Legacy of devastation in Abia

Posted by Chima Nwafo | 8 December 2015 | 4,037 times

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The continued defence and undue adulation of ex-governor Theodore Ahamefule Orji’s deprave and failed regime, by his goons, must be viewed against the backdrop of an administration which subjected political appointees to infernal oath of allegiance to their benefactor. That explains their commitment to deceptive advocacy and dubious reference to non-existent ‘legacy projects’ by the indisputably corrupt and inept government that turned Abia State to a monarchy. One of his media aides displayed such a blurred perception in a recent write-up in ThisDay Newspaper, in reaction to the commendable petition by Save Abia Initiative for Change (SAIC). The group had petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), detailing some of the misdeeds that characterised the Ochendo’s eight-year misrule. Whereas watchers of Abia politics described the content of the sleaze charge as a tip of the iceberg, one of the former governor’s hirelings rose in stout defence of his master.

Perhaps still inebriated by the flagitious oath of loyalty, he fluttered: “Some of us informed Abia people will never allow lies to prevail over truth. Senator T A Orji did not mismanage Abia funds. If he was greedy, as the group wanted people to believe, he wouldn’t have embarked on the LEGACY PROJECTS DOTTING all the nooks and crannies of the state.” But in THISDAY of Sunday October 11, a more inebriated fan, in joining issues with some of the Ochendo’s Umuahia kinsmen, presented a more ridiculously bloated image of their benefactor. But in his revolting disregard for the truth, he unwittingly portrayed his benefactor accurately: A narrow-minded, parochial and inept executive who reduced the public office of a state governor to an Umuahia-Ibeku monarchy. This writer rightly cited ‘Legacy projects’ all of which are located at Umuahia. It then follows that TA Orji was guilty of perjury, as he developed his homeland at the expense of the oil-bearing agricultural communities whose ecosystem has been destroyed by decades of oil exploitation and exploration activities since the 1950s. The paid-piper also he reeled out names of dignitaries who came to the state to hail the potentate. An analyst had cause to ask: If TA Orji performed as a governor, why do you need to call Abuja and Lagos-based politicians and journalists as witnesses? This makes one wonder if authors of such fiendish and fallacious articles have any regard for moral values. But what value will beneficiaries from the enormously corrupt regime have for truth, since their minds have been warped and conditioned to accept wrong as right; and to elevate self-interest above the good of the polity. However, it is pertinent to educate them and their ilk that Abia is actually littered with abandoned legacy investments by earlier selfless and visionary leaders.

For examples, Dr Michael Okpara, Premier of defunct Eastern Region; Chief Sam Mbakwe, Governor of the old Imo State; Sir Jerry Enyeazu, MBE, renowned Director-General, defunct East Central State Sports Commission. These were employment/revenue-generating, poverty-alleviating and capacity-building projects. They include the Modern Ceramics Industry/ Golden Guinea Brewery, Umuahia; Aba Textile Mills/ International Glass Industry, Aba; Nsulu Games Village and Farm settlements in selected LGAs, besides Mbakwe’s dualisation and reconstruction of war devastated roads.  Today, Guinness Nigeria Plc, which bought Dubic Breweries, Aba, could not cope with the dilapidated state of roads. As a result, it relocated operations to their Benin plant, while Geometric Independent Power project has to construct an access-road to link old Aba-Owerri road. It is also important to note that one project worthy of mention in the 16 years of PDP and its variants’ misadventure in Abia was Chief Orji Uzor Kalu’s transformation of Enyimba from a struggling local team to a national/ international champion club. 

Trapped in the throes of selective retention, the ‘informed’ falsifiers usually feign ignorance of the foregoing litany of abandoned legacy projects, for the same reason, they lost sight of the fact that the 17 local governments in Abia bear scars of T A Orji’s neglect and mis-governance. From infrastructural deficit, dilapidated urban and rural roads to backlog of unpaid salaries of civil servants and pensioners (up to the time of writing this piece), as well as high unemployment rate, leading to increase in crime and poverty. They also need to be reminded that their master is in the Senate due less to the people’s mandate as to PDP’s power to corrupt public officials. How else do one explain the success of a candidate who lost in his own ward, lest hostile LGAs in other parts of Abia Central. Given the pervasive power of lies and the aversion of its purveyors to admit the truth, a sample of his failure in the three senatorial zones becomes compelling.

The Ochendo publicly admitted that he deliberately neglected the revenue-spinning commercial town of Aba, contrary to the constitutional Oath he swore to as Governor of Abia State, to wit: “I will not allow my personal interest to influence my conduct or my official decision; …. I will do right to all manner of people, according to law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.” Did he uphold this oath? Besides the earlier examples, the nefarious neglect of oil-bearing communities of Ukwa West Local Government Area, is a worst case scenario.   

In a September 9, 2015 interview with a national weekly, traditional prime minister of an Asa community, Dr Stanford Dozie, rued: “We have looked at the issues of security, welfare of our citizens and partnership with the past administration. The issues giving us serious concern are: the drainage system, (potable) drinking water, bad roads, and waste management. If you look at our roads now, they are un-passable due to total neglect by the immediate past administration.” Regretting that all entreaties to T A Orji fell on deaf ears, he passionately pleaded with Governor Okezie Ikpeazu: “May be the past (PDP) government deleted us from the map of Niger Delta states, but we want to let the government know that we still exist.” Moved by the ugly details from the interview, a Sunday Sun columnist, Ralph Egbu, introspected: “By 2009, the revenue funds accruing to it (T A Orji’s regime) on account of Derivation was over N800 million. This is (was) exclusive of Excess Crude Allocation and SURE-P funding, which, as we understood, went very high at a point under Jonathan’s administration. Governor Theodore Orji came up with ASOPADEC – a commission that was conceived to receive 30 per cent of the Derivation Fund (accruing to Abia from Federation Account). But I can say without fear that the conception is not only amorphous but, treacherous as well. The funds are (were) hardly released. When they do (did), it is (was) siphoned. To make matters worse, the government nominates pliable persons to interventionist oil commissions.” Yet, a goon tells us T A Orji did not mismanage Abia funds!

 The state of facilities in most parts of Abia North could be collectively captured by the dilapidated condition of the Ohafia General Hospital and the most strategic link road that connects old Bende Division with the state capital. Veteran columnist Chief Duro Onabule pondered: “Whether federal or state, the Arochukwu-Ohafia-Umuahia Road in Abia State calls for instant attention. The less said about the state of this particular road, the better. The sad story could never be better narrated than the news feature on Channels Television feature about a fortnight ago. “The story is not different from the Osisioma council area of Abia Central. The Old Aba-Owerri Road up to the popular Ekeakpara market area hosts the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s Depot and several small scale industries. The roads are in their worst state of disrepair. Perhaps more pathetic are the two feeder roads traversing Osisioma farming communities from Ekeakpara to Omuma in Rivers State: one from Egbede, the other from Umuokiri-Umuodu. The shame is that while the Rivers ends of these roads have been tarred up to their respective boundaries, the Abia stretch are symbols of neglect and taunt by the Omuma farmers who convey their farm products to Aba and Ekeakpara market through these roads.  

Amidst such overwhelming cloud of state-wide evidences of dereliction, bungling and non-performance vis-à-vis claims of innocence by TA Orji’s hirelings, the question remains: What did he do with the oil-producing state allocations to Abia for the eight locust years of his administrative fiasco? 

•Chima Nwafo is Consulting Editor, Business & Economywatch/ News Express Online. He can be reached via chi_dafo@yahoo.com. Photo shows Ex-Governor T A Orji.

Source: News Express

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