There Abians go again

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, Senator Theodore Orji
, Senator Theodore Orji

The continued media siege on Abia is futile, writes Ethelbert Okere

Poor Abia State, the media siege laid on it by some of her illustrious sons recorded yet another casualty recently, in the person of Mr. Stanley Ohajuruka, a former Speaker of the state House of Assembly. Mr. Ohajuruka had an interview published in some newspapers recently in a style and language which even the uninitiated knew was packaged to continue with the siege.

In the introduction of the interview, one of the newspapers claimed that the ex-speaker spoke to “…select journalists in the state…” Those who know the trick know it is the language used for syndicating interviews that are meant to achieve a pre-meditated objective. In this case, it is to continue the media attack on the immediate past governor of the state, Senator T.A. Orji, howbeit using the voice of a new recruit. However, let us see what Ohajuruka had to say.

Asked of his impression on the performance of the incumbent governor in 100 days, Mr. Ohajuruka replied thus: “There is no impression. They still have vestiges of the former administration around. The only time we will begin to assess Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s administration is when the vestiges of his predecessor have left it… in one of my interviews, I advised Ikpeazu to be his own man and think independently. I understand Ikpeazu is an intellectual. As a result of his status, he is not expected to be dependent on anybody. He has no reason to rely on his predecessor, who has nothing to show for his eight year administration of the state”.

Those familiar with the story of the media siege on Abia State would quickly acknowledge that Ohajuruka is acting the same script as those who initiated it. But fortunately and unfortunately, the ex-speaker perhaps inadvertently touched on the core of what led to the media siege for which he has now been recruited. In talking about “vestiges” and the need for the incumbent governor “to be his own man and think independently… ”, Mr. Ohajuruka was bringing to the fore the root cause of the quarrel between Senator Orji and his predecessor, His Excellency, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu.

Assuming, as Ohajuruka claims, but without conceding, that Governor Ikeazu is taking orders from Senator Orji, then what Ohajuruka has merely succeeded in saying is: “My fellow Abians, there we go again” Pray, was it not in a bid by Governor T.A. Orji to be his own man and think independently that he ran into problems with Dr. Kalu?. Where was Ohajuruka, who had held the third (in fact, the second) most powerful position in the state, then?

Up till this moment, the debate is still on as to who between the two is more recalcitrant: T.A. Orji, who became an “ingrate” after Kalu had brought him from prison and single-handedly (so the story goes) installed him as governor; or the latter who, having contributed to the emergence of T.A. as governor, was bent on running the government from outside? The answer to this question, though not the concern of this article, is well known to keen observers of the Abia imbroglio. But either way, the damage on the state has been incalculable.

Among other things, it is the reason Ohajuruka is today recruited for the media siege on a state he is supposed to be a leading light; and the reason Governor Ikpeazu is getting flaks from the likes of Ohajuruka, who is merely mouthing the regrets of his principal(s) on the emergence of the former, over their own preferences. Even if the governor had paved the streets of Umuahia with gold in his first 100 days in office, it will still be no dice for Ohajuruka and his co-travellers. I can bet that if the former speaker is interviewed again after two years from now, he will still return a “no impression” verdict on Governor Ikpeazu.

This is the worry of many friends of Abia, including this writer: The fixation over the governance of the state may never seize until, perhaps the assailants have had their way. There is a saying in my native parlance which goes like this: anybody who sees a fowl marching on human dung should chase it away because nobody knows whose lot it will be to eat its feet.

Now, T.A. Orji, who cried loud and almost alone over the alleged penchant of his predecessor to breathe down on him, is out of office and, going by the insinuations of Mr. Ohajuruka, is even having his own field day. Perhaps if Ohajuruka, who has been a key player in the politics of the state, had played the role expected of people like him – by standing by T.A. when he was struggling to free himself from the “vestiges” of Dr. Orji–, he will not be saying what he is saying today about Governor Ikpeazu.

But that is where the benefit of doubt stops for Ohajuruka. His vestiges theory does not hold water. It is a mere platitude to express the frustrations of the interest he represents over the fact that T.A. Orji, as governor, superintended over a smooth transition and has remained friendly with the administration he midwifed. By the corresponding period in 2007, a quarrel had already arisen between the governor and his predecessor over who should run the state.

Perhaps, Ohajuruka and the interest he represents are not happy that that is not the situation today, hence, his vestiges theory. But Abians know better. Regardless of the media siege on their state by some of their own sons, Abians know who among those who had presided over their affairs in the recent past  showed more tolerance and a greater flair for maintaining peace and political harmony in the state.

Ohajuruka himself is a student of the acrimony, high-handedness and impunity that once characterised the Abia polity, especially during the period he had a stint as Speaker of the state House of Assembly. Elsewhere, those who had occupied such an elevated position now operate at a higher pedestal, beyond being the megaphone of a clique that wants to hold their own people to perpetual ransom.

It is curious that of all issues that are of current concern to both his state and the country as a whole, Ohajuruka finds it convenient to regurgitate what some frightened reporters in a section of the media have turned into a past time. The T.A. Orji bashing among reporters in the payroll of the commanders of the army of occupation in Abia is one which every well-meaning Nigerian has condemned, for the damage it is causing on both the collective image of the (journalism) profession and Abia State itself.

Reading though Ohajuruka’s interview was like reading one of the jaundiced and childish articles churned out daily by some of the reporters, who have been blackmailed and intimidated by their principals into standing the ethics of their profession on its head.

  • Okere wrote from Owerri, Imo State

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