HOW DID IT COME TO THIS?

3
Theodore-Orji

Iyke Ogbonnaya writes that the allegations against the former governor of Abia State, Theodore Orji, are spurious

I am bewildered at the hue and cry which trailed the recent but unsubstantiated allegations levelled against the former Governor of Abia State, Senator T.A. Orji and his household by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
It is my firm belief that we will not require any intellectual sophistication to drive home the truth that a case such as the T.A. Orji’s has all the composition of retrogressive embodiment.

An objective assessment of all the given sides in a matter such as Ochendo’s will spare us the burden of dissipating energy on irrelevancies and channel same to more critical and life-threatening issues like security, which as it where is tearing the very fabric of our corporate existence.
The humanity in us as I attempt to generalize, should have reminded us of the possibility that Senator T.A. Orji could be hunted politically by other actors, whose initial gubernatorial drives did not see the light of day and have thus resorted to trumped-up allegations as a way of cutting their own pound of flesh.

A critical but objective-minded appraisal of the allegations against Orji, will drive home the truism that the N525 billion alleged to have been misappropriated, was spuriously manufactured. That allegation could not have been the true position given the obvious reality that the sub-heads they were purported to have been drawn from were not in existence, during the gubernatorial stewardship of Senator Orji.

The ingredient of the point being advanced is that Abia under T.A. Orji did not know what is today’s ‘Paris refund’ as bandied and the consequent of which is that financial resources could not have accrued to the state vide those concocted channels. Gone are the days when financial documents and transactions are shrouded in secrecy, else the likes of Sam Onuigbo now a House of Representatives member and Maxwell Adindu both of whom superintended over the finances of the state as commissioners could not have boldly and publicly disclaimed the Paris account allegation.

Shouldn’t we be amused therefore at the recent comic relief carried out by a motley gathering of conscripted hackers whose demand is that Ochendo’s household be rounded up and thrown into gaol irrespective of what they will weigh legally at the pendulum of justice?

I sincerely sympathize with the constitutional provision that promotes our peoples right of association, but it should be administered without having to vent misguided resentments and tantrums on other innocent Nigerians and consequently delude ourselves into believing that every crap will be accepted and swallowed hook line and sinker.

These fixation on what seems right in our own conceit, has on different occasions beclouded our ability to fairly situate that aside from opponents and their willing collaborators conspiring to politically dent and diminish Ochendo’s credentials, he could ordinarily not have misappropriated a whopping N525 billion as presently being accused.

Curiosity compelled me to painstakingly consult and research on allocations brought to public domain by the National Bureau of Statistics referencing figures from the office of the Accountant General.

Abia’s buoyant month for any federation allocation never exceeded N4.5 billion before deductions for mandatory debt services. If left at a monthly gross of N4.5 billion, it could still not have amounted to N525 billion as alleged. Otherwise, payment of workers’ salaries, largely believed to have hovered around N2.6 billion monthly and which the Government of T.A. Orji never owed, would have ended in catastrophe.

Perhaps, we may be oblivious of the expository reality that blue chip and thriving companies operating in Nigeria are mandatorily required to register with Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) under the control of federal government of Nigeria and saddled with the responsibility of auditing and governance.

I have to rightly observe therefore that the companies being associated with Ochendo’s family could not have been operating without meeting CAMA’s conditionality.

It also did not occur to us that the companies under focus have been in business for a period spanning over a decade, preceding the gubernatorial stewardship of Senator Orji.

As mandatorily constituted, limited liability companies do not operate without the inclusion of other actors, who must bring their initial equity shares for a seamless pursuit of various business interests. My take in this regard therefore is that Mr Chinedum Orji and his siblings are old enough to engage and partner with investors with the fidelity and bullish business permutations and financial wherewithal to jointly pursue and clinically deliver on any business interest.

Persecutors of the former governor, did not consider it appropriate to reconcile their claim with what is domiciled in Code of Conduct Bureau as should have been the case, before tactlessly drawing conclusion.

It is our duty no doubt, to conscientiously follow up on how the governor administered the use of security votes, but we should not be unmindful of the lacuna created by the Constitution to the effect that it is largely not accounted for.

However, that is beside the point, knowing that the governor whose stewardship recorded peace and tranquility like Ochendo’s, attained that by expending billions of naira in maintenance of security. Our memory will not fail us to at this point to hurriedly recall the menace of a kidnap king pin in Abia State: “Osisikankwu” who terrorized and gave our business moguls, a run for their money.

Exceeding the red line was what became the national challenge of daring to kidnap a group of journalists who were returning from a professional programme which held in Cross River and how the then government of T.A. Orji deployed state of the art technology to free his captives, contain, and eventually nipped him in the bud.

We should also have been agitated with how Abia under T.A. Orji could have chronicled some enduring infrastructural milestones viz: Goodluck Jonathan 144 Battalion Barracks Ohafia, Nigerian Army School of Languages Isuikwuato, Ultra-Modern State Secretariat, imposing and prestigious High Court complex in Umuahia and Aba, 5000 Capacity International Conference Center, classical JAAC and ASUBEB building, Ubani Modern and spacious market, New Umuahia Timber market, Abia Specialists Hospital, roads infrastructure, etc., and still cornered 525 billion! I am beginning to wonder when Abia’s economy became this incredibly buoyant.

I am not averse to the entitlements of our individual and collective opinions as it affects what we feel about Senator T.A. Orji and his household. But let us think before we talk and critically consult before we draw conclusions.

Ogbonnaya wrote from Lagos