Abia State and its Mediocre Governors
Since the advent of democracy in 1999, Abia State my home state has been very unfortunate with leadership at all levels. It is either cursed with governors that leave the state worse than they met it while enriching themselves and turning to tin gods for their band of praise singers or a coterie of Abuja politicians, members of house of representatives and Senators that have minimal impact on the lives of the indigenes of the state. I have been very vocal about the federal government but have neglected my state, Abia, for no justifiable reasons. Dating back to the first governor of Abia State, when I was a student in a federal university on the outskirts of the state capital, we had a governor that was a business man who enriched himself and even started an airline after he became a governor. A man who built himself a fortress, a flamboyant estate, Camp Naya which was able to host Confederation of African Football (CAF) conference comprising of hundreds of delegates in his estate. They pillaged and raped the Abia State treasury. We had the mother of the governor then as the god mother of Abia State. We had tales of politicians seeking appointments going to her mansion in Aba to peel Melon (Egusi) seed to get her blessings. Such was the deplorable state which Chief Orji Uzor Kalu (OUK) ran and left the state in a pariah status. His adopted son, Chief Theodore Orji took over the mantle of leadership, Ochendo as we all know became worse than OUK, and you only need to visit Umuahia to understand the resentment against the former governor who turned Abia State to his personal estate, amassing wealth, buying hotels and properties and streets. However, these governors have succeeded in pillaging the state because of established political patronage in which they carefully distribute appointments to the important political personalities in each LGA such that they maintain control and garner loyalty.
However, the Abia State politics curse has always been the presence of a rift between the incumbent and the immediate past governor as a result of the present governor trying to wriggle free of the former governor who is always the godfather. However, this independence has not helped matters. These governors continue their mediocre developments efforts on mainly building of roads and paying of salaries. My community as I speak doesn’t have a functional electrification system. There is no power supply from the national grid. Our representatives since 1999 have been the most useless in attracting development to my senatorial district and placing people from my community in federal government appointments as per federal character. They have been moribund like the governors and have together with the state government undermined development. I see no reason why every part of my local government in this decade should not be connected to the national grid. The most unfortunate part of this development is that the present governor might turn out worse than the last as we have gone two years without viable initiatives to develop Abia State. While other states are planning Airport city through PPP, Abia State that can’t boost of any significant infrastructure such as the type of stadium Akpabio built or the airport/airport city project Willie Obiano has embarked on, is still basking in the euphoria of roads constructed in Aba. Abia State needs an airport between Aba and Umuahia to boost business and attract Investors to the Umuahia-Aba axis.
To assess the mid-term performance of Gov Okezie Ikpeazu, I decided to look up his midterm report based on assessments I can find on Nigerian media. ThisDay newspaper used four indicators to grade two years performances of governors from least to most desirable scale: Non-starter, go back to drawing board; Work in progress, no clear results; Good vision slow start and Clear vision, promising start. It reported that Abia State governor was bogged down by legal impediments which he later won at the Supreme Court and has made progress in certain areas like infrastructure which I stand to fault. It awarded the overall score of “Work in progress, no clear results” to the governor’s two years in power. Despite the efforts targeted at revitalizing and boosting shoe and garment SME in Aba and attraction of $1.5billion Chinese investments in the building of an industrial city, Abia state should stop taking the last position when it comes to development in the South East. An airport, standard stadium where Enyimba the most successful club in Nigeria in intercontinental football in Africa can play, investment in electrification projects to generate power for the state to boost industry and provision of real estate are areas that a visionary governor should harness.
As I stated earlier, the presence of sycophants that sing the praises of the governor would make an onlooker and outsider think that giant strides are being achieved, I often visit Umuahia and it has remained a struggling town and state capital, no presence of modern development to show like you see in other places around the country. It’s quite unfortunate for Abia state that this present government is almost going the way of the past two governors since 1999 and there seem to be no hope in sight. God help God’s own state.