If socio-economic development is enhanced or promoted by association with others to advance group, state, national and global interests, then no state or country
can be great if its leaders stamps on the privileges and rights of non-indigenes or persons working or residing in that state.
[Image: Fomer abia state governor, theodore orji]
Referring specifically, to the inglorious status the former governor of Abia state, Senator Theodore Orji, gave the State, while holding swear as the executive governor of the state for 8 years, by disengaging non-indigenes that were part of the State’s civil service. For a state variously described as ‘’God’s own State’’, ‘’the commercial nerve of the Eastern Nigeria’’, ‘’The Japan of Africa’’ it is despondently a reputation to keep.
This atrocious policy, made by Senator T.A Orji’s administration which has wrecked business activities in Aba and its environs, disunited the Igbos and almost strangled the fighting spirit and unity of purpose of the Igbos which has always been derived from Aba the strength city of the Igbo land.
Aba also known as Enyimba City is not only the commercial nerve of the Igbo land. It has also, over the years due to the strong presence of the Igbo brotherly spirit that unites and moderates residents actions towards loving one another, even when they are not related in any way, to rise up or erupt in defense of one another against oppression, injustice and crime, become the conscience and strength of the Igbo people.
This is the spirit that leads the town to protest anti-Igbo polices or marginalization. In 1929 for instance, when the British colonial authorities came up with an unjust taxation policy in Igboland, it was the Aba women that came to the rescue of the entire Igbo people, in a well-articulated and fearlessly executed riot remembered till this day as the famous Aba women riot.
It was the same ‘’Igbo brotherly love spirit’’ that was rekindled in the second republic, when Igbo people rose against the presidential candidate of the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria UPN, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who came on campaign to Aba city. The protest which bothered on Late Awolowo’s alleged role in authoring and championing am economic blockade policy against the Igbo people during the 1967-1970 civil war that saw Igbo children suffer of malnutrition and kwashiorkor, sent strong warning that Igbo’s are not to be toiled with.
I must hasten to make the point that the world is aware of how strongly Aba in Abia State has united, generated revenue and stood behind the freedom, defense, liberation and reintegration of the Igbo’s. Senator T.A Orji’s decision to disengage non-indigenes caused the death of Igbo civil servants in Abia, created suspicion among the Igbos, activated lack of people’s trust in their government and fear of similar treatment, among our business men and women who resorted to pulling out their investment from Aba to other parts of the country. Some who pulled out their business to the North and some parts of the country are now in constant fear, as they witness the destruction of their businesses and killings of fellow Igbos and family members without protection.
Glowingly, the permanent wickedness and betrayal by Senator T.A Orji to the Igbos has come to define his government and also, have giving him a dark place in the history of the Igbos as the worst Igbo Governor ever. And sure this inhuman and barbaric action of his, will be rewarded, as every reason behind his action were unjustified and unnecessary, bearing in mind that Igbo’s are one and every Nigerian is protected by law to reside and work in any of its 36 states.
It must, be noted, that aside the numerous socio-political and economic woes being faced by indigenes and non-indigenes resident in Abia state, the state is equally contending with infrastructural decay, bad road network, increasing menace of criminality and erosion, poor sanitation and life threatening diseases.
But however, of all the acknowledged problems facing the state at the moment, the people’s lack of trust and support in their government is perhaps the most dreadful and pressing. Though, the inability of elected leaders to keep to their campaign promises in other to earn the trust and respect of the electorate is not peculiar to Abia state alone, but Abia electorates after suffering neglect and deprivation in the hands of the past administration, has lost total confidence in the ability of their government to deliver on its promises to the people.
If the report heralding the news of the re-instatement of sacked non-indigenes which was placed in some national newspapers by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor is not a scam, initiated, to create the impression that the new government can keep to its campaign promises and is also determined to do away with the past administrations sadistic polices, in other to return the state to its pride of place in the southeast geopolitical zone, then the Governor needs our accolades and commendations as a son of the soil.
Needless to say, that the major surgical operation required for the resuscitation of Abia state has been the occupation of Governor Ikpeazu, since he took over the mantle of leadership, exceeding the expectations of the people of the state, to the disappointment of his die-hard critics. The worst of cynics and the best of competitors are dumbfounded by the quick and glaring recovery of socio-economic activities in the state, clearly, a complete departure from the reign of bedlam and anarchy which characterize the immediate past administration in the state.
Even, though, it is still very early in the morning to conduct a constructive assessment of the Governor Ikpeazu’s administration, but I think his ability to manage his clan’s(Ngwa people) clamour for ‘’abandon property’’ in Aba, which is hinged on the mere reason that non Ngwa indigenes has acquired and developed lands belonging to the Ngwa people and therefore these non-indigenes should leave to their states or countries of origin for them to take back their properties, as well as, how he manages the process leading to the complete re-instatement of the disengaged Abia workers, will make or mar his administration.
Calculating that, what Abia state needed, considering the acknowledged nature of Igbos as conquerors and developers of territories, to bounce back to track, is the restoration of its battered public image, rebuilding trust by treating all Nigerians resident in Abia, equitably and a focused and determined leadership which is sufficiently passionate about the unity and advancement of the Igbo cause. The Igbo cause represents the original quest of our founding fathers which is the demand for full federalism based on equity, justice and fairness.
This arrangement, if applied by the present administration would provide a fresh and holistic turn-around to the myriad of problems confronting the state. Referring specifically to prospects of regaining investors’ confidence, re-uniting and reawakening the Igbo kindred spirit, cleaning the havoc wrecked on the image of the state, achieving infrastructural renewal in the urban cities and construction of new projects by reducing the state’s recurrent expenditure and investing more funds on projects.
Also, ensuring the complete re-instatement of all non-indigenes affected by the former Governor’s disengagement policy in the state and paying backlog of salaries and arrears to those affected, as well as off- setting the pensions and gratuities of those who has reached the retirement age within the period of the crisis, would define the administration and in the long run become the selling point of the Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s administration.
Emeka Ahaneku is a public affairs commentator/analyst. He writes from Owerri, Imo state- firstname.lastname@example.org, 08038812641