In Christian beliefs and Igbo cosmology, there is destiny. That which God has given to you must manifest irrespective of manipulations, especially when reinforced with diligence. A wise saying of Indian origin states: you are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad IV 4.5 Albert Schweitzer puts it clearly, “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”
Chief Theodore Orji, born November 9, 1950 to an indefatigable sovereign and warrant chief, Chief Tom Orji Ikoro, in Amaokwe Ugba, present day Umuahia North Local Government Area, has lived up to his destiny. His father, having worked closely with the colonial officers, admired the urbane lifestyles of the District Officers, popularly known as D Os, and wished his son to be one. He did not make this wish a secret, as he subtly impressed this tall dream on young Theodore Ahamefule Orji.
In those days, fathers were semi gods who were all knowing and all powerful. Their sneezes caused instant cold as their words were laws. Chief T.A. Orji did not rest on his oars for this dream to come through. As they say, he did not wait in the harbour for his ship to berth, rather he went to sea.
More acknowledgements go to his dint of hard work coupled with divine guidance that he today has made monumental impacts wherever he went. His civil service experience and career are lessons in obedience and sacrifice. His politics, policies and governance in Abia, in spite of challenges, were fiercely protective of the poor and deprived and at the same time guaranteeing the security and peaceful coexistence of the upper and middle classes. His ideals were encompassing and touched on all lives, be you a citizen, denizen, clergy and laity. Most of these were firsts of its kind; a few examples of these will suffice.
He is the first Ibeku person to become a senator en route the Government House. The first governor to insist on carrying out the Abia charter of equity to the letter. The first governor also to build a Government House outside the relics of colonial bequest. There are standing today the secretariat, e-library, and an International Conference Centre. It is through his instrumentality that women in Abia have broken the glass ceiling, rendering our fastest growing ABSU registry to be presided over by a woman.
Equally notable is the fact that under his watch and urgings, women had their highest number in Abia House of Assembly. It is on record that the highest minimum wage in the country is paid in Abia, where for the first time all civil servants were promoted to the next level. The helipad at Isuikwuato, the courageous relocation of Ogwumabiri Umuahia, the industrial market to new and accommodative sites are all never-experienced innovations.
There are so many firsts if properly scrutinised, coupled with pioneering initiatives, like the airport and seaport with permanent sites already acquired, making it easy for his successor to continue from where he stopped.
When T. A. Orji as governor of Abia State insisted on carrying out the Abia charter of equity to the letter by extending governance of the state in a power shift formula to Abia South senatorial district, many, even the beneficiaries, did not believe and notably swelled the camp of the opponents, to the chagrin of their fellow compatriots.
Today, the dream of the founding fathers has come true and he did not look down or abandon his people. He made sure that they got their legitimate right as occupants and donors of the capital city, and made sure that all these were not at expense of other zones.
Presently at the senate, he has answered his name. He has sponsored many bills and seven of these have already scaled through the first readings, making him a man to be watched in the National Assembly.
It is on this backdrop that the Ogurube Magazine and Ibeku Egwu Asaa Cultural Union in exquisite collaboration with Bawas Mall, came together to celebrate Orji in a gala night hosted at the Bawas Mall owned by Chief Uche Akwukwuegbu, an eminent son of Ibeku Land and the Traditional Prime Minister, who doubles as a culture ambassador. It is an added plumage to the eagle on Iroko, Senator of the Federal republic of Nigeria.
We are aware that detractors are at work misinforming and releasing blood chilling rumours, but he keeps soaring. The question these people have not asked themselves is, what have we achieved with these fake news and bad blood tales?
Certainly, these have not stopped him; rather his political fortunes keep increasing in leaps and bounds, to the extent that he has not failed in any election. His political sagacity, seriously service-oriented, is unequalled and encompassing. Let us honour and celebrate him. Borrowing from an old expression, if you cannot beat Ochendo, join him!
––Onuzuruike writes from Abuja