By Maxwel Nwadike
September 26, 2014 – We, like every other citizen – human or corporate, were anxious and understandably excited on September 18, 2014 when the news of the release of the list of some 305 recipients of 2013/2014 national honours awards took over both the airwaves and national dailies’ front pages.
Unfortunately, our excitement was cut short by the presence of a name so obviously out of place on the list. More like a sore thumb that stuck out! Whilst we might not know the precise criteria that admit an individual into the list, we believe, quite strongly, that the essence of bestowing some special honours by government does not include celebrating mediocrity – in whatever guise.
We also recognize the temptation on the part of government in an election year to boost its popularity rating for obvious political harvest. But in doing so, we had expected the PDP-led government to exercise its discretion with some measure of circumspection. Reward for party loyalty might be a desirable practice, but when done with flagrant disregard to and indeed utter contempt for the people’s sensitivity, party well-being is inadvertently elevated above national interest – to the detriment of the common good. Yes, some have argued that Abia governor’s unparallel absenteeism from official duties just to make himself present within the precincts of Aso Rock at all times was enough “compassionate ground” to smuggle his name into the honours list. Another frantic attempt at rationalizing Gov. T.A Orji’s inclusion on the list is that his present position as chair of South East Governors Forum recommended him for that recognition.
For us, the first reason is not tenable, because decorating Governor Orji with a Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) because he has “distinguished” himself as an eye-service master is an indirect endorsement of truancy and dereliction of duty of the highest order by Aso Rock. And for those who are quick to argue that what is good for the goose should be good for the gander- given that T.A Orji’s predecessor, Mr. Peter Obi, did also bag a CON while in office, the latter’s sterling achievements in office and public conduct were in our opinion sufficient basis for him to be so decorated unlike the Abia governor. This fact at least does not need any elaboration to both Abians and Anambrarians.
Much as we agree that there is wisdom in letting Governor Orji walk home with the CON trophy on Monday, September 29th, 2014 (after all, he would be bringing it home), we surmise that there is greater wisdom in raising a voice of objection to an honour that could set a devastating precedent in the beleaguered God’s Own State. Hence, this intervention! Ours is a moral obligation to let the authorities in Abuja know the degree of injustice they are about meting out to the hapless people of Abia State. Abians have suffered unmitigated leadership deficit for seven gruelling years, and have resolved to collectively clean the Augean Stable with their votes come 2015. So, for the authorities in Abuja to turn deaf ears on the seven year-long wailings of Abians and ill-advisedly validate a man who walks the opposite direction of Federal Government’s transformation creed will be an unnecessary elongation of an abused people’s agony even beyond the Orji governorship.
Not too long ago, ex-Governor Ali Modu Sheriff was fingered as a sponsor of the cowardly activities of insurgents in the north east. While the court of public opinion grappled with the weight of that allegation, Alhaji Sheriff was spotted receiving Mr. President in Chad and quite understandably not a few tongues wagged. It took combined efforts of Mr. President’s handlers to deal with that perception emergency. With due respect, Sheriff’s was a mere yet-to-be investigated allegation and hell was almost let loose, imagine then what government detractors would do with a prize photo of Governor Orji receiving a CON from Mr. President when every Dick and Tom in Nigeria know that the latter is on bail which will be automatically vacated when his immunity elapses on May 29th, 2015! EFCC is prosecuting him in court already. The PDP-led government need not pass itself off as morally bankrupt, as the opposition would have us perceive it.
But for us, what matters to us is to call on the authorities in Abuja to refrain from dishonouring Abians who have been subjected to seven harrowing years of deprivation. A majority opinion in Abia is that Governor Orji’s nomination is Federal Government’s tacit endorsement of the deplorable state of roads in the entire Abia, particularly Aba. This notion need not be sustained. Abia should not be punished further with a national honour for a governor who builds legacy projects in the media only. Truth is that leaders who have eyes on legacies do the work whilst the people give their footprints deserved labels when they have left office. A CON for the self-styled Ochendo Global (please pause, and digest the inherent vainglory) will be sheer disdain for Abia workers who are being owed salary arrears.
Abia is in distress! The authorities should please allow the sleeping dog to lie – having resolved to wake up through the ballot box in February next year. Whoever thinks that our claims are “sponsored” or that our opinion is “politically motivated” should please ask Prince Arthur Eze what he saw and said on Abia soil when he visited the state few weeks ago – incidentally on Governor Orji’s invitation.
Last line: honouring Governor T.A Orji with a CON is a dishonour to Abians that will certainly boomerang at the appropriate time. A stitch in time, as the saying goes, saves nine!
Mr. Maxwel Nwadike is President, The Abia Awakening (TAA)