t is only natural that as the 2015 election draws nearer, that I would return to Abia state, where four year ago, I raised alarm about the extent of corruption, criminal leadership, greed, impunity, neglect of Aba and abuse of power by the past and present governments. I had complained because I was informed that the wife of T A Orji was demanding 200,000 thousand Naira from people, who were looking for work at Aba polytechnic and someone related to me had paid and asking me to help. During the term of Orji Uzor Kalu, the mother was demanding 50,000 from candidates seeking admission into the school of nursing I was told. What is happening in Abia state is not democracy but the worst form of abuse, and misuse of power to serve the worst of human motives.
When I raised the alarm, her money was returned by the go-between and she did not get the job. Since then, T A Orji has continued his misrule, correctly characterised in Igbo as 'Chichi nchigbu' 'earth scotching rule' where the sole aim is to steal as much as possible from the treasury and impose his will on all no matter what the law says. In the process, every thing, which opposes his excesses, abuse of power and misrule is attacked and those who he cannot destroy, he must starve, as he starved Aba of development and investment. Before I left Aba in 1996, I had refused to pay a bribe of 45,000 demanded by the same system to offer my wife a teaching job. When it was turn to be interviewed, she was told the interview had ended. Abia state is as corrupt as corruption will ever be and the government as bad as any evil government can be.
I often wonder what is it about power that turns some Nigerians into monsters, once they gain it? Why do many Nigerian politicians see power as something to be abused and used to serve primitive instincts, instead of opportunity to make bad good, good better and change the society to make the rich and powerful fear the weak and poor because of the law.
No state with honest and sincere leadership, which has sanctified conscience, would leave a town like Aba the way T A Orji has and command any iota of respect from the people. Aba, the famous Enyinmba City is a decaying and dying town because of years of neglect and misrule by corrupt and immoral leadership and the people who should speak out keep silent.
There are no good roads, or running water in Aba. Refuse are not collected and allowed to pile on the road posing a health risk,acquisitive crimes are common. Civil and public servants are not paid for months. The majority of the people are unable to afford the exorbitant medical fees demanded by private medical practitioners and the only general hospital is a shadow of itself and has been overgrown by weed. Nothing, which the government is responsible for works in Aba and this is the real tragedy. Aba is a classical example of what happens, when a government fails the people it is elected to make life better. The state of Aba should give serious concern to any honest human being with conscience. No town should be allow to decay to such an extent in a time of peace, understand a democratic government.
Abia state is inhabited by one of the most peace loving and innovative people. A proud and industrious people, who love to do things for themselves. Yet, time and time again, the criminal elements succeed in gaining power and wrecking havoc on all. This is because, the so called intelligent and honest people prefer to pursue their selfish interests , and leave politics, for criminals, psychopaths and school drop outs, who have no understanding of the meaning of leadership, nation building and accountability. Abia state must address this singular problem to have a future.
When the government of Shehu Shagari refused to recapitalise the old Imo state to enable it engage in some post war reconstruction and infrastructure development, governor Sam Mbakwe asked the state to contribute money to build the Owerri Airport. Aba contributed most. He used the money to build the airport. He did not use the money to build private mansions, hospital, university or launder the money in Dubai, London or New York as the present crop of politicians are doing.
Today, I cannot think of any current political leader in Abia state, or in the Igbo region, who would use state fund for what it is earmarked for. There is no Current Igbo politician who is ready to commit to transparency, an anti- corruption agenda and promise that he would live on his official enumeration and not steal a kobo from the treasury. If there is any such Igbo leader let him say so.
Instead, what we have in Abia state is a government, which shares state money amongst some selected people who it believes have influence and misappropriated the rest for personal benefits. A government that deliberately starves the state of development and allow a town to decay because the people protested about misrule and corruption.
Igbos remain the only people in Nigeria, who built an airport from internally generated fund. I do not know, if the Nigerian Airport Authority compensated the state, when it took it over. Even then, retrogressive federal government polices has limited the development of the airport. Sadly the current Igbo leaders have shown no evidence that they are minded to provide the honest, visionary and sensitive leadership the people needs.
Today, there is no real development in Abia state, particularly, in Aba. The government has not made any social investment in the town in the last 16 years. Every existing infrastructure has decayed. Neither the government nor investors are investing in the state because of lack infrastructure and security. There is very high prevalence of poverty, unemployment and acquisitive crimes. Kidnapping remains a serious problem and symptom of the extent of deprivation, lack of hope, and despondency in the state.
A serious, sincere and honest government would prioritise social investment in form of job creation, support for the unemployed and building road infrastructure to facilitate and stimulate economic recovery and development. In 8 years, T A Orji, has done nothing to improve Aba roads and Aba roads are now sone of the worst in the world. It compares with roads in the parts of Congo and South Sudan, which has never seen development, instead, he concentrated in corruptly enriching himself by building a personal empire and running the state the way Robert Mugabe runs Zimbabue.
In the midst of such serious problems,instead thinking of ways to make life better for the people, the members of the house of Assembly are more interested in approving life pension for those who have stolen the state dry and and abuse their power to stall its development. There is no attempt by either the state or National Assemblies to draw attention to sorry state of Abia state and the risk it poses to the whole country. What we have in Abia state is a government that is oblivious of its responsibility to the people whose interest they are elected to protect.
Therefore, I believe that Abia state needs a Marshal plan to prevent it becoming a centre for Biko Hapum in the no distant future. It is this kind of neglect and dereliction that currently exists in Abia state that breeds extremists and gives rise to nationalistic political parties, which hardens peoples' attitude towards independence.
At the moment, MASSOB and APGA seems to be exploiting this sentiment and if it is not checked, will result in more people looking towards independence, instead of good government for their salvation. Without a kind of Marshal plan for Abia state, something more sinister than kidnapping fashioned along the line of Boko Haram may emerge. No people can endure the kind of abuse and neglect and level of deprivation currently endured in Abia state and Aba in particular, without being radicalised.
Abia state will become worse, unless there federal government starts to rebuild the Enugu, Aba ,Port Harcourt Express way, Aba Ikotekpene road, Aba Owerri road to reconnect the. Region to other parts of Nigeria and state government begins to create jobs and opportunities by attracting investments and making aggressive social investments in housing, schools and hospitals. This is the minimum that is required to stop the descent of Abia state into anarchy. Soon it will be too late.
Successive governors of Abia state have proved time and time again, to be too corrupt to provide the leadership the state deserves and it would be wrong for the federal government to turn a blind eye, while Aba is destroyed by neglect because of the corruption of the state government. 2015 is around the corner, the people may better look for an honest man who is prepared to lead by example and do not see politics as easy route to riches. Very unfortunately, With cost of nomination forms, such a candidate may be very difficult to emerge. Maybe the people can start by looking for candidates who would adopt zero tolerance attitude to political corruption and believe in accountability and transparency in government. It may be useful to task all the governorship candidate to commit to these basic standards as a beginning.