BY SONNY IROCHE
The cliche that a people gets the leadership that they deserve, sometimes holds true and at times not so true. But often, as in the case of the enthronement of kleptocracy and kakistocracy in Abia State from the advent of democratic rule in Nigeria from 1999, is perhaps a combination of both outcomes.
While it is true that in the face of the law, an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction. However, any discerning mind can read in between the lines, extrapolate and give a fair judgement on the long outstanding cases against two former Governors of Abia State, namely Orji Uzor Kalu and a serving Senator Theodore Orji. While Orji Kalu was found guilty and currently serving a 12- year jail term, the other Orji, his sons and other family members are currently under investigation by the EFCC and most likely going to end up like his predecessor in office and whom he served as Chief of Staff.
If the reports in the media are true, about the unprecedented large scale stealing, misappropriation, and diversion of public funds to private accounts ( to the tune of over N500 Billion) of those purportedly elected to superintendent the affairs of the State, then little wonder why Abia State competes for the worst governed State and perhaps one of the least developed and poverty stricken States in the country.
Although the topical case in focus today is that of Abia State, similar cases of stealing and unprecedented corruption pervade the entire gamut of most of our public and private institutions.
In the face of the persistent and unrelenting financial hemorrhage that the State has suffered since the administrations of Orji Kalu and Theodore Orji, and probably still ongoing, Aba, hitherto, one of the centers of booming economic and commercial activities in the country, is now a shadow of its past. Giving resourceful leadership in the State, Aba could have been competing with Lagos State today or came a close second in term of GDP and internally generated revenue.
The right questions that some may ask is : Didn’t anyone see it happening or didn’t anyone advised against these massive stealing and maladministration?
Sometime in 2009, I personally sent messages to the then Governor Theodore Orji and other Abians that I could reach, calling their attention and warning of bad governance and the inherent dangers of his maladministration and advising on what and how he could do better. What did the Governor do in reaction to my good intentions? The state administration took out a one page paid advertisement in the Sun Newspaper of November 2009, signed by his then Press Secretary, barraging my person with all kinds of lies and never addressed the issues that I raised. That however, is not the subject for discussion now, perhaps for another day.
Recall also that Abia State was only a little part of what constituted the old Eastern Region which was Governed in the 1960s by Dr M.I Okpara. During that administration, the Region was reported as one of the fastest growing economies in West Africa. Dr Okpara was able to build the Ulonna Farm Settlements, Golden Guinea breweries, Hotel Presidential, Modern Ceramics, Obudu Cattle Ranch and other thriving industries in the region. Those were the days of committed leaders and not of thieves and morally bankrupt politicians. Can any of the Orji name sake Governors that have jointly governed Abia State for a total of 16 years point to any industrial and/or economic institution established by them, that has created employment and value addition to Ndi Abia and Ndigbo? Yet we are wont and often times scream marginalization by the federal government. Yes, there are clear cases of neglect and marginalization of several parts of the country, especially the Southeast States. But one question that we should ask, is, what have our elected Governors done with the billions of dollars that have been allocated to the States for development? With the revelation of the billions of dollars found in various accounts of the Orjis, we now know who are real detractors are and those marginalizing their own people.
Now, is there any lesson to learn from either voting and/or rigging of elections by kleptomaniac (those who can’t help themselves from stealing) and Kakistocrats (the worst people in the society in position of leadership)?
Of course there is a great lesson to be learned here. There are many Orjis occupying government houses and other positions of public trust in our society. The EFCC should be encouraged and supported to spread its drag net extensively, without bias or selective prosecution, while not sparing sacred cows. All must be equal and treated as such in the face of the law.
Going forward, as a people, Ndigbo and indeed, Nigerians should take their destinies in their hands, by identifying wolves in sheep’s clothing, separating gold from the dross and voting and protecting their votes from wicked politicians.
We cannot all claim that we do not know some of these characters, whose antecedents had been known for a long time, but due to greed, short term financial inducements, vested and personal interest, we shut out credible leaders from governance particularly in the Southeast. And we have credible and talented leaders in the ilk of Okpara, Akanu Ibiam, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Sam Mbakwe in abundance in the Southeast and every State in the country.
• Now let me conclude in Pidgin in order to reach the masses at the grassroots
Nigerians, 2023 is fast approaching and dey for corner. Abeg make una shine una eyes. Make una no vote thief people again. Na bad Governors and politicians make una and una pikin dem no get jobs, Na dem make bad things dey happen for we country like, armed robbery, kidnapping, unemployment, prostitution, owing workers salaries, no pay for pensioners, no hospitals, bad roads, no transportation, no food, 419, yahoo yahoo etc.
Make we help ourselves, then God go help us too.