The Nigerian Army on Friday released 275 detainees after they had been cleared of being members of the Boko Haram sect. Hassan Umaru, theater commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, handed over the detainees to Kashim Shettima, governor of Borno state, at a ceremony in Maiduguri. Umaru said the detainees included 271 Nigerians and two nationals each…
In the last couple of months, some readers have been accusing me of writing about socio-political developments and failures of government in other states of Nigeria, while keeping a blind eye on the happenings in my home state, Abia. One particular reader, who, incidentally, is from Abia State, went to the extent of accusing me of deliberately indulging in what could pass for “Afghanistanism” over issues pertaining to the state.
He said, in his short text message (SMS), that worse things were happening in Abia than in some of the states I had commented on, but I refused to write on them. He thought that this was not fair on the people of Abia, insisting that if Abia becomes a failed state, those who refused to speak out would take the greater blame. I share these people’s sentiments.
However, I must say I have not, consciously or unconsciously, taken a trip to Afghanistan over matters concerning Abia State. I couldn’t have. Not long ago, I did write an article about the state government’s pastime of always blaming former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu for its obvious failures and inactions, for instance. In that article, which highlighted the “Kaluphobia” in Abia State, I stated that the mention of the former governor’s name was making some people, most especially the state governor, Chief Theodore Amaefula Orji, to catch cold. I stated that while the state government was dissipating energy on anti-Kalu smear campaign, the state was decaying, with bad roads everywhere and unpaid salaries.
It was an article borne out of disappointment that a governor, which shouted at the rooftops that it would perform wonders if it severed relationship with his political godfather, has not done much, in the true sense of it, four years thereafter. It’s pertinent to note that when the article was published, Governor Orji’s aides, in their character, did call me names. Funny enough, they could not say anything to convince discerning Nigerians that I was wrong in my position. Instead of proving that they had transformed Abia, they attacked Kalu and priding themselves as having done better than him in government.
I bet you that they would do the same after reading this article. They would start attacking Kalu instead of addressing the issues therein. This would not be surprising. When only sycophants and hired hands say that a government is doing well, in the midst of disappointment expressed by the majority, you can be sure that the glory of God and the goodwill of the people have left it. The truth is that in their praise-singing, they would not cover up the fact that Abia has degenerated from God’s Own State to a land of thorns and thistle, where the people expected bread and fish and the government gave them stones and snakes. I have looked at the TA Orji government and cannot but say that it’s irredeemable.
I have not seen any conscious effort by the government to leave an indelible mark in Abia State. What I see is an avalanche of excuses, for any thing not done. If people complain of bad roads, the government blames the rain. If lawyers stage a protest over bad roads, the government calls them sponsored group. If pensioners protest non-payment of their pension, government would call them disgruntled elements. If civil servants complain about non-payment of salaries, government would blame low federal allocation.
Of course, no amount of excuses would make up for the failures of government to fulfil its Social Contract with the people. A government, which is deaf to the cries of the people, in Aba, Umuahia, Ukwa, Ngwa and other places and which prefers to chase shadows cannot get anybody’s commendation. It’s sad that a government, whose people are daily crying over wanton neglect would rather embark on ego trip than use the instrumentality of power to better the lot of the majority.
The other day, Governor Orji and the so-called Abia stakeholders left state functions and other things for a self-serving mission at the national headquarters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The group said they were in Abuja to persuade the leadership of the PDP not to readmit Kalu in the political party. It’s unbelievable that men, who call themselves men, including a governor, senators, former secretary to a national political party and others, traveled all the way from Abia to Abuja, spending state government’s funds in a trip aimed at stopping one man from exercising his fundamental rights.
Such bahaviour is tantamount to a man chasing rat while his house is on fire. In any case, isn’t it funny that people who said Kalu no longer has political relevance in Abia State are afraid of his shadows in the PDP? Now that they are having sleepless night that PDP, in its reconciliation programme, may readmit Kalu, I wonder what they would do if Kalu accepts to rejoin the political party. To say the least, it’s incredible that Governor Orji and his co-travellers are playing god in a democracy, when they had, at one time or another, changed political parties.
These are PDP co-joiners who are trying to determine those who would join the political party. To be sure, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor was in the All Peoples Party (APP) in 1999. He lost the governorship election to Kalu and later defected to PDP, from where he became a minister, as Kalu’s nominee. Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, who was made deputy governor by Kalu in 1999, defected from PDP, in 2003, to the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), on whose platform he contested for the position of governor. He lost and later returned to PDP, from where he became a senator in 2007.
Senator Ngozi Nwoga was a member of ANPP and later defected to PDP. Governor TA Orji had defected from the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), on whose platform he became governor, to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), first, and finally to the PDP. These are people who are now pretending to be better PDP members than others. Joiners, who may defect at the drop of the heart, if they think that their bread would be better buttered in another political party, are now determining who should join the PDP or not. For the sake of argument, let’s even assume that Kalu wants to return to PDP. It’s obvious that he would not have committed any offence if he so wishes.
The constitution guarantees freedom of association and therefore, anybody whatsoever could join any union, group or association of his or her choice. If Kalu wants to rejoin PDP, it’s his fundamental rights. As long as he meets the requirement of the PDP, he could join. It is not for TA Orji to determine his suitability or otherwise. In any case, what standing does Governor Orji and others have to determine who should join the PDP or not? Has anybody asked him and others where they were in 1998 when Kalu donated $1 million to facilitate the take off and smooth running of the PDP.
Where also were these people when Kalu established, built and won the governorship election in Abia, in 1999? Unlike them, Kalu never dumped PDP. He was rather chased out when then President Olusegun Obasanjo used the re-registration exercise of the political party to kick out people he did not like. TA Orji and his government should devote their time to cater to the needs of Abia people. Aba roads are in a state of disrepair, with craters, potholes and flood dotting them. Recently when The Sun published a report on Aba roads, the government publicists said the pictures used were taken when Kalu was governor. Last week, the government said it was going to rehabilitate more than 10 roads in Aba.
The truth has eventually come out. Civil servants in Abia are owed salaries for months. Pensioners are owed arrears of their pension. Instead of solving these socio-economic problems, TA Orji is devoting his time and resources to a self-serving campaign of stopping Kalu from rejoining the PDP. Time is running out on the Abia government. It’s almost two years gone, with two more years to go. By 2015 when TA Orji would have completed his two terms of eight years, some of us will not be surprise that the only thing he would have, as his major achievement, would be the smear campaign he mounted against Kalu.
I hope that by them he could walk the street of Aba, most especially, and not experience what happened last year, during the lying-in-state of the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, when angry Aba residents showed their displeasure with the government by pelting the governor with stones when he mounted the podium to speak.