POLEMICS: WHO CAN STOP IKPEAZU?
Many citizens of Abia State representing different segments of Abia society have lost any sense of hope and confidence in government in the contexts of Abia State experience. Essence of government in terms of impactful presence in affecting positively lives of Abia community has long taken ominous flight in the perceptions and understanding of respondents of opinions sampling. Consensus opinions of respondents indicate democratic governance has left Abia State worse than the State was before the advent of the present democratic dispensation from 1999-2019. The respondents expressed bitter concerns over a salient issue perceived principally as responsible for obnoxiously retarding effective and productive governance in Abia State. Though other factors were cited as responsible by the respondents for the setback Abia State has suffered in two decades of democratic governance. This singular factor is considered by the respondents to have overshadowed and overwhelmed any other factors in terms of the magnitude of negative impacts. Consensus opinion show primarily this worrisome matter is the main root of the standstill syndrome and responsible for the abysmally slow pace/no motion witnessed in Abia State in the contexts of meaningful or significant development socioeconomically.
Random sampling and assessments of two decades of democracy in Abia State resulted to vexatious debates, contentions, controversies, theories, analyses, and frightening pessimistic conclusions. Abia State according to views and conclusions of the respondents has been static and motionless in terms of concrete value added socioeconomic developmental projects. The evidence to buttress these feelings of disappointments among Abia citizenry abounds clearly within the vicinities of peer states in the South East and coterminous political jurisdictions of the South South States. Within this time frame of two decades humongous fiscal resources accrued to Abia State but in perplexing, questionable, unexplainable, and surprising circumstances what is obvious is the clear-cut mismatch in terms of the huge fiscal resource earnings/incomes and glaring evidence and absence of socioeconomic development in Abia State. The wide scale of the disparities in the contexts of revenue generated and absence of socioeconomic development are alarming contradictions.
In Abia State the outrageously poor State of systemic decay of infrastructure is hard to quantify. The situation is evident in other sectors. Majority of opinion sampling respondents strongly believe certain powerful politically influential circles are the major beneficiaries of this disgusting situation. Sampled respondents of Abia citizenry equally believe the only plausible or rational explanation aligns with the simple interpretation this situation is a systemic politically conjured, economically masterminded, motivated, coordinated and sponsored policy initiative to under-develop and plunder Abia State resources for the benefits of some political leaders irrespective of who is selected to become governor of Abia State. A governor according to the respondents is primarily regarded as the candidate and the representative of these influential enclaves of political and business associates controlling Abia State. The interpretation given to the office of the governor and any prospective occupant is to act as agent of certain entrenched interests bleeding the state to death and commandeering the common wealth of the State for selfish aggrandizements. The respondents insisted the situation is very much unlikely to change in the present dispensation and cited various logically sound arguments hard to disprove or dispute (not discussed in this piece) in terms of political gerrymandering, clandestine maneuvers and shenanigan in Abia State. More alarming and pathetic was the consensus among the respondents the sinister politically and economically motivated and sponsored policy would stretch to 2023 or even beyond, except in the event of radical change. Interestingly, the curios aspect of the opinion sampling was the respondents expressed these views independently while sampling opinions on the subject of governance in Abia State in two decades of democracy.
One outstanding and significant concept emerged on account of perceptions of sampled respondents of Abia Citizenry on the critical question of good governance. The summary simply implies politics and governance in Abia State have been converted to voodoo cult and practice. Pertinent concerns were raised by the respondents and include: why is politics and governance in Abia State totally different and not adapting to the good examples found in peer states? Why are the political elite in Abia State insensitive to the plights of fellow brothers and sisters? Why would the governor of Abia State fail to notice and replicate commendable accomplishments of counterparts in other states in Abia State? What are the peculiar barriers or impediments hindering good governance in Abia State? Why is Abia first in alphabetical order in the list of comity of 36 states and FCT in the Federation and notorious for lagging behind developmentally despite tremendous natural resource endowments and abundant human capital? This subject eminently qualifies for research by scholars.
The items on the list for considerations in the agitations for radical restructuring for Nigeria are many and reflect various contentious concerns. After much reflection on this subject, I came to the inevitable conclusion that the list would be incomplete without adding/including a critical item and element concerning Abia State specifically. In this context it has become absolutely imperative the Constitution and the National Assembly (NASS) respectively make provisions for rotations of state governors. For instance in the south east Dave Umahi and Willy Obiano can swop places for a specified time, in the same manner commissioners and permanent secretaries are rotated in ministries/office in the states. This proposition may fit into the perceived idea of radical change the respondents anticipated in the quests for paradigm shift for better governance in Abia State. Abia is not alone in this respect. Similar states in the same paralytic conditions would benefit from this special arrangement. This critical subject raises the question of galaxies of awards/honours heaped on some obviously certified non performing state governors. What are these awards/honours for? Reward/endorsement for nonperformance, cheap publicity or sycophancy? Some states have been extremely lucky in producing highly rated visionary leaders as state governors including states in the South East. In the current dispensation Ebonyi State is outstanding in this regard courtesy of energetic Dave Umahi. In a space of only four years Ebonyi State under Umahi transformed from “Siberia” to “Dubai”. Dave Umahi raised the ante in entrepreneurial leadership and provisions of socioeconomic infrastructure in Ebonyi State to the extent Ebonyi is now strongly positioned as one of the fastest growing state economies in Nigeria. The economic indicators in Ebonyi State are taking solid shape and the future is looking good and promising for Ebonyi State as a result. Before the advent of Dave Umahi, Ebonyi State was a notorious poster-state for underdevelopment and backwardness. Now Ebonyi is no more in the back waters of socioeconomic under-development. The narrative has changed beautifully. Within four years Ebonyi climbed up rapidly the rungs from the bottom to the top in rating. The greatest benefit and impact of Dave Umahi’s leadership in Ebonyi State is the deep rooted awareness and understanding created among the citizens of Ebonyi State never to accept anything less than the high standards and benchmarks set by Dave Umahi in the provisions of robust and qualitative socioeconomic infrastructure from his prospective successors.
In contrast Abia State is the antithesis of Ebonyi success story in the current dispensation of democratic governance. Abia state has steadily declined in the provisions of socioeconomic amenities and infrastructure by past and present leaderships. Whereas Abia citizenry do not enjoy such facilities unless Abians find themselves in states like Ebonyi, Anambra, Enugu, Akwa Ibom or Cross River, Abuja, Lagos, etc. It is necessary and profitable experience if Abia citizens can go on excursions to neighbouring states to have an idea of how to assess and appreciate credible leadership and performance by a governor and use same criteria to objectively measure performance and demand this from state government as a right and not favour. Dave Umahi was able to accomplish these much in four years without the benefit of extra revenues from oil royalty. Whereas in Abia State the monthly revenues accruing from oil royalty seemed to have disappeared, drained and vanished through some invisible pipelines. Sometimes one wonders if ever the monies reached Abia State. Or were simply quietly hijacked at Abuja. Or maybe mere paper allocations and declarations by the Federal fiscal agencies in Abuja. What about the internally generated revenues (IGR)? There are several mysteries and mystic explanations surrounding the mismanagement of these revenue resources.
Every month in the next four years Abians shall continue to hear about dazzling and dizzying financial figures computed in millions and billions. But would these fiscal assets be optimally utilized to develop Abia State and solve the various socioeconomic challenges confronting the citizens? The answer is buried deep in the bowls of the future at the end of the present dispensation and leadership. In two decades not one of the 17 Local Government Council Areas of Abia State can be touted as eloquent example of a beneficiary of government investment in the socioeconomic sector. In stark contrast some of the leaders of Abia State in the two decades in question are perceived or clearly known to be stupendously wealthy simply by meandering or passing through government systems at different levels including brief passage or stopover in one of the arms. The executive and the legislative organs are the hotspots for political office holders to quickly transform to Bill Gates or Dangotes.
It is very understandable though unfortunate majority of Abians have lost hope in government in Abia State. It is no secret many citizens if given the opportunity of referendum would turn out massively and vote for abolition of government on account of the manner government is negatively perceived and the manner government equally functions unimaginatively by depriving citizens the benefits and dividends of democratic leadership specifically in the contexts of two decades of unimpressive experience of Abia citizens. In Abia State government is notoriously perceived among majority of the populace as a cartel operating under official seals of state sponsored constitutionalized, instutionalized and democratized deceptions.
Notwithstanding, all hopes may not be lost. There is always a possibility of the element of surprise and unpredictability in life. Politics and the political arena are filled with possibilities and surprises. Many governors who served in these capacities in various states rode to the office on the elements of surprise. The same experience was applicable to majority of political office holders elected or appointed. Some became Senators and Senate Presidents, Honourable members of the House of Representatives/states House of Assembly and Speakers on the wings of element of surprise and possibilities.
Abia state may be a theater of political surprise and possibilities. If Dave Umahi used just four years to transform Ebonyi State rapidly, what stops Okezie Ikpeazu equaling Umahi’s record in his remaining four years? Or even surpassing all known records of highly rated performing governors? Okezie Ikpeazu might just pull a surprise to prove a point: he is not occupying the exalted office with intent to be warming the governor’s seat. What if Ikpeazu believes he has warmed the seat enough in the last four years and decides now is the time to roll up his sleeves and lace his shoes for real action? What can stop Ikpeazu if he so decides? Who can prevent Ikpeazu from writing his name in indelible gold ink if he determines to be remembered by posterity for cutting the fabled Gordian knot like Alexandra the Great? Who can stop Ikpeazu serving Abia State with honour and integrity and delete/delist Abia State from the Encyclopedia of potential economic power house and hub grappling with different phases of underdevelopment in all facets in the socioeconomic fronts.
There is only one person who can stop Ikpeazu. Ikpeazu is very much aware and conscious of whom the person is. Only Dr. Victor Okezie Ikpeazu can stop himself from shining brilliantly like millions of stars in the sky.
At this juncture, I rest my pen for next polemics.
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