Thursday, May 14, 2015

MR DREAM FOR ABIA STATE IN 2010

ABIA: YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW
 
A KEYNOTE ADDRESS PRESENTED BY CHIEF ONUOHA KALU EMEABA, SENIOR ASSISTANT REGISTRAR, VERITAS UNIVERSITY, ABUJA, CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF NIGERIA, IN A ROUNDTABLE CONFERENCE ON MOVING ABIA FORWARD, ORGANIZED BY THE HUMAN RIGHTS, JUSTICE AND PEACE FOUNDATION ON FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2010, AT THE BANQUET HALL, EMPIRE HOTELS, UMUAHIA
 
His Excellency, Dr. T. A. Orji (Ochendo)
The Executive Governor of Abia State,
HRH, King U. U. Okeh (Ugwu1)
Chairman of today's event and Sole Administrator, Crisis Control Foundation
The President, Human Rights, Justice and Peace Foundation
Able Speakers
Gentlemen of the Press
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is with joy that I share my views about Abia State in this gathering of people that I believe ought to know more about the topic, “Abia: Yesterday,Today and tomorrow, more than I. When I got the invitation for the round-table conference on moving Abia forward, I had to ponder over  my selection to give a keynote address by my good friend and brother, Comrade Chidi Nwosu and the Foundation. And when I flashed back to my profile, I became convinced that I have every reason to discus the State without apprehension. If not for anything, I am from Abia State, I had my Primary and Secondary education here in Umuahia, the Abia State capital as well as University education in Abia State University, Uturu. Also, I was the Abia State Chairman of Community Party of Nigeria (CPN) one of the political parties in Nigeria. And I practised Journalism in the State before taking up appointment as an administrator in an International University that has its Take-Off Campus in Abia State. Am I not a complete Abia man? So permit me to talk about Abia State from the beginning to the present as well as share my dreams for the State.
 
LET’S START FROM THE BEGINNING
Abia is an acronym formed from the initial letters of four geographical areas: Aba, Bende, Isuikwuato and Afikpo. The state was created on 27th August 1991 by Military fiat under General Ibrahim Babangida. It was called "God's Own State" by the founding fathers as the spirit behind the creation was good and benevolent.

Abia state goes with the slogan of God's Own State". This means that everything in the state belongs to God. The government, the masses and all available resources in the State belong to God. If this is true, the socio-economic and political events in the state, from creation, made people to believe that God created his own state and deserted it. I don't want to personally accept this statement. But it is not far from the truth.

The first civilian Governor of the State was Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, an erudite scholar who ruled for only eighteen months. There were some military governors that were imposed on the state after him. They all pilloried, destituted and pulverised the state.

In 1999, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu became the Executive Governor of the State. He ruled for eight years, from 1999 to 2007. The young and vociferous politician, who was expected to be the messiah, only reduced the state to a joke.

No wonder many political commentators described his eight years administration as disaster. It was characterised by extra-judicial killings, imposition of outrageous taxes and levies on the people, collapse of industries, decay of infrastructures. The civil service was reduced to ashes within the period. Also, Aba, which is the commercial nerve centre of the state, was turned into a refuse dump.

A question we should ask ourselves is why the man we reposed great confidence failed abysmally. The reason is obvious. Nigeria was just experimenting democracy in 1999, after a long time military rule. The young man that took up the mantle of leadership had many of the military men as his mentors. He had the military mentality where all the powers are infused on a single individual. This man carried the idea of military government to rule Abia State within the eight years, and it had adverse effect on the State.

Then came the 2007 election when Abia people were expected to seek salvation, to extricate themselves and generations unborn from the servitude of Kalu and his family. And for reasons only known to God, Dr. Kalu's man, miraculously won the election from the EFCC prison. He was like Moses, the leader of Israel that was brought up in Palace of the Egyptian Pharaoh who oppressed Israel. God knows why He went to the camp of Kalu to produce a governor that would rule the Sate.

People cried and fought to turn the table against the man that God placed in governance of the state through Kalu. His case went a long way to show that what God established, no man can pull down. However, following the means that the man that succeeded Kalu came into power in 2007, what was not in doubt was that the state would be under the control and servitude of the erstwhile governor and his family, using the incumbent as a proxy. It would be incorrect to say that the people's expectation never happened. But like Moses, God used the Governor to lead Abia people out of the shackles of the undemocratic forces. It was no easy for the governor and the people of Abia State. In the course of the struggle to liberate Abia people, the state suffered. There lack of democratic dividends.
 
This lack of democratic dividends devastated the State. The people became restive and began to show their grievance in many ways. There were cases of Kidnappings for ransom in the State. Many people fall prey to the youths that took to arms as a means of survival.  Three of our students were abducted; my Vice-Chancellor, a Priest and international scholar was abducted a few months ago, in Abia State. I also got several threats of kidnapping as the boys were calling my telephone line to inform me that they would kidnap me. In fact, these and other happenings made my brothers and me from the State a laughing stock in the University.  Actually it may not be easy because as it happened to the people of Israel, they suffered when they were going out of bondage in the hand of Pharaoh in Egypt. They even cried and preferred to stay and die in Egypt as slaves. But in the end they were able to get to the promise land.
 
ABIA AT PRESENT
The Moses of our time is Dr. T. A. Orji. He suffered to liberate the people of Abia State from the shackles of the undemocratic forces that rescinded democracy dividend. Today, Abia Governor and Abia people are no more under the control and servitude of any person or a particular family. He has finally shattered the shackles of the undemocratic forces that held the entire state captive and rescinded democratic dividends in the State. This means that the governor could take his own decisions and act in ways he feels would help him serve the State well. This is the prayer of Abia people. Let me put it in the Governor's words, “The recent event was the true manifestation of the way God wants to restore back all the years eaten by the locust and propel the development of the State to the desired promise land.”
 
We may not start enjoying the benefits of the freedom immediately. It may take a while because, when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. The political gladiators in the State who fought for power have really sheathed their swords, but the grasses are still down. It would be incorrect to say that businesses have recuperated in the State. All the organizations that left Abia due to the unfriendly environment the battle for power brought to the state are yet to come back. But I believe that with time, everything will normalize.
 
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE
 
Abia people should stop murmuring against the leader and against God. We should remember that God punished the children of Israel for rebellion against Moses. Therefore, if we continue in rebellion against the Governor and government, we might be attracting the wrath of God. Onstead of murmuring, what we should do to make Abia enjoy the full benefits of democracy and free society, is to enthrone proper representative democracy. The masses must be truly represented in all the levels of government. In the Local Government, State Government and Federal Government, only those with the peoples' mandate should be allowed to represent them. We should stop the government of selected people by a godfather. In each ward, let the Councillor be a person that is very popular and has the mandate of the people. In the State constituency, let the House of Assembly member from the constituency be the one with real mandate of the people. The same applies to the National Assembly. Popular candidates should be allowed to represent the people because they know the problems of the people they are representing.
 
The government should embark of aggressive campaign to change the norms and value of Abia people. The government should let the people know that money is not all about life. There is no short cut for making money. People should work and earn money after the work. Kidnapping for ransom is not a good way of making money; rather it causes reproach to the people. Government should lead people back to workshops to start producing Aba made goods.
 
Of course we know that there are factors that would help the people to prosper in their trades. I am not talking about religious factors, rather, the socio-economic factors that the government can afford. Think of good roads, electricity power supply, financial assistance, security and other factors that could make people to invest their money in ventures and create employment for the youths.
 
 
MY DREAM FOR THE STATE
I have a dream, my dream is that Abia will rise up to become a great State; that the freedom God has given to the State through Ochendo will be sustained. That God will bless the state with good leaders in the 2011 election. I have a dream that Abia State will have good road networks that kidnapping will be eradicated in the state and youths will be gainfully employed. Let us all come together to make Abia a great State. We can attain this by supporting Ochendo, the man that God has used to liberate the State.
 
Thank you.