FEATURE ARTICLE

Nnanna IjomahThursday, November 23, 2017
[email protected]
New York, New York, USA

THE ATROCIOUS CASE OF AN ABIA STATE GOVERNOR

n the next couple of months, it will be 3 years since Dr Okezie Ikpeazu assumed office as Abia State Governor. In those two plus years we've regrettably watched the continued deterioration of the state in all facets of human, social, political and economic development. Again, during this time period we've witnessed with horror and disbelief the worst governance performance any society or people could ever imagine in any modern democracy. For a Government House that needed a thorough house cleaning and disinfecting by an in-coming administration, albeit from the same party what we have seen has been a mud bath, so much so that instead of the expected house cleaning, they've instead turned the place into an overflowing garbage dump. Unfortunately as his 3 year anniversary approaches, it has become apparent there will be no notable accomplishments to celebrate or toast to and even if he does manufacture some, one thing the Governor cannot do, will be to alter the people's perception of time and reality hence that reality is that his administration has been a colossal failure of unprecedented magnitude and dimension.

That reality includes also the fact that in Abia state today every institution of government under the Ikpeazu administration has failed the Abia people and that's a sobering thought. Right at this moment in the state, there is an on-going teachers strike and school closures due to months of non-payment of teacher's salaries. There is also the complicity of his administration with the PDP dishonorables in the State Assembly in their recent suspension of the state Chief Justice, a move that constitutes not only an assault on the principle of Separation of Powers but also the craziness of a group of people who keep stepping hard on their acceleration pedal and blowing through the stop signs of our nascent democracy. How can we forget the endemic and forever unending circle of the non -payment of worker's salaries? In three years, there is no new industry this Governor can claim credit for. Neither has he rehabilitated any of the old ones. The Golden Guinea brewery, the Enyimba hotel in Aba, to name those two are still what they are, just relics.

For a state Government that is finding it difficult to pay worker's salaries, it is incomprehensible and mind boggling that this Governor appointed 26 new commissioners while his administration recently tried to sell job application forms, a thousand naira each for non -existent jobs until they were exposed and they had to fake ignorance of the whole fraudulent exercise. Even the Artisan training program for which this administration have been crowing about with the 30 shoe artisans sent to china has been revealed to be a fraud in the sense that many of the beneficiaries were not even professional shoe makers but political lackeys selected by top PDP politicians. A good example being one Sunday Nwankwo from Arochukwu who has been revealed to be a staff of the Arochukwu Local Government Council with no knowledge or experience on how to apply glue on a shoe. Yet as foolish and stupid as the Governors media sycophants are they went ahead to use this guy in a propaganda video in their zeal to embarrass Dr Alex Otti, whose ancestral home is Arochukwu. With their non -subtle mention of people who choose to fly helicopters instead of spending money on artisan training, it is rather unfortunate that these media amateurs chose to blame private citizens for the lack of a Government entrepreneurial and artisan training policy. Unfortunately for them, the entire fake video has boomeranged in the sense that the Abia people have come to discover that the entire China trip was just a farce and a publicity stunt. Now that the real shoe makers on that trip are on their way back to the country as we've been informed, we wait to see what preparations the Government has made for them in the form of an enabling environment, financial incentives, loans, machineries, quality control and export assistance for them to showcase their newly acquired shoe making skills. The failures of this Governor and his administration are too many to mention here due to time and space but be that as it may, the truth is that today in Abia state, the people live in very perilous times where economic and social turmoil are upending their traditions and values, with many trying to understand and cope with life changes and its implications to both their standards of living and their worth as human beings.

Dr Ikpeazu's Governorship universe in my opinion is a place of dread not hope and because we tend to grade this Governor on a curve, the unthinkable has now become commonplace. His, is an administration of erratic disruptions. A Governor that is captive to his benefactor and his son. A man whose domestic policy watchword is "Flag-off". Absent of any sustainable policy initiative, he goes around flagging off projects he has no financial means of completing. With the 2019 election approaching, there is no doubt there will be more flag-off ceremonies and photo sessions not to mention his media sycophants and the state controlled BCA radio station abusing the truth and so doing jeopardizing even the fundamental assumptions of what is "truth". We also expect to see more Facebook pictures of newly commenced road construction projects with such captions as "Ikpeazu Is Working". Many of which will be abandoned soon after the elections. For this Governor, the rejection of facts, even the notion of decency, justice and humanity has become the hallmarks of his administration. An administration fuelled and sustained by a litany of lies, myths and fake photo-ups designed to portray his humanity as reflected in pictures of him riding a subway train standing abroad with the caption, "The Common Man" or riding a bicycle through the streets of Umuahia. For some of us who have been critical of this administration, you begin to wonder after a while whether what you are watching is a tragedy or a farce.

As the end of his administration zooms forward at a warped speed to an inglorious end, it operates in warp exposure. The reality is that after two plus years in office, this Governor stands before us naked, but he stood naked before us with no experience, vision, expertise or imagination when T.A Orji picked him from obscurity as his heir apparent and all through the 2015 campaign, but many chose not to see it. However as he prepares to approach the departure hall with his bags packed his nakedness has become more apparent for all to see. We can now say with conviction after 32 months in office that this Emperor has no clothes. That this Emperor has no camouflage either, at least none that is consistent and effective and that despite his trafficking in fantasy, lies, fabrications, fake videos and false claims of accomplishments, flashing before our eyes are the chilling reality of his failed reign as Governor.

Many have attacked me for being too critical of this Governor. Yes, I have but it has not been out of malice or hate because I don't believe you can truly hate a man or woman you've not actually met. You can be critical of his actions and still not hate him as an individual. So those who see my criticisms of his administrations as hate speech are far from being honest to themselves. I personally don't think Dr Ikpeazu as an individual is evil but in my opinion some of his policies or lack thereof is a failure of competence, ability and leadership. To me, he is a man trapped in an indecent dynamic and indebtedness to his mentor and his ethnic community. The truth is that I write to help people think for themselves and not influenced by lies and disinformation fed to them by state propaganda machineries devoid of independence of thought, truth or fairness. I believe an informed voter is capable of making better voting choices than his or her low information or uniformed counterpart and for those reasons I will continue express my views with curiosity, courage, empathy and fidelity to the truth. Some may not like it, but the reality is that for Abia State to progress changes need to be made to our governance and leadership choices. Like any one of my admirers and critics, I have my biases and preferences just as I had made bold to confess that my preferred candidate is Dr Alex Otti, a choice for which I owe no one an apology. Having said that, the truth still remains the truth and we have to stop living in denial that Okezie was a wrong choice.

Someone recently asked me if there is any grand psychiatric theory to explain the incessant lies and misinformation by this administration, its sycophants, not to mention those who continue to support this Government and the PDP as a Party after more than 18 years of misrule and I replied in the negative, because in my opinion, that will be an insult to those who suffer from mental illness. The truth however, is that I am disappointed by some in Abia, especially the elite, PDP Party faithful's and ethnic loyalists who hear no evil and see no evil. People, whose sense of justice, decency and accountability have been sacrificed on the altar of ethnic loyalty and financial gratification. People, who resist voting for a Governorship aspirant because he is not considered one of them, just because of his ancestry despite the fact that the said candidate was born and raised in their midst and in their community. People, who are willing to sell their conscience and decency for a pot of Gold and in our case sums of Naira. People who are now concerned with today's financial gratifications than their future welfare and that of their children.

As the 2019 Governorship elections approaches, I am afraid that there will once again be a recklessness in our voting choices that does not border only on ignorance but also stupidity. The late Bobby Kennedy, a Democratic Party Presidential aspirant in the United States before he was untimely assassinated, once said, after listing the myriad of problems facing the Country, "We need to have the imagination to solve these problems". Imagination is what we've lacked in more than 18 years of PDP rule in Abia State and it has become more evident during the last two plus years of this administration. It is also the reason why the Abia people must have the moral courage andl imperative to choose a new Governor come 2019 with the vision, ability and imagination to solve the myriad of problems facing the state. The PDP has become the "bonfire of the insanities". Nothing is going to change with another 4 years of PDP rule. Nothing is going to change with another 4 years of Okezie Ikpeazu and a PDP dominated House of Assembly. Insanity as it is said is the act of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. This Governor has already piled on more debt through borrowing than can be repaid without unimaginable consequences to the state's financial health. Like his two predecessors, he has done a great deal of damage to our sense of dignity and well -being as Abians.

Sometimes when I look back at history and the accomplishments of people like the late Dr Michael Okpara, I wonder, when the essence of good leadership lost its value? I also ask myself, when did we as a people stop expecting more from our leaders and start accepting less? After 32 months in office, there is no denying that the paint and varnish of this administration has been completely stripped away and needs to be thrown away or consigned to the waste basket where it belongs. It is time for a new leadership. A new leadership with imagination, experience and ability. The type Dr Alex Otti can bring. Some people buy what they need, others buy what they want. Come 2019, the Abia electorate need to buy a new leadership with their votes. Despite all the present sufferings and deprivations, they must look beyond the horizon with faith and optimism for the glorious future an APGA administration can bring them. History informs us that transformational leaderships have always occurred in times when, "the man and the moment intercepts ". Such a moment and time will intercept come the 2019 elections and the Abia people must be brave and wise to seize that moment and elect Dr Alex Otti and the APGA party so as to actualize their manifest destiny. They must remember that if they lay down as a lamb, they will continue to stay down. 2019 must be a year to stand up and fight back.

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