Nigeria Matters

'Ochichi Nchigbu' In Abia State

Abia State in south-east Nigeria is known as “God’s Own State” with Umuahia as the capital city. The Executive Governor is one ‘Ochendo’ Theodore Ahamefule Orji who made some history by becoming the first man to be ‘elected’ Governor while on the EFCC detention facility in Lagos for corruption charges as the Chief of Staff to his predecessor Orji Uzor Kalu. While the then Gov. Kalu may have been the target the constitutional immunity flowing from his executive post prevented the anti-graft agency from picking him up or so it seemed. So they went for Orji who as the CoS must have known one dirty ‘deal’ or two his former boss was involved in while ruling Abia with his mother, “Mama Excellency”.

The battle for the gubernatorial contest in 2007 was fought and won without Orji contributing anything tangible towards its success with his freedom shackled thousands of miles away from Umuahia. Ex-Governor Kalu did what he did with his interest at heart having realised that an anointed malleable ‘godson’ as successor was better than any other independent candidate whose loyalty could be questioned as soon as he began controlling the state’s funds. Rumours even went wild days to the election or soon after inauguration that the out-going Governor and the in-coming one went somewhere to take a clandestine ‘oath’ in order for the one coming to be ever submissive and loyal to the one going!

Today things have fallen apart as a lot of water has passed under the bridge as they use to say. The falcon can no longer hear the falconer! The ‘godson’ has since become the new ‘godfather’ in town and he is trying everything within his power to run the old godfather out of town. The old godfather (Kalu), a billionaire business mogul, is fighting back but the new godfather (Orji) is ‘winning’ with the state resources at his command. Both of them came to power through a political party (the PPA) but today none of them wanted to have anything to do with the moribund party any longer with the ruling party (PDP) taking home the political capital. Both of them (though Kalu’s own remains controversial from his ward to the federal level) have since moved back to the PDP abandoning the PPA, a political party founded and funded by Kalu. Can political prostitution have any better definition?

Whilst the Governor and his predecessor have gone their seperate political ways the incumbent is manipulating everything, using the incumbency factor, to rubbish the legacy of the former governor. The latest in the plot to ‘kill’ Kalu politically came recently in the form of Abia State University degree awarded to Kalu when he was governor and a ‘student’ of the institution. The ABSU degree was ‘withdrawn’ by the ABSU governing council citing certain anomaly in the whole exercise. According to them Kalu’s enrolment was fraudulently done and he never completed the necessary semesters before he was awarded the certificate of graduation.

Well, the cult of power in Nigeria has, again, come to play here in its naked form. How did a Governor of a state become a ‘student’ in a university he was overseeing as the Chancellor or Visitor? And why was a degree issued to him upon not completing the requisite semesters? Who issued the degree and who ‘authorized’ the enrolment in the first place? Why was Kalu desperate to be counted among the alma mater of ABSU? Can an awarded degree be cancelled or withdrawn in this manner? What is the executive role of Gov. Orji in all these nonsense? Now that the degree is withdrawn what’s next? Maybe stripping him of his Igbere indigeneship or Nigerian citizenship? Has the deed succeeded in diminishing Kalu’s stature academically or doing damage to his bloated ego in the eyes of discerning Nigerians?

Governor Theodore Ahamefule Orji is ruling Abia state like a small ‘kingdom’; his countenance and general profile gives away the image of a timid primitive king ruling his autonomous ‘kingdom’ with his family. As a neophyte and non-performing governor east of the Niger Orji has tried to use every trick in the book to cover up his incompetence leaving statecraft to suffer. His eldest son, Chinedu, moves about town with a coterie of bodyguards and security details — running amok in the face of little provocation or challenge. He talks down on people and behaves like a drunken daddy’s pet in whom he is well pleased.

He sees his father as perhaps on the ‘throne’ like the son of the former Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, Karim, the ex-Minister of “heaven and earth”, now in detention for having over a billion Euros discovered in his bank accounts. The 44-year-old ‘Monsieur dix pour-cent’ (Mister ten percent) and super Minister of different powerful ministries during his father’s decade presidential sojourn has formally been charged with “illicit enrichment” and corruption. Or the son of the ruling dictator in Equitorial Guinea, Teodoro Nguema Obiang, whose billion-dollars wealth is still a subject of investigation by France and the United States. Both of them became stupendously rich with their fathers calling the shots in Malabo and Dakar. While Teodoro, a playboy, remains at large, hiding from Interpol on his trail, Karim, the white man with a bald head in ‘honour’ of his octogenerean father, is cooling his heels in a prison in Dakar awaiting his day in court.

Chinedu Orji has been in and out of the news lately as he roamed about town barking orders and issuing threats to his perceived opponents and those of his father’s. Few years ago Chinedu reportedly got what he never bargained for in his little ‘paradise’ when upon arrival in a Supermarket in the capital city he had ordered, as usual, the shoppers out so that he could shop alone in peace! (Talk of a ‘Prince’ or delusion of grandeur of princehood!) But on this day two men had refused to be chased away like ‘slaves’ obeying the orders of their master: a senior military figure and his orderly. As Chinedu saw them defying his orders he approached them and asked them to leave forcefully but the men stood their ground. The governor’s son slapped the army captain and ordered his thugs and bodyguards to beat up the two disobeying men in mufti. And the army men were beaten black and blue and bundled out of the supermarket. But they put a call across and reinforcement came their way from a near-by army barrack.

As the soldiers arrived they descended on the Chinedu thugs and bodyguards and the unruly boy himself attacking them brutally and leaving them in a bad state with broken bones and bruised bodies. They were taken to the barrack and locked up; it was through his father’s apologetic intervention and that of the ‘oga at the top’ Gen. Ihejirika (the COAS) that they regained their freedom. Chinedu was consequently flown to London for some surgery and from there he had vindictively organized the kidnapping of the soldier that crossed his path somewhere outside Umuahia! The army man must have been released and Chinedu must have gotten through his trauma and returned back to Umuahia to continue in his meddlesomeness and youthful exuberance. But a lesson or two must have been learnt along the line.

Recently in Umuahia the manifest impunity and heart-rending social injustice in Nigeria was given another dimension when a local musician based in Aba by name Prince Possible Onwughara was arrested and detained by the police for what they termed “breach of existing peace against the government of Abia State over poor state of the roads in Aba through offensive publication”. The police, always serving the interests of oppressors and not Nigerians whose natural resources pay and maintain them, cited the nebulous “section 88 (c) of the Criminal Code Act Cap 77, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria” against which Onwughara must be charged! The arrest and detention of the musician expressing his fundamental human rights of freedom of expression must be condemned as not only barbaric but a manifestation of dictatorial tendency by the Abia state governor and his goons.

Prince Onwughara may have been cowed or intimidated b

y the force of arms but he must never feel guilty for he committed no crime. He must therefore keep singing for the development of his community and the emancipation of the masses. Those in power, especially in the south-east, prefer ‘otimkpus’ (sycophants) to critics bold enough to tell them their failures to their face. If Possible Onwughara had done a song praising Gov. Orji he would not have possibly been a target of crude persecution. He must find solace in his name, Possible, as everything is possible for those who believe in whatever good they are doing.

“Ochichi n’chigbu” in Igbo language means, simply put, bad governance and Gov. Orji is guilty of same in Abia state. He does not need a local musician to tell him that before he knows that as the truth. A visit to Aba and its environs in particular reveals a poor state of infrastructure and Abia state in general a poor state of delivery of democracy dividends for the past six years Orji has been in command. If saying it openly represents a crime for which one stands accused then we, the people, are ready to be arrested and charged! We hereby challenge them to arrest us if they can!

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