ABIA STATE: FROM APATHY TO BLESSED RESTLESSNESS10 min read
Everywhere in the state, every Abian feels like a bull that tugs relentlessly on the yoke of underdevelopment hanging over his or her neck, with the strongest determination to get freedom from the exercise of a wise choice in voting for the next governor. Abians are asking themselves; ‘Why and how did we allow this backwardness to envelop out state?’
This signals that Abians are regaining their maturity and readiness to take responsibility to re-handle the power of recognition of their own environment; the power to enquire from the government why things are constantly stagnated; and the power to question the system administration by government in order to see that it is transformed like other progressive states in Nigeria. They have taken responsibility to change the negative conditions pervading the social and economic systems in their own lives, which has weakened them economically, and disadvantaged them in the scheme of progressive development of states in the nation.
Now, every heart in Abia State has subscribed to the wisdom to exercise the right choice in voting for the next governor of the state. This open mindful struggle to change Abia leaves everyone impassioned and mentally energized, to be alert and tear-off the wool of bondage and captivity without hesitation or discouragement from the hands of the oppressive ruling party. Thus, every talk in the corners of towns and cities of the state heighten the political excitement and expectations from this purposeful pursuit, that is anchored on the strongest desire to see the race to the government house as well run and finished with the right choice of the majority of voters.
This development is re-awakening the consciousness of the people of Abia State to the imperative for good governance in the next democratic dispensation, and has generated a renewed commitment of the people to thoroughly assess the quality of leadership, so as to adjudge the depth of visionary excellence in the life and mission of the next governor for the state.
If Abians are asking for a change, a change doesn’t just happen. It must be made to happen. And to make things happen, Abians are courageously asking questions about the credentials and competence of the next governor. The people have no revolution in their mind, but the repetitiveness and tenacity attached to their questions are enough to produce the thunderbolt hurtling to revolutionize results in the coming elections. The realization has made the battle for the choice of the next governor to be subjected to prudential scrutiny for all gubernatorial candidates, in order to pick the candidate to anoint by popular voting as the next governor of the state.
The social media has largely helped to sensitize the public, by political awareness and mass mobilization of shared opinions across friendship profile pages, on the need to participate in good governance of the state. This development categorically explains the shift in the mood of Abians from political passivity to blessed restlessness, as all Abians begin to participate in the daily search for the best choice as the next governor of the state.
At the moment, debates are raging in the social networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), content websites/blogs (www.slideshare.net, etc.), video-photo sharing sites (Youtube, Vimeo, etc.), and online newspaper publishing platforms (www.elombah.com, www.dailypost.com, www.premiumtimes.ng, etc.). But the disappointment we are facing is that most of these debates fall far below expectations in addressing topical issues in Abia Gubernatorial Election, and in providing reliable data and information about voters’ opinions and preferences in Abia State.
Therefore, the consistent glamour that must pervade the minds of the people of Abia State, now, is that each gubernatorial candidate must properly articulate his intentions, strategies, actions and plans for rebuilding Abia State in a realistic manifesto that portends a future of change in governance along the following lines:
· Accountability and transparency in governance, including the prudent management of public funds and the restoration of elected Local Government Chairmen to run the third tier of Government as provided in the constitution of the country.
· Access to free education at all levels.
· Employment for all (youths, graduates, men, women, etc.).
· A developed-strong-and-well-managed state economy.
· Rebuilding of critical infrastructure (transportation, roads, drainages, electricity, energy, water supply systems, sanitation, education, etc.)
· Diversification of the state economy from oil-dependency to successful agricultural revolution and exportations.
· Business empowerment and entrepreneurship development.
· And improved standard of living for all residents of Abia State.
These are the main social and economic challenges that the next governor will face in Abia, and must, therefore, as a candidate in the coming gubernatorial election, propound tenable strategies to the solutions of these challenges, to enable the people know what the candidate plans to do differently and realistically to enlist the collective confidence of Abia voters in a shared future posterity, without mortgaging the future of the state in multilateral debts.
Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu (PDP GOVERNORSHIP CANDIDATE)
Most voters I have encountered and interacted with in Abia State are not thinking about the details in the printed manifestoes of governorship contestants. They do not bother to be drawn into the realities of the concrete measures that each candidate has prescribed as solutions to the problems bedeviling the state. They find it cumbersome to trace the differences in the outlines of these manifestoes. But they do think and openly express a common resolution that those who governed the state for the past 16years must have to go. This is a shared “vote of rejection for the ruling party-the PDP”.
Collectively Abians, now, wear the spirit of revolt against the status quo. From activists to revolutionaries and political agitators, they have joined forces to seek liberation from the political exclusion of the ruling party’s economic oppression and depravity. The PDP, which has disrespected the wishes and sensibilities of the people of Abia State, should know that the people have taken possession of their high horses from which they now conduct a new democratic march, assailing everyone’s ears in the state with the homilies about the critical need for restoration of accountability and transparency in the governance of Abia State. The people seem to all say: ‘PDP is not for eternity in Abia State; a change is inevitable; the tables of impunity and maladministration in Abia State must be turned’.
Although the PDP candidate, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, is seen by Abians as a metamorphosis of the vested interests of corrupt PDP elites and stakeholders – whose strength and viciousness in manipulating the resources of the state are not in doubt, he has earmarked some lofty programs to remodel the state, but can the sober experiences of the past and present which agitated Abians into revolutionary mindsets be easily wiped out by the Ikpeazu Campaign promises?
Although, iIn the past few days, the Ikpeazu campaign had secured the advantage of political realignment of support from four (4) opposition political parties, including a faction of APGA under its authentic state chairman, the greatest advantage that the Ikpeazu campaign train possesses and exploits is “the long time established and entrenched party structure of the PDP” in the seventeen (17) Local Government Areas of Abia State. This is the potent instrument which the PDP has just successfully used in the concluded Presidential and National Assembly Elections in Abia State.
However, the PDP candidate is truly carrying the cross of a peaceful revolution in Abia State, “a tremendous and tenacious voter rage”, and only the Almighty God can help him secure victory as a miracle!!!
Dr. ALEX OTTI (APGA GOVERNORSHIP CANDIDATE)
In most towns in Abia State, the youths speak of Alex Otti in glowing terms that imbue him with the charisma that he loves so dearly to possess. His popularity among the youths is based on purchased media affections from daily doses of radio jingles and untenable perceptions about how people think of him as an accomplished banker with the magical wand, capable of solving all socio-economic problems in Abia State.
Alex Otti is known to have mustered his personal cash provisions and a huge chest of campaign donations, reflecting the deluge of widespread endorsements of his candidacy by influenced royal fathers, political stakeholders and his community of business friends, who have all muscled their big arms to give his campaign the great momentum it dearly needs. The euphoria is high among his large pool of supporters who express widespread optimism that he might emerge victorious in the gubernatorial election.
In this way, Alex Otti has begun, and advanced, to behold this charisma with the ordinary minded people in Abia State, as an outstanding and important person offering his expertise to govern Abia State. But this perception is not so much of a reality, as Alex Otti has no public record to have done anything outstanding in the society as to make him influential to become a charismatic social magnet. That makes one wonder sometimes if his charisma is “Indian made”.
This observation is well known to the elites and other discerning minds in Abia State, upon whom he has not imprinted his charisma on their subconscious minds. This has made his political campaign messages to be seen as much too equivocal to be absorbed hook and tinker.
One can correlate this analysis with the facts that when you check out his manifesto, Alex Otti simply has an outline of his campaign manifesto printed in moderately circulated calendars that say: ‘Think’, ‘Abia First’, where he tacitly goes on to reveal his intentions to reconstruct, rebuild and reposition Abia State, without providing the intricate details of these lofty intentions, from where he can be drawn and examined on his concrete strategies and measures to realize these dreams. Otti’s reluctance to set out a comprehensive and clarified campaign programme reflects his now well-known helter-skelter nature and desperate personality, as one who ambitiously wants to rise to the seat of governance, even if he has to do so by sentimental propaganda.
Dr. Nyerere Chinenye Anyim (APC Governorship Candidate)
The APC Governorship Candidate in Abia State, Dr. Nyerere Chinenye Anyim, appears to be more forward-looking as an innovative thinker. He has a richer and more believable agenda, which he supports with strategies for their successful implementations. This makes his manifesto to be tempered with practicality.
He has promised to be profoundly resourceful in harnessing and nurturing the natural and human resources of the state for the wider good of the people through economic growth.
The whole government development process that he envisages for Abia State is guided by his agenda for change – my path with the people – an agenda he believes is what Abians expect him to implement to develop the state for the greater welfare of all. He has a clear manifesto, abridged below, which addresses the key issues of education, health care, corruption, job creation, industrial development, diversification of the state economy, and the revitalization of the manufacturing sector; as the main sector that can generate the desired employment opportunities for all:
· The free and compulsory education to all levels.
· The strengthening of the state economy.
· The diversification of the economy through agricultural revolution and exportation of agro-industrial products.
· The boosting of internally generated revenue and closing of all loop holes for embezzlement of public funds.
· The institution of accountability and transparency in the management of public funds.
· The rebuilding of all critical infrastructures.
· The building of brand new cities in Abia State to end emigration and urban congestion.
· The restructuring of Aba and Obuaku into a a new metropolitan city.
· The dredging of a Seaport at Ugah to link the Atlantic Ocean and open up coastal trading in Abia State.
· The massive industrialization and attraction of foreign investments in Abia state.
· Solid minerals deposits in all zones of the state will be duly tapped to prop the state economy.
· And the provision of a total solution to the general unemployment situation in the state.
· Zero tolerance for corruption.
These are all components of the Nyerere Agenda for Change in Abia State. Electing Nyerere Chinenye Anyim as the next governor of Abia State on his campaign promises to fight corruption to a zero tolerance level, and run the state economy like a profitable business, may be the stunning electoral sensation that Abians need to exhibit to produce the change they are yearning for.
Therefore, voters in Abia State need to strategically reposition their political alignment to confirm with the imperative that a bandwagon motivation swayed by Buhari’s victory will give the APC candidate the leading votes in the governorship election. Moreover, this is a more sensible strategy to adopt when Abians realize that the President-Elect has continuously emphasised that he will not, also, tolerate corruption as soon as he assumes office, and the first step he will take is to immediately put on hold all negotiations regarding securing of foreign loans by state governments, which sounds like a death knell on the development project funding plans by the other faction of APGA Gubernatorial Candidate: Alex Otti.
Nyerere’s campaign momentum seems to have been strongly lifted by the presence of the President-elect, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, who flew to Imo State on Tuesday to enjoin Ibos to vote for the APC in the Governorship Election, and the decamping of PPA stakeholders to APC in Owerri the same day. His chances of victory at the Governorship Polls are brighter now than for the rest of the opposition candidates.