Abia State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Eze Chikamnayo, spoke with Charles Ajunwa on the state of the state. Excerpts:
Recently, Governor Theodore Orji said Abia was in the process of rebuilding. How much of the process as he covered yet?
The truth is that His Excellency, Sir T.A. Orji, is the father and founder of new Abia State. He is now consolidating on the fresh foundations he started laying some two, three years ago. 2013 is our year of consolidation and the way to consolidate in most cases is to work more, to do more and to re-enforce achievements that have already been made. You consolidate when you do not rest in your oars, you consolidate when you try to open up new horizons, you consolidate when you surpass your own achievements and surpass the expectations of even your worst critics in terms of positive impacts in developments.
The truth and nothing but the truth is that the experience of Abia State between 1999 to 2007, and a little between 2007 and 2010 when the godfather still had his tentacles in the polity was worse than what Ugadans suffered under Idi Amin. It was a more insidious but very corrosive experience but for the super natural intervention of God, Abia State today would have been an effective monarchy masquerading as a democracy. In our lexicon here in Abia today, we now have a term that effectively substitutes meritocracy.
Meritocracy ought to be the norm in a democratic setting, but instead of meritocracy, we have mamacracy whereby the former governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, who had a very chequered and beleaguered childhood allowed his inability to grow up to get into the state arena whereby he effectively handed over the management of the state to his mother. He referred personalities and statesmen to his mother, allowed his mother to take up a title that is both obnoxious and completely unknown which they called Mother Excellency. Took his wife away from the scene, at a point the wife was maliciously labeled a psychiatric case just to make sure that his mother extended her stranglehold of her immediate family into the state arena and that brought Abia down to the lowest ebb.
As a member of that cabinet, you should not be proud to criticise else, what were people like you doing at that time?
Yes, it’s like when you get on an ABC Transport on your way back to Lagos and because you were passenger somewhere in the bus, somebody said why didn’t you grab the driver from behind to hit his head or why didn’t you collect the steering from him. That will obviously be a very erroneous assumption. Governance is something that when a leader takes the driver’s seat he is not expected to drive on the emotions of the passenger. A driver is expected to have an idea of the destination, he is supposed to have confidence in the craft of driving and he is supposed to be able to know the state of the vehicle viz a viz the journey at hand.
Rather, what you should do is to congratulate us for having the courage to at the time we saw that the driver was taking us in a contrary direction, for us to have had the courage to say ‘stop this vehicle we want to go down.
The fact that we saw that the young man became obsessed with power, became absolutely incapable of handling the instrument of power, abdicated the reins and instrument of power to his mother who was by the way an illiterate, incompetent trader who couldn’t handle a town union for her to have taken charge of the entire paraphernalia of office. Those of us that had conscience said ‘hey stop this vehicle and where he failed to stop, we found one way or the other to get ourselves out of the vehicle and then began to look for wedge to see whether we can stop the vehicle from crashing. You see, that is the angle you must look at it. We ought to be congratulated.
But why is difficult to allow a peaceful return of Kalu to Abia PDP in the interest of peace and reunion?
If it were to be former President Olusegun Obasanjo, he will say I dey laugh o. My reaction to Orji Kalu’s hallucination is, I dey laugh o. The man said he wants to gate-crash into an organisation, freedom of association doesn’t translate to gate-crashing. Much as an individual is free to join people’s club or to join Rotary or to join a church, every single church has its own rules and its own freedom to accept or reject an individual from joining. Much as you are free to walk up to a girl and propose marriage, the girl is also free to either accept your proposal or reject. To the extent that you have freedom to apply is the same extent to which the young lady has the freedom to either accept your advances or reject. So you cannot force yourself into an organization.
PDP is made of individuals, human beings and freedom of association means there is a sort of symbiotic relationship, a sort of concurrence of understanding and agreement.
He is talking about fear, fear of what? How can you be afraid of a man you has effectively put on the ground and saturated his throat with a lot of sand and mud so, he must be hallucinating. If he is talking of fear of being infected by his political virus, a virus that leads to backwardness, confusion, greed, avarice, disunity, yes! Certainly, every normal human being ought to be afraid of infection and as far as we are concerned today Orji Kalu is a very infectious political disease that ought to be absolutely phased out from anybody who has any desire to be politically healthy because his epoch marked the worst period in the history of Abia State and Abia politics and Abia development. So we are not afraid of Orji Uzor Kalu in terms of anything that he may want to claim politically but we are certainly weary of the political virus called Orji Uzor Kalu whom we do not want to infect our system because we don’t want this system to crash.
What if he is coming back to form an alliance with PDP in the light of the opposition merger in the country?
Is marriage by force? If you chased a woman too much, she will tell you: ‘is it by force?’ It takes two to tango even now that you see the opposition parties in Nigeria trying to come together to assume the name of a defunct analgesic that was used for headache in the 70s called APC; You know you need to have headache before you look for APC. The people who are looking for APC are those who have some form of political headache. No normal human being goes for such analgesic and by the way, an analgesic that is no longer in the counter. But suffice it to say that even in that contraception called coalition, you discovered that the individual parties agreed to come together and when APGA said we were not properly consulted that the top echelon of the party wasn’t properly consulted.
You saw Alhaji Lai Mohammed come out to say ‘we wouldn’t even include their logo in the new emblem that will emerge because we don’t want them to sue us for putting their logo without their consent.’ If Lai Mohammed and his people realised the need that there should be some form of mutual understanding before any form of co-habitation could happen politically, what makes Orji Uzor Kalu think that he will gate-crash into PDP without any form of understanding with the people who are now holding the affairs of the state? So, it smacks of hallucination and ignorance. Honestly speaking, I can relate all these things back to Mama Excellency. Orji Uzor Kalu is a young man that has a beleaguered background.
Back to the incumbent, there are insinuations that most of the governor’s projects are concentrated in Umuahia?
No. I am not from Umuahia; I am from Isiochi in Umunneochi Local Government. In my local government today, we have several ongoing projects sponsored by the state government. Isikwuato is the next in Abia north and we have Nnoya Road that is going on. We have a road that is connecting Isikwuato to Afikpo that is going on. We have the helipad, we have the ecological projects, we have health centres, we have hospitals that are going on as I speak and are subject to verification by any well-meaning journalist. You move a bit from Isikuato to Ohafia Local Government, Arochukwu Local Government and Bende Local Government, you’ll see government projects scattered all over the place.
A few days ago, the biggest cassava processing plant coming to the South-east in collaboration between the State and Federal Government, was sited at Abriba in Ohafia Local Government. That is not Umuahia. If the governor was guilty as some individuals have alleged, may be that great investment will also find its way into Abia Central or Umuahia. As I talk to you now, the Abia State government has spent more money in Aba and environs than in Umuahia.
The Aba/Owerri Road though a federal road but because the Federal Government couldn’t come to intervene and the people that ply that road are our citizens, His Excellency put in over N2 billion to make that road motorable from Osisioma junction all the way to the park and stretching down. If you bring N2 billion into Umuahia for instance, that would build about five roads, because of the nature of Aba, the terrain and the soil type, it costs more money per kilometre to do a road in that environment than it costs in the hinterland, Umuahia and environs.
You see, Governor Orrji is to us what Nelson Mandela is to South Africans. After all, South Africans did not celebrate Mandela because he built roads and brought them a buoyant economy. Mandela was there just for four years but a single historic feat he achieved for South Africans was liberty and the fact that in Abia State with the all the very intractable structures of domination which Kalu had effectively put in place, but when God wanted to deliver the children of Israel he made sure that an Israelite called Moses was trained in Pharaoh’s court so that quietly without shedding blood, he could just bring out His people. Liberation can only happen in two ways: either inside out or outward in.
But because Abia is God’s own state, God on His own predestined Orji like Moses into the court of Kalu and kept him there for an appointed time so that Abia could be liberated without the shedding of blood. After liberating us from Orji Uzor Kalu and clutches of his mother, Governor T.A.Orji went ahead to liberate us from kidnappers and armed robbers. Today, Abia is the oasis of peace in the South-east. After doing that, he went ahead to lay the solid foundations for infrastructural for Abia’s socio-economic growth. That is why you are seeing projects dotting the state. There is no way you can compare the era of the locust under Kalu and this era of liberty and prosperity under Orji.