Eleven months after he left office, former Abia State governor, Chief Theodore Orji, is still being assessed by indigenes of the state, who are unimpressed by his conduct. Speaking on the last government, Comrade Sam Igwe, leader of Agenda for Abia Advancement (AAA) and former Secretary General of Ibeku Youth Association, said Abia never fared well between 2017 and 2015.
He spoke on this and on the current administration of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.
As a former Secretary-General of Ibeku Youth Association, what is your assessment of the immediate past government in Abia State under the leadership of a fellow Ibeku man, Chief Theodore Orji?
No genuine Ibeku son or Abia son would ever wish to remember the past administration of Chief TA Orji. That era between 2007 and now remains Abia’s darkest years. In fact, it can best be described as an era eaten by the locust. It was an era of total leadership collapse. It was an era of intimidation and open threat to the lives of defenceless Ibeku people by their own son and Ndi Abia at large. In my own case, Chief TA Orji sent some people to threaten, harass and intimidate my aged mother who was 84 at the time, my eldest sister and in-law. To be specific, on Monday morning, 17/2/14, they were at my country home at Ubani Emede Ibeku and also at Uzuakoli, my eldest sister/in-law’s country home. The permanent secretary, who said he was acting for the then governor, said the government would kill me if I didn’t stop criticising the government. My mother’s health was adversely affected by this act and she has not recovered from this threat up till this day.
Chief TA Orji destroyed the existing unity he met in Ibeku land before he became governor. He destroyed Ibeku Youth Association by hijacking its cultural structures, using his son, Chinedu. He built roads only to areas leading to the houses of his friends. Example, Ubani Emede Ibeku road was abandoned because he saw no one in Ubani despite the fact that the Umuahia market, though another known scam was located in Ubani without any form of compensation. Ofeke Ndume Ibeku road was also abandoned because they refused to donate their land for the relocation of timber market, Umuahia.
In fact, the worst thing done to Abia by former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu was his gift of TA Orji to Abians. TA Orji brought untold hardship to Abians. His government introduced employment scam in Abia State, a situation were poor youths were deceived into purchasing employment forms in a state, where there were no jobs. The then government through its Civil Service Commission defrauded our youths. They made millions of Naira in this employment scam.
Do you think Governor Okezie Ikpeazu-led government will make the difference?
Dr. Ikpeazu’s government is a stillbirth. It was dead on arrival. You cannot give what you don’t have. Unfortunately, what we are seeing today in Abia is what I will call ‘Leadership diminishing returns.’ The best civilian governor that has governed Abia State is Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu. After him, leadership has declined drastically and under Dr. Ikpeazu, Abia is worse for it. The present governor is only an instrument in the hands of his godfathers; that is the immediate past governor and his son. Have you asked yourself why after receiving over N14 billion as bailout fund, Abia still owes salaries to the tune of three to seven months? Despite our huge monthly allocation, Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), taxation
etc, 11 months into this new government, workers salaries have not been paid accordingly? The government has no blueprint for the development of Abia. Substandard roads built in Aba are already abandoned, equipment used for road construction are near dead and Aba at the moment is a deathtrap yet we have a government in Abia State.
But the people of the state had the opportunity to correct these anomalies in the last general elections.
We must take note of the following. One, Ndi Abia voted for change; 80 per cent of Ndi Abia voted for change. They voted Dr. Alex Otti of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) for governor. As you are aware, he won clearly 14 of the 17 local government areas in the state. However, the good people of Abia were denied change due to our weak electoral system. These same people are not ready to submit to this present government as it is alien to them. Therefore we have an unpopular government in Abia State ab initio.
Secondly, Abia State is too big for Dr. Ikpeazu. In the past administration, he was the Deputy Manager of Abia State Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA) in charge of Aba alone. In that capacity, he failed woefully. Aba was and still remains a stinking town due to the leadership ineptitude at the time and at the moment.
Thirdly, Dr. Ikpeazu lacks the skills, know how and knowledge to govern Abia as this is evident in the lack of policy direction of the government in its 11 months inept leadership in the state.
Fourthly, no governor survives in the bondage of a godfather. Unfortunately for Abia, he (Ikpeazu) has two godfathers, father and son.
Are the opposition parties in Abia checkmating the excesses of the Ikpeazu-led administration?
In my view, I would say they are not doing anything. Ndi Abia expects the nine members on the platform of APGA elected in the House of Assembly to represent a formidable opposition. Ndi Abia expects the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state and APGA to lead a strong virile opposition. The people need action. At times, I wonder if the parties have state publicity secretaries at all.
Where do you see Abia in 2019?
It is no longer business as usual in the politics of Abia State. Hope you were aware that Chief T.A Orji, the present government and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were randomly rejected during the last elections in the state. Hope you were aware that during the 2011 general elections, a unified one party Abia gave the PDP over one million votes during the presidential elections. What happened in 2015? PDP could only give the then PDP president at the time only 300, 000 votes despite all the rigging. The fact remains that Ndi Abia voted for change during the 2015 elections. Ndi Abia voted Dr. Alex Otti of APGA for governor and Muhammadu Buhari of APC for president because they wanted a radical departure from the claws of PDP both in Abia and at the federal level but were massively rigged out by the PDP. Despite the rigging they could only deliver roughly 300,000 votes to the then president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
What informed the rejection of the PDP, which hitherto called the shots in the state?
Prior to the 2015 general elections, Ndi Abia were so disenchanted by the total collapse of governance in the state led by the tripod of father, son and wife that held the state hostage for eight dark years. Ndi Abia were not happy that Abia was a satellite campus of Abuja under the firm control of former president’s wife, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, whose arrogance at the time was embarrassing. Prior to the last elections in the state, Abia was a one party state. Then, when you picked the PDP ticket during its party primaries you were seen as the elected representative for that office in-waiting. This is no longer the case for Abia or for PDP in the state.
A situation where the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the state openly worked for PDP in the last election is also a thing of the past now. As you can see, APC now controls the Federal Government and we are confident that the leadership of President Buhari will not allow such indiscipline to see the light of day. 2019 is indeed pregnant and Ndi Abia are expectant that their desired change will either come before 2019 by God’s grace or by 2019. It is visible to all that the present occupiers of Government House cannot win re-election in 2019. In God we trust.