OPEN LETTER TO ABIA'S EX-GOVERNOR, ORJI
Dear Governor T A Orji,
By the time this letter is brought to your attention you must have vacated or about to vacate the Government house in Umuahia as the Governor of Abia state after 8 years of misrule and incompetence.
It was Shakespeare who once wrote that “the evil that men do lives after them’. It is my wish and I believe that of millions of Abia citizens both at home and here in diaspora that the evil you perpetrated and unleashed on the people of that state continue to follow you wherever you go and that you be constantly reminded by everyone you meet or associate with of what you did. It is also in that light that I am writing this letter so that it will be a constant reminder to you and to generations unborn that there was once a Governor like you who raped his state of its resources and finances and left it bankrupt, underdeveloped and ghetto like.
For those who might want to question my competence to write about you as well as evaluate your performance as governor by virtue of the fact that I live in New York, I want them to know that I did not only do my due diligence about you and your tenure as governor, I also took the time to visit your state and my home state of Abia ( God’s own state) , which you conveniently turned to ‘the devil’s own domain’, but nothing I read or heard prepared me for what I saw. All the same I learned a lot about you and the havoc you unleashed on the people of the state. I also came to agree with those who have consistently referred to you as “ the worst Governor globally’.
Having visited the Enyimba city of Aba during my visit, the glorified village called Umuahia and having travelled through the dilapidated road from Aba to Arochukwu and a few other places, I immediately came to the realization that you did more than enough damage to earn that title. So when recently I read about a thanksgiving service organized in your honor in Umuahia during which you were reported to have asked for forgiveness from the citizens of the state for offenses committed against them which you attributed to the difficulty you had in making hard decisions, I began to wonder, what was difficult about making the decision to fix the roads in Aba, provide adequate healthcare, modernize our schools, pay workers salaries and pensions, provide basic social infrastructure and youth employment, rebuild our roads and above all protect and safeguard the state’s finances? The irony in your comment is that leadership is all about making tough decisions. The question is, why didn’t you resign if you thought the job of Governor and governance was beyond your abilities and your pay scale?
What irks me even more after reading your request for forgiveness is the fact that as usual the man of God, the Archbishop of Aba, Ecclesiastical province of the Anglican church and Bishop of Umuahia diocese Ikechi Nwosu, who is supposed to always say the truth stood before that audience as a sycophant and without shame proclaimed that you Governor Orji would be remembered for your patience and the development you brought to the state. He even went further to claim that apart from the infrastructural development, you brought peace, security, healthcare and youth empowerment . Which begs the question , what planet does he reside on? This to me was the height of sycophancy. That priest should not only be disrobed for lying, he has in my opinion brought dishonor, distrust and shame to the fraternity of priesthood. But then , it has to be expected since I am told you make periodic financial contribution from the coffers of the state to members of the clergy.
As you leave office I wonder if you have any idea or appreciation of the amount of damage you are leaving behind, what governance was all about or how deeply the Abia people dislike you. The atrocities you committed during your tenure are so many that i wouldn’t know where to start , what to include or what to leave out. While other state Governors assumed office with set goals of what they planned to achieve during their term, you on the other hand entered office with evident agenda of enrichment. We are well aware that wealth and politics have never been strange bedfellows and that for people like you the salary cap of public service was irrelevant. Even though in Nigeria the path from public service to private riches is well trodden you took an unusually aggressive and expansive approach to stealing money. People like you who raised their hands and swore to public service in their self congratulatory parlance are usually not at peace with the economic humility that the phrase connotes. For you, public service was a fig leaf over private cupidity and a prelude to a lucrative payday you counted on.
Your 8 years in office was one of avarice, acquisitiveness and a resistance to living within the financial boundaries of elected office. Your stay in office was a discomfiting spectacle and a dissonant one. Yours was a combination of cluelessness and incompetence. Under your administration, corruption was created and nurtured in every level of government, whereby it became part of the culture. You ignored checks and balances and ruled by exercising a vast system of patronage. Under your reign the integrity of the state institutions were systematically corrupted and compromised. You conveniently turned the state House of assembly into a chamber of yes men, business enterprise and parliamentary bazaar.
The Abia state Assembly according to one Nigerian writer could better be described as a House of Trade and commerce hence assemblymen traded support and silence for financial favors. You also politicized the civil service , turning permanent secretaries and your temporary local government chairman into polling and collation officers , while judicial appointments were given to party chieftains. As a consequence the people were left to the mercy of your administration whose rules were murky and remedies to problems at best costly and unpredictable. You demanded and collected all kinds of taxes, levies and fees with nothing to show for them. You appropriated all the security allocation money for your personal use and of course that of the local government councils, hence you did not conduct any local government elections during your 8 year reign. Instead of providing jobs for our teaming youths ,you collected one thousand naira each from over 40,000 unemployed youths for non existent job positions. Your way of empowering our youths was to lease tricycles or keke to them and consequently turning some of them into your touts to use during the just concluded elections.
With regards to the Enyimba city of Aba, you let a promising commercial decay by criminally neglecting it. In the pretense of fixing some of their roads, you dug them up and abandoned them leaving them worse than they were. You increased a thousand fold the school fees of all the state higher institutions and yet owed their parents salaries and pensions. Which begs the question, where did you expect them to get the money for the increased fees? .Anyone who dare criticize or condemn your administration was placed on an enemy list to be eliminated. In 8 years your government collected over I trillion naira from the federation account and yet you are leaving the state with enormous debt.
In your 8 years in office what merged was as expected the tyranny of the state. Yours was a moral less gang of people mistakenly called Abia state government. It is therefore accurate to say that Abia state during your 8 years in office was neglected, ransacked, robbed ,and abandoned. Your rule was one of not only widespread bureaucratic corruption alongside administrative inefficiency but also ineptitude and outright failure. You were a self aggrandizer and self perpetuator who subverted and debauched every key institution to serve your need, that of your son and your family. In so doing you muzzled the press , bought over or silenced all the Abia elites and in an attempt to cover your misdeeds rigged your party’s primaries and the general election so that you will replace yourself with a stooge who will cover your stench. Unfortunately the Ngwa people believe you were doing them a favor when you picked one of their son’s who in my opinion though a good man is considered guilty by association and to say the least not equal to the job.
It does not matter which social science model is used in studying corruption in your administration, yours was simply a classic example and proof positive that corruption sands the wheels of development. Despite the billions of Naira received during your administration, isn’t it most unfortunate and unforgiving that you will be leaving behind your real legacy of not paying the salaries of the following state workers, namely, State teaching Hospital 9 months, Hospital management Board 8 months, Abia Polythecnic 5 months, Abia State Universal education Board 6 months and local Government Councils 3 months. Yet your Commissioner of Finance had the guts to lie during a recent interview that you were leaving the state in a sound financial footing.
All key attributes of governance as clarified by the United Nations Committee on Human Rights , namely Transparency, responsibility, Accountability and Participation were all lacking in your 8 years as governor. Your bad governance did not only result in huge loss in economic growth, it also affected human capital, resources and ingenuity. It also deterred investments and flight of investors. Right and wrong is not supposed to be confusing. There is no blur line in it, but when corruption is established by corruptors and becomes part of the culture there is no clear line between the two.
As you leave office we say good riddance. History will forever judge you as the man who came in from jail as Governor and left it worse than he found it. Posterity will judge you as the Governor who stood by and watched the city of Aba decay and regress from the bustling commercial power house it once was to a ghetto town. The Abia people will remember you as the man without conscience. A deceitful man who is so evil that even the late senator Chukwumerije left a standing instruction not to allow you or any of your representative at his burial ceremony . Hopefully you will be denied entry into the senate by the now sitting tribunal because you are not deserving to be called a senator.
With your exit and the reversal of Ikpeazu’s stolen mandate in favor of the peoples governor and their choice Dr Alex Otti, real change will finally come to Abia state. The change we need and expect can only come through a new beginning with a change in leadership. We need a new leader like Dr Otti who will bring more attention to national and international efforts that will help ensure that Abia remains inherently global in its outlook. We hope for a state where our people will think, work, and live without boundaries, situating their ideas and their aspirations in the broadest context possible and the cosmopolitan and entrepreneurial spirit present from Aba’s earliest days enlivened for all to imagine and see. It is my personal wish and I am sure the wish of many Abians that you live a life of obscurity, regret, sorrow , pain and rejection in retirement for all the damage you did the people of Abia and even if by some divine intervention you repent your sins and ask God for forgiveness , satan will file an appeal asking God to reconsider granting you entry into heaven on the grounds that your sins are so enormous that your place should be in hell.
Written by Nnanna Ijomah , a former Special Assistant to Chief Emeka Ojukwu and a New York City based Political Science lecturer.