By Chief. Obi Aguocha.
It is said, that no man chases rats when his house is on fire. The story of Abia State, since the advent of the 1999 democratic experiment has been a tale of distractions and woes. It appears we have perfected a habit of going two steps forward and ten steps backwards.
From a citizenry that has surrendered its mandate as the custodians of power to a political class that has sworn to eternal enmity with the masses, Abia State continues to evolve, erroneously, in hopelessness and pains.
Among the last group of Southern States of Akwa Ibom, Delta, Ebonyi and Ekiti, created by the duo of Generals, Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha regimes, Abia State, even with all her natural and human capital endowments is comfortably snoring in the back seat, while her contemporaries are climbing the ladder of accelerated development and implementing comprehensive policy strategies that promotes faster growth and poverty reduction and at the same time, positioning themselves for national and international fiscal standards and sustainability.
Aba which ranks with Lagos, Onitsha and Kano, among other west African cities as key drivers of passive economic development, is still constrained by infrastructural deficit even in the face of the notable footprints of the present administration at bringing that city to roar back to its fullest potentials.
To delve into educational and agricultural developments and perhaps other indicators that mark our progress as a State, would barely dent the fundamental challenges of underdevelopment and on structural reforms to improve the efficiency and efficacy of governance, especially, when compared with her peer States.
In the midst of all these, the Abia political elites are again presently occupied with another distraction, “WHOSE TURN” it should be to produce the next governor. The frenzy is catching on. Nocturnal meetings are going on, the driving agenda of these gatherings is perhaps “IT IS OUR TURN TO PLUNDER AND EAT” the golden pie.
While citing the Abia Charter of Equity as their enabler, everything except a program for the wholesome development, sound macroeconomic policies and more transparent and better ideas for managed reforms, to address the daunting economic and social challenges of Abia state is being brought to the table to attain this subterranean zonal objectives.
For the avoidance of doubt, I am plainly not against zoning.
It clearly delivers some democratic justice and instills confidence in the interface of our various diversities. But, have we not lost sight of the fact that the underpinning philosophy of zoning is to ensure an inclusive and overall development of the entire Abia realm for the benefit of all, while also ensuring justice, fairness and equity. Zonal arrangements must therefore remain a means, not an end in itself.
The danger of missing this message is evident in the development indices of northern Nigeria in comparison to the south.
The revelation of this question is that, what drives development is not just who or which zone wields power but the planned, visionary, focused and compassionate deployment of power for the good of all.
The danger of this convenient zonal leverage is that it has in the past led to situations where it is rightly or wrongly perceived, that the Abia Government-House and state Civil Service were offshoots of the Igbere cum Bende axis indigenes during the, Orji Uzo Kalu administration, and an Ibeku all comers affair during the, T. A. Orji tenure and presently, an Ngwa axis only affair under the Okezie Ikpeazu’s watch.
The harvest of this sad and needless perceptions can only be a divided citizenry, a politicised and weak bureaucracy that facilitates covert denials of citizens expectations, an internally divided political leadership, where government policies are at all times, viewed with mutual suspicions.
Clearly, there is a problem and an inherent abuse with the present schemes for power based on zonal clusters that are riding on corruption and inefficiencies which have left Abia State in the back waters of yesterday’s tide.
What Abia needs as leaders today, are statesmen not clansmen. Abia’s troubles are traceable to clansmen presenting themselves as statesmen.
Again, in all this “IT IS OUR TURN, IT IS THEIR TURN” going around, there is a big misinformation and misrepresentation in the mix. The Abia Charter of Equity has to all intents and purposes served the three Senatorial Zones.
But where is the order of precedence or sharing arrangement on which we determine now, who power should go to? The fact that particular zones got served first, second or third by happenstance does not constitute a mutually agreed protocol that it should continue or rotate in that order. It can only mean that the stage is open to all, for fresh engagements.
The manner of this fresh engagement is my concern. The modus operandi must not be on parochial sentiments, lest we miss our ways again and rob Abia State the benefit of great leadership for another eight years.
We must not engage with the mindset of yesterday. We must not in a frenzy to satisfy zonal sentiments recycle the same unpatriotic, corrupt and failed drivers of our yesterday’s dreams. Finally, we must do away with the nepotistic and clannish tendencies that are driving the ongoing zonal aggregations.
Abia, is in dire need of statesmen now to harness her potentials and navigate her back to the comity of economically viable and development focused states in Nigeria. Abia more than ever now, needs helmsmen to navigate her boat back into the waters of greatness and not zonal activists.
Abia, should be on the hunt for truly effective and committed leaders who have deep temperament for service and an appetite for transparent revenue management and total transformation of the state.
The Abia political class owe it to posterity to ensure that this goal is not lost in this zonal outcry.
?Chief Aguocha holds the traditional title of: Ogwumabiri Umuahia and Udo Ji Agu-Ohuhu.