By Mark Mbam Jnr
THE story of the current leadership of Abia State is not far from the one presented by a renowned English poet, Thomas Sterne Eliot, in his poem:
The Journey of the Magi.
The poem is based on the theme in the Bible; it is full of religious feeling. The visit of the three wise men from the East to Palestine at the time of Christ’s birth has been described in a very realistic way. The wise men started their journey in the extreme cold of the winter to reach the place of Christ’s birth to give presents to him. In the course of their journey, they forced hardship. But in spite of the hardship, they continued their journey throughout the night. On the way, they did not get shelter and food, the snowy way made their camel tired. The hostility of the people they met on their way was also very heart-touching.
This shows that those hostile people lacked far-sightedness about the importance of Christ’s birth. In the course of the wise men’s journey, they saw a temperate valley with natural vegetation and beauty which ameliorated their plight. This means that in spite of the hardship which they had passed on their way, there were hopes that their journey would after all be fruitful.
Eliot, in his poem, noted that the sounds of the stream and water-mill and smell of vegetation were very pleasant to the Magi. The concluding part of the poem reveal that the Magi finally reached their destination and offered their presents to Christ.
Eliot was only emphasizing that the birth and death of Christ were different from those of the common people. According to him, His birth was hard and bitter for the human race. He was crucified for the redemption of humanity from sin and bondage.
The gain of the journey is the affirmation of the belief that for a spiritual rejuvenation, the overcoming on the sensual aspect of life is essential.
Like Elliot’s story in that poem, the journey of Abia State governor, Dr. Victor Okezie Ikpeazu, since May 29, 2015, “started in the extreme cold of the winter” to reach the present destination. Shortly after he was declared winner of the 2015 governorship election in the state, he faced hardship occasioned by a litany of legal bottles. But in spite of the battles, Ikpeazu and his lieutenants, like the Magi, continued their journey throughout the night. On their way to salvage the people of Abia from the chequered history of underdevelopment, again, like the Magi ,”they did not get shelter and food”.
At a point in the long period of political deprivation, “the snowy way made their camels tired”. But, this time, unlike the experiences of the Magi, the people of Abia rallied round their governor and stood by him in all intents and purpose. This strengthened the Ikpeazu’s “camel” and the journey continued.
What then should be the “temperate valley, the sounds of the streams and watermills and smell of vegetation which were very pleasant to the Magi” in Abia? Of course the answer is not far – fetched. To Ikpeazu, the economic growth and stability of the state is, no doubt, the “temperate valley” and the green vegetation which gave hope to the Magi in the course of their journey. “I have no doubt that our aggressive drive towards revitalising the economy of Abia through the promotion of made in Aba Goods will put food on the table of many Abians”, he said.
Diagnosis of the Abia problem
Two years after Ikpezua assumed office as governor, the story of Abia has changed positively given the unprecedented infrastructural development in Aba, the commercial nerve centre of the state.
The achievements take our memory back to what a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, said about the governor when he played host to Ikpeazu shortly after he was elected governor in his Enugu residence.
“I have seen the potentials and I would do anything you want me to do to help you succeed in Abia. Aba is a very important town to every Ndi Igbo because there is no Igbo family that does not have link to Aba. You have the clarity of vision and you have also done a thorough diagnosis of the Abia problem that alone tells me that you have the capacity to reposition Abia and make Igbo land great again”, Soludo had said at that time.
The sole objective of the Magi in their journey was to reach Christ’s birth place to offer him their present and this was why in spite of the hardship they faced as described by T. S. Elliot, they were focused, determined and resilient. And if you ask Ikpeazu on why he has been able to remain focused, notwithstanding the political distraction, he has faced over the past two years, he would tell you: “I have a dream to make Abia a better place for Abians”. One would wonder then where he drew his inspiration from. A search into Ikpeazu’s mind makes it clear that the governor is conversant with the words of Frank A. Clark who once said, “If you found path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere”.
One thing very significant in the lives of mortals is the dissertation of one in time of challenges. This lends credence to the facr that failure is an orphan but success has so many relatives. But to Ikpeazu, the way the people of Abia, both big and small, male and female, rallied round him in the time of his legal travails leaves no one in doubt that he was indeed elected by the people.
In recounting Ikpeazu’s tremendous achievements in Abia, there is nothing wrong in saying that the co-operation he has been getting from his lieutenants and other arms of government is the secret behind the Ikpeazu success story.
The legislature has not be found wanting in the Abia project. Since its inception in June 2015, the state House of Assembly has passed over eleven bills into law aimed at promoting the well-being of the citizenry. The bills include Abia State Public/Private Partnership and Investment Promotion Law to create the enabling environment for private sector participation in driving the economic growth in the State.
The law is in some with Ikpeazu’s vision to revitalise commercial activities in Aba. The House also passed into law, the Abia State Marketing Agency law, Abia State Abattoir Establishment and Regulation law among others.
Because no commercial activities can thrive in an unsecured and hostile environment, Abia State House of Assembly also amended the Abia Security Fund Law targeted at purchase more crime-fighting equipment especially he ones for tracking down suspected criminals.
The Majority Leader of the state House of Assembly, Chief Chinedum Orji, is one man history cannot forget in a hurry for his impactful contributions on the floor of the parliament.
Apart from the humour created by his artistic choice of words, his charisma, and intelligence portrays him as truly the Majority Leader of the House. In deed a close look at the importance of the bills so far passed by the legislature will leave one with a clear picture of the cordial relationship between the executive and the legislature in their common struggle for the development of Abia.
One thing that is prevalent in African politics is the destructive syndrome which has blindfolded many politicians thus making it impossible to distinguish between constructive and destructive opposition.
Unfortunately, Nigerian politicians in opposition have vehemently refused to come to terms with the fact that the opposition must be magnanimous enough to agree with the governing party on issues or areas where the governing party has excelled.
Today, it is the use of the “dog” to catch the cat or chase the cat away and the use of the cat to catch the rat or chase the rat away or else either the dog or the cat becomes the meat. A situation where institutions such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) are portrayed as “dogs” to chase the “cat” or ‘cat’ to chase the ‘rat’ or else become meat themselves is both thought and tear provoking.
Although this is not to say the anti-graft agencies should not perform their statutory functions, they should not throw away the objective of establishing them on the altar of personal or pay master service.
A case in point is the second to second, minute to minute, hour to hour and day to day harassments of some of the officials of the Abia government by the anti-graft agencies. This may be targeted also of distracting and running down the state administration.
There is nothing wrong with the agencies employing the made of operation as stipulated by the laws establishing them in the discharge of their duties instead of resorting to commando style that is not in the best interest of the tenets of democracy.
Now that the Abia legal battles are over, it is expected that the Ikpeazu administration is given a breathing space to deliver its campaign promises to the people ahead of its third year in office. It is also expected that the governor’s ‘no victor no vanquished’, position is embraced by all stakeholders in the interest and well being of Abia.