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The change that Abia State needs

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map-abiaIT is disconsolate that an enormously endowed state such as Abia has been in the throes of under-development and infrastructure deficit since inception of the current democratic dispensation, under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or its variant.

The situation became more rueful in the last eight years under Chief Theodore Ahamefule Orji, a godson who kicked off the ladder through which he rose, and turned the state into a fiefdom. Evaluating the state of affairs in Abia, Sir Chikwe Udensi of the Peoples Progressive Alliance (PPA) – the platform that enthroned the Ochendo in 2007 while in detention – riposted:

“All over the world, government exists and works for the betterment of its people, except in Abia State where the government has become the problem of the people.

I am marvelled that there is no presence of government in Abia, especially in Aba, and the governor is busy receiving awards from irresponsible organisations and individuals.” However, the March 28 presidential and National Assembly polls have given hope that whenever the people desire a change, they get it.

For example, the emergence of Owelle Rochas Okorocha as Imo Governor in 2011, and the results of the March 28 presidential poll have confirmed that when the polity is aggrieved over non-performance of a sitting government, the fraudulent power of incumbency loses its potency.

This brings us to the released results of the National Assembly polls in Abia. Observers are alarmed that results declared by the State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof Celinah Okoh, did not reflect the wishes of the people.

We encourage the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), which is widely believed to have won the election, to continue pressing for justice. On the outcome of the elections, Chief Anyim Nyerere, gubernatorial aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC), reportedly expressed shock at the conduct of the polls, even as he commended the peaceful comportment of the people.

He said: “The poll was characterised by fraud, reckless manipulation and outright show of shame by INEC in conspiring with Abia State Government.” On his part, Dr Alex Otti, the APGA hopeful, according to Daily Sun of March 2, said: “When the elections started – Senate and House of Representatives – APGA was leading in most of the units where votes were counted.

But now, a whole lot of malpractices have been reported: in most of the polling booths, credible results did not come out. The report added that youths from Umuahia North Local Government and Ukwa staged peaceful demonstrations to protest the widespread anomalies, including, the use of police to intimidate, harass and arrest voters, and kidnapping of other party agents.”   Otti condemned the idea of housing INEC officers in local government headquarters, as most of the transition council chairmen conspired with security forces – whether real or fake – to intimidate agents of other parties and stop them from gaining access to collation centres.

He said that they muscled INEC officials into changing the results that they were supposed to be collating. This is sad, because it runs counter to the promise made by Abia State Police Commissioner, Mr Habila Joshua.

In The Guardian of April 3, I recalled the new CP’s assurance of providing security and a level-playing ground to all the political parties. Given the alleged regrettable complicity of both INEC officials and the Police during the March 28 polls in Abia, CP Joshua and the REC, Prof Okoh, should note that they were posted there to serve the people – not the government – of Abia.

This reminder is necessary given the significance of the Apil 11 governorship election. From the forgoing, it is clear that Abia needs a paradigm shift: A total rejection of the ruling party, political leadership and the social perception that have combined to enslave the people. Perhaps, this is better understood in the words of Steven Covey. He said: “The word paradigm is Greek, originally, a scientific term, and is more commonly used today to mean a model, theory, perception, or a frame of reference.

It’s the way we see the world – not in terms of our visual sense of sight, but in terms of perceiving, understanding and interpreting.” After 16 years of stagnation, emasculation, unfulfilled promises and failed hopes, Abians are now wiser: They would no longer be fooled by selfish and self-serving leaders.

Having been presented with a choice in political personalities and party programmes, they have identified a candidate whose pedigree, credibility rating and vision tally with the people’s yearnings and expectations.

Naturally, there is a mutual attraction, a symbiosis of intents that instantly galvanised the polity and the upcoming leader, Abians are now beginning to see governance from a different perspective: proactive, productive and service-oriented engagement.

And it is a fact of life that the way we see and interpret unfolding events affects how we react. That explains why the political drumbeat has changed.

They have realised that it was APGA, under Peter Obi, that emancipated Anambra State in 2006, just as no significant development took place in Imo till 2011 when the same APGA raised Owelle Rochas Okorocha.

Perhaps that explains why analysts are unanimous in their reading of the Abia political barometer – in both March 28 and Saturday’s polls – that APGA holds the ace.

This equally agrees with the words of Albert Einstein, that: “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were when we created them.” Abia is endowed with vast arable land suitable for agriculture; boasts of various mineral resources, including oil and gas which qualify Abia as an oil-producing state.

Its unexploited tourist attractions include an unlisted forest in Ohafia that could serve as game reserve, and the Akwete traditional weaving now moribund whereas its counterparts in Kogi State, the South-West and Ghana’s Kente are currently enjoying global acceptance.

Besides the present, Abia has an enviable past from which it could draw inspiration: Produced first Igbo university graduate; first Nigerian to become a Dean at Oxford University/first Vice-chancellor, University of Lagos; two Brettonwood economists and the seventh governor of Central Bank of Nigeria.

This is our history. It is our heritage. Some of them are still alive and are ready to provide necessary elderly advice, if consulted.

Encompassed with such a cloud of inspiring evidence, Abians no longer need politicians who use the people as a stepping stone to wealth; but a servant-leader, a visionary who is prepared and willing to use the people as a cornerstone to rebuild and restore the state. •Nwafo is consulting Editor to News Express online/Business Express magazine (chi_dafo@yahoo.com)


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