Much more than the challenges of governance and development, Abia State governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, has had to contend with cynicism. Olawale Olaleye writes
Constructive criticism is what anyone can deal with, however scathing. But cynicism which is never found on the crest of truth and reason or conscious attempt at righting wrongs, is an impossible ailment. The carrier is innately recalcitrant – sometimes irrational and therefore not amenable to its antidote, which is critical and objective thinking.
Talk about anyone, who has had a taste of the bitter dose of cynicism and still continues to do so, the Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu comes to mind. No doubt, a victim of what has been diagnosed as the major undoing of the average South-easterner – the Nshiko mentality or crabology as sociologists have discovered – Ikpeazu has had to deal with this scourge, whilst at the same time grappling with the mandate challenge – governance and development.
But first, what is crabology? Google defines it as the study of the mental attitude, language and actions of individuals within a culture, who refuse to support others in their efforts to better themselves, their community, and/or their organisation(s).
Further down, Google has identified another term, crabbing. This, it defines as the emitting of a negative mental attitude, language, and/or actions from an individual(s) or group, with the intent to stop or hinder the progress and success of an individual(s) or group.
Thus, the crab mentality simply means the negative mental attitude that causes language and actions from an individual(s) or group(s) towards other individual(s) or group(s), with the intent to hurt, cause pain, distract and ultimately stop or hinder the progress and success of an individual(s) or group(s).
Now, this will stun you. There is what is identified as spiritual crabology. Pastor Tom Stuart of the Ignited2pray denomination has discovered. According to him, this in effect, says: “If I can’t be free, neither can you.”
Breaking it down, he noted: “It is the tendency to want to downplay, discourage and even disallow someone else from a breakthrough or succeeding at something that we have not experienced. It may be motivated by envy or jealousy, a competitive attitude or simply ignorance as to what is really happening.
“Needless to say crabology also has spiritual applications and implications,” he further explained, adding “Paul, the apostle addresses this very thing in his letter to the Romans, when he said, ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice’. This injunction is set in the context of seven verses in which Paul is giving specific instructions to Christian believers as to how to get along with one another (Romans 12:9-16). All of it is great advice and very much needed, as evidenced by how frequently it has not been heeded.”
Therefore, to argue that Ikpeazu assumed office at a most inauspicious time in the political evolution of the state would seem to those in the crab category as some tell-tale. But nothing can be farther from the truth. The last 16 years, albeit of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is easily adjudged as having failed the people. In most instances, where the foundation for infrastructure development was laid, it was a shoddy job, culminating in very weak sub-structure. But in many other cases, there was no foundation laid actually.
Ikpeazu, without any cheap play at power, inherited the totality of the mess, albeit a PDP governor too. But with a sound academic background, desirable experience in the public sector, significant political standing within the power equation in the state and creditable human relations, set out to change the Abia narrative with deserving attention on critical sectors of the economy of the state. It was a move in the right direction for the economic prosperity of Abia State.
As a bonafide ‘son of the soil’, his understanding of his people and their needs was not in deficit, not to debate the fact that he did not lobby for the job but earned on merit and excellent credentials. Above all, that he has the gravitas to drive the chain of command required of the office of the governor is always evident, even at first contact with him. Intelligent, smart and sharp, Ikpeazu is deep and is not given to flippancy or vain talks.
Thus, setting out almost immediately with reforms in critical sectors of the state, backed by stringent financial re-engineering of the economy that was guided by accurate siting of infrastructure in key regions of the state further attested to his personae, so much that his arch rivals knew it was just a question of time – Abia was already being positioned to catch up with its contemporaries should Ikpeazu sustain the pace.
Unfortunately, the hope stirred by the coming of Ikpeazu was to suffer temporary setback following distractions from the political front, especially the cases instituted to challenge his electoral victory. This, no doubt, has gone on for too long and to assume it would not take its toll on development in the state is the height of hypocrisy and ill-conceived criticism.
The reason is because with the cases going back and forth at different courts, what are first affected are the confidence and trust of investors as well as their development partners, since a question mark has been cast on the mandate of the governor. But the current situation, many reckon, is temporary because by May 12, all of this would be over and the state can double up its stripes and catch up with the rest of the country.
Nonetheless, Ikpeazu has not hidden behind this finger of distraction to leave the state to deteriorate. He has continued to deal with the issues as much as time and chance can take him, hopefully the ruling will favour his mandate and the state can regain its sanity from the political hawks alleged to be bent on denting the credibility of the government, yet on unfounded grounds and criticism.
For the records, despite the staggering distractions which derived from the needless court cases, Ikpeazu has continued with the development agenda of the state slowly but steady especially with interventions in such areas that directly affect the people. This is consistent with his resolve as a change agent and ensuring that there is a distinct demarcation between his government and the previous ones.
Just recently, the government signed a memorandum of understanding with the Great Nobles Integrated Limited for the management and development of the once moribund Ndi Oji Abam Rubber Estate in Arochukwu Local Government Area of the state. Commissioner for Agriculture, Chief Uzo Azubuike, signed on behalf of the state government. Hon. Acho Nwakanma of Noble Integrated Limited is the investor.
As the Marketer-in-Chief of the Made-in-Aba products, the governor has recorded huge success in his devotion to the initiative. The latest is that the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses Commission (ICPC) recently placed an order for 5,000 pieces of specially designed conference bags to be produced in Aba.
Commissioner for Industries, Science and Technology, Chief Henry Ikoh said it was the first in the series of collaborations between the state and several agencies of the federal government for the promotion of Made-in-Aba goods.
Abia state’s internally generated revenue has progressed to over N1,000,000,000 (One billion Naira) from a paltry four hundred million and the projection is that by the end of this year, it would exceed N2,000,000,000(Two Billion Naira).
In the area of education, being a critical sector, Ikpeazu has done quite a lot, including but not limited to reducing the fees paid by the students of the Abia State College of Education (Technical from N50,000 to N35,000. And to attract foreign investments, the governor was in Egypt recently to seek support of the Afrexim Bank.
Apart from having done a number of roads since assuming office, an effort that is generally believed to have changed the face of the state, one key concern of his government is the Port Harcourt Road, Aba, a federal road, to which the governor has assured the people that the contractor would move to site within the next few weeks.
Some years ago, the Bank of Industry (BoI) closed its Abia office for administrative and other related reasons, but under Governor Ikpeazu the bank is back and has built a new office located at Adelabu Street, in Umuahia, the state capital. The return of the BoI was as a result of Ikpeazu’s invitation – a measure taken by his leadership in his esoteric approach to governance to revive the commercial drive of the state.
But in spite of these palpable efforts and the challenges that conspicuously stand in his way to promptly delivering on electoral promises, his own people have refused to honestly analyse these circumstances to justify the inadequacies of the moment, but they appear more interested in pulling him down.
Whatever that brings to the table for them, the unfortunate aspect of this is that this syndrome is fast becoming a character trait of the easterners in politics, to pull down their own people in office as if there is a national prize for it. The result is the dearth of underdevelopment that currently dots that part of the country.
Yet, this is a mentality that belongs only to the crabs in the animal kingdom and will achieve nothing but collective failure. What is wrong with rallying round their own people in power and providing support – intellectual, technical, financial and human resources – as well as engaging the government constructively?
After all, if nothing is true about Ikpeazu, certainly not the fact that he is not accessible! But because the cynics are naturally wired to not see the good or prospect in anything or anyone, the destructive darts becomes the only weapon, whether or not it further vitiates the collective interest.
The earlier Ikpeazu realises he is walking the valley of misanthropists, the sooner he understands the need to completely work them out of his development equations, because they are fixated and of no good to the collective agenda. On the contrary, critics are always welcome and indeed, often seen as development partners so long it is constructive.
The Abia project cannot afford to fail and excuses on account of distractions from scoffers would not be tenable anywhere on the day of reckoning. Ikpeazu, therefore, must maintain total control.