few days ago I came across a comment by a friend and old classmate of mine who as I did lived and attended both primary and secondary schools in Aba and who incidentally still lives in that neglected City. In that comment, he narrated his disillusion and frustration traveling back from Akwa Ibom state after a brief visit only to be once again confronted by the grim reality of what is Aba today. A ghetto like City with dilapidated, pot hole and flooded gullies that pass as roads, the garbage-strewn side -walks and the pollution and stench pervading the air etc. At the end of his comment, he used the phase, "Cry My Beloved Abia", a phrase that I have shamelessly appropriated without his consent as the title of this essay. As a close childhood friend, I know he wouldn't mind.
I and many others have heaped scorn or blame on the Abia Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu for the neglect of Aba, but the truth of the matter is that the neglect did not start with him but has been exacerbated by him. The difference and point to be noted here is that this Governor was expected as a son of the soil of Ngwa extraction to be responsive and sympathetic to the plight of the citizens of that City. It has however turned out that it was a trust misplaced. His half-hearted attempt to fix a few roads in Aba was merely a confidence game that was meant to present himself as somewhat serious about rehabilitating the City. With the abandoned road construction projects and idle construction equipment's at various construction sites, it has become evident that this Governor did not have any serious plans to tackle the decay in environmental decay in Aba, nor did he give any considerable thought to the cost and financing of his road construction efforts. The result is a failure of leadership that has now been manifested in all aspects of his administration and governance of the state. An administration whose ineptitude is tempered by his incompetence and a Governor whose distracting illusions have worsened the state's economy and the living standards of the people.
In the two years I've followed the job performance of Dr okezie, I've reached the conclusion that in that empty section of his brain which should be occupied by knowledge, hence during the campaign his supporters were always quick to remind us that he has a Ph.D. he has exhibited during his period in office a total ignorance of the attributes and requisites of effective governance. His administration started with enough grandiosity and illusions that should have alerted us of the failures and governmental incompetence to come. But as usual with our brand of politics, those warnings signs were ignored by a section of the voting public who were more enamored by one of the sons being Governor.
If we look back at Dr. Ikpeazu's 2015 Governorship campaign, it was one that was packed with such petulance, arrogance and policy emptiness enough to derail the campaign of any politician in a civilized or developed democracy. His administration expectedly has turned out to be more of a freak show, better still a circus. The on-going court saga challenging his election has necessitated his marinating in self-pity and luxuriating in self- love as recently exhibited in the Abuja made in Aba trade show in which he attempted to take credit for the hard work and ingenuity of citizens he had not lifted a finger to help in any way. So far his Governorship has become a case study in failure and orchestrated chaos. With his continued fight to stay in office, the state he claims he cares about ends at the tip of his nose, just like the narcissist he is. With his administration, every new revelation overrides an old one as if it were a new file on a hard drive that has reached its storage capacity. So far this Governor has not only broken all the rules of effective governance and political conduct, he has simply and completely destroyed them. In so doing a huge chunk of the state's financial resources have been spent on his on-going Court cases which has now reached the Supreme Court and for this Governor to have done so just to retain his job while failing in his obligation to pay civil servants and pensioners in his state is beyond the bounds of conventional morality.
Close to two years of being in office his administration has been a total disaster with nothing to show for. Everything and every institution in the state is in a state of decline and ultimate failure. The schools are crumbling, hospitals and healthcare services, in particular, is non-existent. The judiciary has been severely compromised and rendered irrelevant. The House of Assembly is filled with discredited members who have no idea or appreciation of what their duties and responsibilities are except to collect monetary gratifications from the Governor and do his bidding. Then there is the state-owned radio station (BCA) which as was their practice in the past have become the Governor's most prominent propaganda machine and praise singer. Its adeptness in spinning lies and alternative facts has become a thing of legend so much so that they have exacerbated the trust spiral between the Government and the state's citizenry. There is a saying that "Government moves at the speed of trust". The reality, however, is that the Ikpeazu administration has destroyed this trust. No wonder his administration have moved at snail speed to nowhere. In an essay I wrote sometime in 2015 during the governorship elections, in which I was critical of the Governor and those who were supporting him, I was labeled an "Ngwa hater". Today, like the rest of the state I hear their groans, concerns, complaints and disappointments with the Governor's non- performance and I sympathize with their regret and disillusionment. I also understand that most of them voted for him out of ethnic pride and loyalty. But what I don't understand is their continued support for him and their willingness to overlook his failure as Governor not to mention his character flaw as a tax dodger.
There is no doubt we are now living in the age of alternative reality where the act of propaganda has become the effective vehicle of governance. Where repeating a lie over and over again has become an accepted norm. The Russian dissident former Chess Master, Gary Kasparov, once said, "the point of modern propaganda isn't only to misinform or push an agenda. it is rather to exhaust your critical thinking and to annihilate truth". This Governor and his administration with the aid of the state media in their propaganda tactics have exhausted the critical thinking and reasoning capacities of not only his Ngwa brethren but the Abia people to the point of acceptance and inability to fight back. But that must not be. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will bring them Justice, but if it doesn't they must be ready to stop the carnage wrecked on the state by the PDP, this Governor and his predecessors by retaking their state in 2019. They are the change they need and only they can bring it about. Neither Alex Otti nor any other politician can do it for them for this nightmare to come to an end. They must remember that "action" is not a choice but also an obligation they must seize come 2019.
Nnanna Ijomah is a New York City based Political Science lecturer.