I wish to say a big congratulation to you, HE, Dr. Okezie Victor Chibuikem Ikpeazu, on finishing your first four years and being inaugurated for a fresh tenure.
Your Excellency, sir, permit me to go a bit down the memory lane. Since the return of democracy in Nigeria, and Abia in particular, no governor’s inauguration has enjoyed the high-level of fun fare, hilarity and acceptance than yours of May 29, 2015. It was electrifying. The reasons were obvious. You are the first governor (or anything that looks like it) of Ukwa-Ngwa extraction dating back from days in old Eastern Region and Imo State. This is after an age-long political struggle by eminent sons, daughters and masses of this divide. The message of the struggles I’m not going to bother you with because you know them like the back of your palms. The negative implications of their staying too long out of the states’ mainstream politics you also know. All is now history.
Before going into the meat of my writing, forgive me for choosing to write you openly this time round. I have written some other times (even with acknowledgements) but nothing changed. Without sounding immodest, I am one of your die-hard supporters. I have not repented from it, and won’t do anytime soon. Also, forgive me (if I interrupt your cerebral mood). Please dismiss me (if need be) but don’t dismiss my message. I also appeal to your press corps, internet cum social media renters and “All-Government-in-Power” sycophants around you to show mercy for the poor writer I have already decided to be in this letter; accept my message and spare my dignity.
With all sense responsibility, am not representing any political interest in the state other than the poor, disappointed and wailing masses who you profess to love and always admonish to join hands with you in developing the state. I am also an ardent and loyal PDP member since 1998. I have never switched my membership. I am only pouring out my mind. By the way, “na suicide dey reign now.” I can’t continue to pretend while being seriously depressed. No one can own Abia more than Ndi Abia. Neither can anyone love you, my governor, more than people like us who travel thousands of miles from where we go to look for greener pastures (some of us out of the collapse of the socioeconomic foundations of the state under previous administrations) to come home to vote for you during elections, and yet choose to criticise you when necessary. It’s always a rare courage in our climes. Before they begin to accuse me of being against an Ngwaman in his turn, Your Excellency, am an Ngwaman too, born and brought up in Isiala Ngwa South. You’re my brother. Bad belle foreclosed!
Now the meat of my writing. Your Excellency, sir, you tried in certain areas in your previous tenure but failed much more in mundane areas. Permit me to give instances, challenge, compare and contrast in this letter.
In marketing the Abia Brand, or what you coined ‘Made in Aba,’ you did excellently. However, when entrepreneurs like us picked up your invitation messages to attract investors into the state, you paid less attention to us either because our fathers’, forefathers’ and uncles’ names are not familiar to you. I also don’t rule out the handiwork of people in the corridors of power. I won’t classify all of them as sycophants, but they are in majority. Whereas, in other states like Ebonyi, Niger, Taraba, etc, they lose their patience once they hear “investor” let alone “foreign investors.”
In road construction and Aba (Re)Urbanization, you tried a bit but failed more in holding momentum. Yes! Projects that ought not to stay beyond two years to be completed, commissioned to celebrate the end of your first tenure and herald in a new era has snowballed into your second tenure despite the endless assurances. I don’t want to talk about the cost, choice, timing and preference of some of them. Example is the Osisioma Flyover, Umule, Port Harcourt Roads, etc. In states like Delta and Ebonyi too, it took those states less than two years to deliver much bigger and same projects. Defence will be that finance is not there. But we are already obsessed with this narrative. I and other Abians want you to perform miracles like raising Lazarus from the tomb. That’s why we voted you despite more sugar-coated campaign messages of your opponents then and now.
Your Excellency, you travelled a lot in your first tenure. There is an adage in the land of our fathers that says: “Whe nfere oke amaghu nma” (too much of anything is bad). Let’s assume those travellings have afforded you the opportunity to peer-review. Please, in this second tenure deliver all that you’ve learnt in travelling to other states and abroad. Similarly, you attended to many, very less-important events even the ones meant for the local government and state party chairmen, or that you ought to delegate your deputy or any of your numerous aides. By virtue of your position as freely given to you by our God Almighty and Abians, you’re the most dignified Abian. This doesn’t tamper with your humble nature. To be candid, I want to see you more at project sites, unannounced visits to Ministries, Departments and Agencies. I want to see you more hosting and attending investors’ fora in the state. You’re the Abia CEO. You weren’t the 21st century CEO in your first tenure. Be it this time, sir.
One more thing sir, you hired too many hands. Though some of your appointments were strategic, much more were useless, sycophantic and demeaning at the expense of the already much taunted “poor revenue base” of the state. Yes! You could say you had wanted to “carry” everyone along but not when all pensioners and some categories of civil servants were being owed heavily before you took over. In fact, you are one of the best employers I have ever known. You only hire. You rarely fire. That’s why most of your appointees ran down some cash cow institutions in the state; and are shamelessly giving us a thousand and one reasons for failing. Can you remember that when you changed hands in places like ASPIMSS things also changed for better in those organizations? Realest leaders hire and fire mercilessly. President Donald Trump fired his Defence Secretary, Jim Mattis even while the guy was on air to his errand. Our own former President Jonathan fired Professor Bath Nnaji and host others shockingly. What am saying is that you would have been a “no nonsense” governor.
Moreover, you made unforgivable failures in deploying information technology and other scientific methods available to us to mobilise the state’s internally-generated revenue. Here, you failed woefully. There is no excuse that you would give to exculpate yourself sir. What we saw (and are praying not to see further) is using of the state revenue channels to settle political allies, most of them jobbers amidst dwindling federal allocations tides. This is an own goal. You can’t continue like that Your Excellency. Say NO to it. Heavens will not fall. If it means to step on toes, please do. Our happiness and lives depend on it. Its today’s and future results will vindicate you. By the way, you swore with the law and Holy Bible to do that which only guarantees our welfare. In this fresh tenure, let it be an end to the era of stick-wielding and marijuana-munching revenue collectors on our highways and any other place in the state.
Your Excellency sir, local governments were crawling before you took over. Things have gone worst under your watch. This wasn’t like you sir. Please selflessly right the wrongs during this fresh tenure. Let them stand as arms they are constitutionally, and deploy them rightly. You’ll eternally be remembered for it.
In health sector you made efforts to change its sorry state, but I leave it to your conscience as a hygiene expert, doctor and teacher of it at that (equivalent to a medical professional) to judge. Okpula Ngwa General Hospital and others didn’t fare well than you met them. True! I didn’t start today but we voted you to change the story for better.
On the economy of time, you met a state that was running almost a 24hrs economy but reduced it to a 15hrs economy by limiting operational hours of tricycle operators aka Keke Napep despite being huge revenue layers in the state. You hinged your decision on the security of the state. I leave it to your conscience as well to adjudge if those sundry crimes have left our cities when you almost reversed it during the electioneering. In Imo and Ebonyi states, yes Ebonyi again, they run 24/7 with no such security brouhaha and abracadabra. AlI well-performing economies (home and abroad) run nonstop. How I wish you (or anyone) can prove me wrong on this sir!
There are so many other sectors we expected positive changes, or at least improvements but are disappointed. Please don’t take our voting you again as gullibility. We did it out of love. Please sir, don’t disappoint us again in this your second tenure.
Sir, please permit me offer a few kobo suggestions, even as some of them may sound weird and radical to you, or be dismissed by your advisers. Please, accept them as there are no cheaper and better shortcuts.
One, sir, avoid sycophants like cancer in this your second tenure. When you sit down in your humility alone ask yourself: “who amongst the people following me around, praising, hailing, calling me all sorts of exotic and superfluous names today, weren’t in the administrations of my immediate predecessors?” My governor, Na dem! Same people! Na dem go still cast you tomorrow. I don’t need to remind you of how some of them abandoned you during your legal battles, only to come back the moment all was legally Uhuru. Please sir, am begging you with all passion, to change hands (cabinet and other aides). Inject fresh, intelligent, proactive and youthful hands with capacity, competence and character as the only qualification for employing and deploying your incoming team. Muster the courage to employ and deploy people that will ask you frantic questions when they matter most. Don’t replicate failed appointees. Only a few should make it back, and let these few be strictly on a generally acceptable performance. Forget about the empowerment mantra. Abian masses need empowerment more than any single individual or group in the state, no matter how highly placed. The real empowerments should be in constructing rural roads, an airport, the proposed Enyimba Economic City, fixing street lights along Enugu-Port Harcourt, Aba-Ikot Ekpene, Owerrinta Bridge-Umuikaa Junction Express ways, and other strategic roads in the state.
Two, sir, be ready to partner anybody, no matter how lowly placed, who attracts investors into the state.
Three, please sir, stop politicising your flagship projects, lest, you contend them with forces within and outside the state. It also deflates investors’ confidence. Deliver these projects silently. It will be left for us to adjudge when you leave office in 2023. From the caption of this my letter, the first of your four years is gone, another one is here; 2023 is also here. Please don’t fail to write your name in gold.
Four, my governor, please avoid fabulous expenses. You can travel much less, even to Abuja. When it becomes a sine quo non, use the most economising and safe means available. I and a host of other Abians want to beat our chests and thank God that we voted a solution-provider as governor.
Your Excellency sir, don’t mind my unbridled pen, muster the courage to love and encourage a few of us who shun sentiments, criticise you, call you out to face your job. We mean well for you. Because we voted you, we feel culpable in the event of your failure. Don’t come after us with the state power because we refused to stay aloof in the midst avoidable failures. Sir, don’t also bar us for refusing to coin or rate you with late Dee Mbakwe or Dee Okpara. Calling you that is pure flattery. I, and so many others, will not, because in your first four years you didn’t deliver one-quarter of any of their achievements. Did you build new Abia Palm, Ogwe Golden Chicken, any (Abia) airport? Did you fulfil your promise of completing the Enyimba Hotel? Did you reactivate Morden Ceramics? Even the much taunted Golden Guinea and International Glass Industry, are they state-financed? Sir, with due respect, you are neither of these men. Anyone who equates you with them is a liar from the pit of hell. You are Dr. Okezie Victor Chibuikem Ikpeazu. And after May 29, 2023, you will be adjudged as same. Don’t mind flatterers and sycophants. They say the worst at your back within your shortest absence, and would say much more grievous things like they did to your predecessors immediately after you leave in 2023, if you fail. Please don’t fail.
Sir, one more thing, return Abia economy to a 24/7 economy. Lift the restriction on the operational hours of tricyle operators. They are adjudged as the poor. God will count it for you as righteousness. Don’t mind people that will advise you otherwise. One writer by name Ellen G. White says:t “All good deeds will immortalise,” permit me to add “no matter how small.” Yes! By the way, it will improve our state’s economy, revive hospitality and tourism in our cities.
Sir, forgive me for bothering you this time round with a lengthy letter. Also forgive me for usurping your powers by appointing myself your “Special Adviser on Safety Lanes” in this your second tenure. As time permits, I will always write you for good and for bad. No strings attached.
Please accept my warmest congratulations sir.
Comrade Obioma Enwereji.