PDP members were once in ANPP, APGA and other parties before they crossed over to the PDP.
When has carpet-crossing been outlawed in Nigeria? They have ridiculed themselves before Nigerians and the PDP chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, who made reconciliation of PDP erstwhile members a cardinal programme of his chairmanship. These Abians deluding themselves with unfounded biases against Kalu should note seriously that they have no power to prevent Kalu from returning to the PDP if he wants to do so. At present, Kalu is more preoccupied with the Njiko Igbo project which is working towards the realization of an Igbo president. Joining the PDP is the least thing in Kalu’s mind right now.
The Igbo presidency project is bigger than coming back to the PDP. What the so-called Abia PDP stakeholders have said expressly contradicts Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution, which categorically states that “Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests.” Kalu should be allowed to exercise his rights as enshrined in the Constitution.
That the Abia political office holders in Umuahia are afraid of Kalu many years after he left office shows that Kalu is of immense clout and relevance in the state. It shows that Kalu is still a big force to be reckoned with in Abia politics and that he has large followership in the state. It shows that their campaign of hate and calumny against Kalu is working against them. Why in the first place should they be afraid of him?
I cannot see why the self-styled Ochendo is afraid of Kalu’s shadows. If he does not perform well, he will blame it on Kalu. One would have thought that after the so-called liberation, he would have performed magic and make Abia a heaven on earth. Instead, we keep seeing abandoned road projects and promises upon promises. The sorry state of roads in Abia is indicative of retrogression in Abia under his watch. Orji has through his anti-people policies inflicted pains on Abians and other Igbos in the state through his non-indigene policy.
Since he came into power, what has he done in Umuahia, the state capital? The governor should concentrate on how to deliver his electoral promises to Abia people and stop the Kalu hate-campaigns. Those campaigns are already working against him and his administration.
There are so many things that Ochendo can still do before leaving office in 2015. Apart from keeping Umuahia roads in good shape, he has a lot of work to do in Aba, the commercial nerve centre of Abia State. It is painful that many Aba residents have relocated to Uyo, Calabar and other towns in the East because of the dilapidated conditions of Aba roads. He should do something and reclaim the lost glory of Aba. These are issues begging for his urgent attention and not which party Kalu should belong.