Chinedum Orji: A Gentle Public Figure


Charles Ajunwa writes that Hon. Chinedum Orji, the Majority Leader in the Abia State House of Assembly, representing Umuahia Central state constituency, has shown explicit manners and gentility in his private and official duties

It was the first president of Federal Republic of Nigeria, Rt. Hon. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe who was credited with the following statement: “Whatever you are, aspire to be the best, if you choose to be the grass, be the best grass by the valley bed, in whatever profession you find yourself, create an impact recognisable by the society you belong.” This is what Hon. Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji is doing.

Hon. Orji who is popularly called Ikuku Oma Abia by his admirers, is the Majority Leader in the Abia State House of Assembly, representing Umuahia Central state constituency. He is consistently polite but firm and modest in the way he carries out his personal and official duties. One lesson that some persons learnt on December 25, 2016, when he celebrated his birthday, was the gentility that characterised his mien.

Unlike some persons in his class, such a memorable day ought to have been amplified. But Hon. Orji whom gentility runs in his blood made it a placid one. Obviously, that level of gentility and decorum are not known of princes and princesses. Princes and princesses here refer to the children of the wealthy. Without a doubt, Hon. Orji has wrestled pomposity to the ground even when he had every opportunity to be pompous.

I could remember when he picked the nomination interest for the House of Assembly and traducers speculated that he was going to impose himself as Speaker of the House. The amiable Orji vehemently rebuffed such claim as belonging to the trash bin. He rather put the story straight that he was going to the House to give his people quality representation, because their pressure on him to vie would make strong positive programmes for youths.

Keeping to his promise, Hon. Orji later emerged Majority Leader of Abia Assembly, instead of Speaker.
Of a truth, Hon. Orji was not interested in the speakership but on how to better the lots of people and his constituents, a programme he had started formally by engaging youths in the Ochendo Youth Foundation in which at least, over 20, 000 youths from the state were trained in different skills acquisition and were empowered afterwards.

Hon. Orji has recorded precedents for gentility, manners, and etiquette. Research has shown that Hon. Orji is not like those in the aristocratic social structures of France and England in the eighteenth century, whose social ladder made to openly display their arrogance and superiority through their everyday behaviour.

“Historian Richard Bushman has shown that eighteenth century practices of refining one’s ‘Body and Mind’ were based on European traditions. Gentility bestowed social power through a person’s external appearance and their behaviour in both formal and informal settings. Aesthetics of gentility, for example, overtook the process of eating; both the presentation and consumption of food and drink at the dinner table took on new meanings, designed to confirm social hierarchies,” a source said.

Like Hon. Orji has been showing humane features in his conducts and helping to change Abia for the better, the arrogance of the eighteenth century aristocrats “changed significantly in nineteenth-century America. The increasing popularity of etiquette handbooks, facilitated by technological developments in printing, enabled literate Americans to learn how to become refined and conform to genteel cultural ideals. While American etiquette manuals copied the practical attributes of Old World genteel practices, they stressed that gentility in the United States was a democratising force.”

Hon. Orji’s democratising force can be traced to have started when he instituted it worth doing and he gave monthly stipends. He gave free micro credit funds to youths across the length and breadth of the state. In some reports, this metamorphosed into supporting artisans with equipment.

According to a source, “Some of the empowerment materials given out under the youth empowerment programme are: vehicles, tricycles, sewing machines, generating sets, sets of clippers, call-centre equipment, grinding machines, wrappers, cash among others. This will culminate in job creation and youth empowerment in the state.”

Hon. Orji has shown that leadership is not about acting scenes but about performing it. He has kept his team focused without minding some of the consequences against his personal adventures. His actions have inspired a lot of people and have laid foundation for others. He has shown impact, influence and inspiration which are about the qualities of leadership.

Conversely, let me end this treatise due to space. I would like to add an important point from research, “Manners were explicit performances of gentility. Just as importantly, however, they were implicit social commentaries on gender, class, race, and American cultural philosophy. Yet, as illustrated by the gender norms, the social advantages denoted by gentility were only available to a select proportion of the American population. Slaves, free blacks, the impoverished and the illiterate perhaps became more isolated by their inability to access and understand the pervasive language of manners and etiquette.”