FOR the seven years I have kept this column, I have refrained from discussing events in Abia, my state, with the passion it deserves. It is not for lack of what to say, on the contrary like the late Bob Marley sang in a song, “There is so much to say.” I took the position of silence because sometimes silence could say a lot more than what words can convey. It should be more so when you have shared companionship with those who could be targets of your reviews and critical scrutiny. In this kind of situation private communication is ideal and I know I did try to take advantage of it. It didn’t produce the results I expected and the reasons I know. In Abia State, the political philosophy in the last 10 years has been the victor and the vanquished, there is no middle ground. In fact in the estimation of the victorious party, it is a case of “we and them.” The defeated must be weakened or exterminated. This explains why many good brains have taken flight and Abia appears the loser. I think it is time for all progressive forces that have been silent and dormant, to break the culture of “siddon look” and come forward to participate in the scheme of things. Okezie Ikpeazu needs help and the challenge of Abia requires that all hands be on deck.
For sure, Okezie Ikpeazu has no hand in what has become of Abia today but if we love him and this state we must repeatedly state the fact to his hearing. The truth is that the state of Abia today is pathetic and very troubling to any critical mind. Development wise, the Abia situation can be rightly described as the worst case in the whole of the old Eastern Region, it is such that some of our neighbors we often derided as backward people, are now the leading states. I will not want to embarrass ourselves by mentioning names. Our situation has become so terrible such that the human capital that should have been the greatest asset has been bastardized and disoriented to a point that what the people do is to cheer mediocrity and poor governance. Nothing can be more terrible than this kind of phenomenon. This is why the victory of Okezie Ikpeazu, a young and well educated man at the Supreme Court offers Abia State one of the biggest opportunities to recreate the vision and to chart new approaches to the development of God’s own state. I congratulate my great in-law, Dr. Ikpeazu on his victory but make no hesitation in telling him that he, Uche Ogah, the people, the state, nation and democracy are all winners. Contrary to the position of some of the governor’s supporters, Ogah is not a villain; he exercised his constitutionally guaranteed right and we should be grateful he opted to do so in a non-violent manner. It is true the option polarized the state, it was not because Ogah went to court, it is rather because those who were supposed to dispense justice, took so much time to do so.
If I had my way all election litigations should end before those who won are sworn into offices; this way we protect the health of the larger society and prevent the possible use of public fund for private matters. Ikpeazu’s victory has enhanced stability and reinforced sense of equity and belongingness. The way we operate zoning or rotation may not be the ideal, yet it is a necessity for any plural society. Obama, the man who became America’s first Black President, did not happen by chance; orchestrators of that system worked it out so that they could give relevance to the American ideal that all men are equal, race, creed or religion notwithstanding. The only good thing in theirs is creatively merging merit and rotation and that is what is lacking in our own case. Here we select and impose often times by one man or few men acting as a group. The end of the court case leaves Governor Ikpeazu with opportunities to create new vistas. Ikpeazu is a good man but before now he appeared a victim of misplaced aggression and his case was not helped by his jerky administrative steps and general policy direction, which could be rightly attributable to constrains of having ridden on somebody else’s wings to power. Such could well have been the case but now that the major encumbrance has been removed, Ikpeazu has been stripped of all grounds of excuses. If he excels or fails, he alone shares the benefits or the liabilities. Most sitting governors look forward to a second term, Ikpeazu’s case may not be different, and if this would materialize, Ikpeazu must know the ball is on the penalty spot, he either scores the vital goals or stand to regret. He has enough time to win overwhelming goodwill to himself.
The journey to the new beginning should start with the victory. The governor and his supporters have been ecstatic, this should be expected; Ikpeazu has asked his opponents to come and join him, excellent posturing but the problem has been in approbating and reprobating. It is a big contradiction to act comely and at the same time sounding derogatory; it is out of place for the governor to be extending an olive branch and at the same time calling them devils. The victory should inspire the governor to transcend the old order. He must move out of his cocoon and go out to search for real friendship and peace. Abia would erupt in great ecstasy if for instance they wake up to see pictures and video clips showing that the governor has taken the initiative to visit such political heavyweights as Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, Dr. Alex Otti and Dr. Uche Ogah just to mention a few. When I was in government as commissioner and later secretary to the government, Kalu as governor would direct the head of protocol to compile names of those not in line with the administration and one after another, invitations would be extended to them to share moments with the state chief executive; sometimes it could be dinner sessions during which crooked paths were straightened. I recommend such moves for the governor. If the governor must succeed, he must discard tokenism, the strategy of telling lies, selling deceptions and holing up one project and shouting to high heavens about big achievements. Non-serious issues like payment of salaries and pensions as well as proper sanitation management ought not to be the big embarrassment they have become. Attention must be given to even little issues. No government can be popular when the creativity of its officials, ministries and departments begin and end with revalidation of activities already executed by the immediate past administration. This is simply draconian; one can go on and on. Ikpeazu would have to expand the scope of advice available to him and should be ready for the truth, which is the only way he can meet expectations. I want to believe Ikpeazu would surprise the people, nevertheless he requires the support of everybody.