Governor Theodore Ahamefula Orji(Ochendo Global) has become the fall guy when the matter is about bad governance. Those who hold a negative opinion about the governor’s performance will always point fingers to Aba, the commercial nerve center of Abia State and the Southeast in general. Aba roads are death traps, no doubt. Also the larger than life attitude of his son, Engineer Chinedu Orji (Ikuku) has further added to the notoriety of the Abia Governor. As much as I agree that Governor T.A Orji has not lived up to the expectations of majority of Abia people, I will not join the uninformed mob who sing gory songs about the Ibeku born Governor being the worst Governor in Nigeria. The media aides and apologists of my Governor have taken the criticism of the Abia governor as a pastime, by painting a picture of Abia as a State in dire need of help, and its citizens forlorn and helpless as a consequence of bad governance. These people have also gone ahead to portray their principal; Owelle Rochas Okorocha as a messiah and a master role model in good governance. Forget the noise and the histrionics, forget the cosmetics and the media whitewashes, Ochendo is certainly better than my Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha. I am going to attempt convincing the open minded about this by comparing both governors based on verifiable indices of good governance, vis a viz; human capital development, health sector development, education and infrastructural development. I should expect everyone who is enlightened enough to readily recall the security situation in Aba and Abia State in general when Governor T.A took office, and how he has been able in alliance with the Federal Government to bring this to control. Therefore, I take it for granted that we all know that T.A Orji is a huge success in the area of security.
HUMAN CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT: Humans come first in governance; hence any good leader will pay more attention to developing and empowering human beings before any other thing. It has been my consistent argument that development is meaningless if it is not focused on developing people. In developing; develop humans first, then, the humans will develop the infrastructure. An empowered citizen is a free citizen and a free citizen is a productive citizen. A governor who does not pay adequate attention to improving the welfare of his people is a modern day slave driver. Do not get confused when such a governor has a good number of his subjects clapping for him; think about Stockholm Syndrome.
Abia State under Governor T.A Orji has seen a leadership deliberately focused on developing the people. The Governor has dedicated most of his attention to exploring ways of ensuring that the people are empowered and developed. Governor T.A Orji arguably boasts of one of the best youth empowerment schemes in the country. Contrary to what you may have been made to believe, the youth empowerment scheme is not all about sharing of vehicles or tricycles, it goes far beyond that. The governor adopts the Igbo traditional method of youth apprenticeship, whereby young people are helped to be established in whatever skill they have been able to acquire. Through this scheme, thousands of Abia youths have been helped to have a good footing in whatever area they chose to be in. Thousands of equipment like vulcanizing machines, sewing machines, vehicles, hair dressing equipment and other machineries has been distributed to a wide range of youths, women and other classes of Abia citizens; this has ensured a viable economy driven by the people. The non-indigene civil servants, who were sacked in 2011, have all been recalled and all their arrears paid them. The government of T.A Orji has also created opportunities for a good number of the youths to be absorbed into the civil service, while others who may not have the advantage of tertiary education are lucratively engaged through his environmental sanitation and transport sector task force groups.
In Imo State, the human capital development and empowerment is nothing to write home about since the inception of the Owelle Rochas Okorocha administration. The Governor showed his disdain for human development, when barely six days into his administration, he sacked the ten thousand yoths who benefited from the recruitment drive of his predecessor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim. He also sacked elected local government chairmen and councillors; an action the Supreme Court later described as ‘executive recklessness’. The Governor of Imo State also abolished the Imo Rural Roads Maintenance Agency (IRROMA), which gave direct and indirect employment to over two thousand youths in the State. Other employment opportunities which previous administrations, especially that of Chief Ikedi Ohakim created became dysfunctional during the administration of Owelle Rochas Okorocha. It is important to note that the Governor of Imo State, has not inaugurated any youth or masses empowerment scheme since 2011, when he was inaugurated as the Governor of Imo State. Owelle has sacked more workers than any other governor in the history of our democracy. The Imo Job Center which was established by Chief Ikedi Ohakim has also become a ghost of itself, with most of its staff fleeing the establishment, owning to irregular remuneration and non-guarantee of job security.
EDUCATION: Quality education is the bedrock upon which a successful society is built. Any leader who truly loves his people and wishes for the best for his people will not toy with the educational sector.
Chief T.A Orji has paid credible and commendable attention to the educational sector with adequate care not to play to the gallery at the detriment of the quality education of his subjects. The governor has assembled some of the best eggheads as council members of the Abia State University, Uturu and the Abia State Teaching Hospital, Aba. There is a functional free transport scheme for school children living in Aba and Umuahia as a way of ameliorating the cost of education for their parents. He has also invested good effort in educational infrastructure. T.A Orji has also employed qualified, young and vibrant teachers to take over from the aging population of teachers in Abia schools.
In Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha brandishes his bogus and unworkable free education at all levels mantra as his singular most important achievement as governor. The governor has also embarked in an audacious construction of modern classroom blocks which was originally planned for the 305 wards in the State, under an indiscernible agreement with Roche Group; less than two hundred of these classroom blocks have been completed, and there seems to be no hope in sight that the others will be constructed within the next six months. Also, credit must go to the Imo State Governor for promptly paying the teachers in the State, and also spoiling them with one allowance largesse or the other. Importantly, however is the quality of learning that our children are exposed to. Within the period Okorocha has been governor of Imo State, Imo’s fortune in education has continued to take a dangerous nosedive. From the secondary school; where the examination bodies have rated us lowly in the last two years, to our university that its rating has continued to dwindle drastically, there is no doubt that all is not well with our educational system. The Imo State University, Owerri, which till recently was the best State University in the country has lost accreditation for about eleven of its programs, while more than twenty of the other programs have their accreditation statuses hanging in the precipice. Our schools are also terribly understaffed with less than one hundred mathematics teachers presently employed in the secondary school system. It is obvious that Abia State under T.A Orji also has a better educational program than Okorocha’s Imo.
INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT: Aba has continued to be the refrain of those who accuse Chief T.A Orji of non performance. However, nothing can be judged exclusively on its own, comparison is indispensable for a fair judgement. While the supporters of governor T.A Orji have tried to puncture that part of the argument by shifting the bulk to the Federal Government and in other times putting up the argument that a lot of work has been done by the present administration in Aba. Truth is, Aba remains a credible reference point for failure of governance. It is also understandable that people express this level of frustration over the condition of Aba, because of its prime position as a commercial nerve center, responsible for about forty percent of Abia’s internally generated revenue.
However, we cannot pretend not to have taken note of the massive infrastructural facelift in Umuahia, the capital city and its surrounding towns. T.A Orji met a dilapidated workers secretariat whereby, workers have to operate from makeshift shanties. The Governor has successfully completed a twin edifice Abia State worker’s secretariat in addition to rehabilitating the Federal Secretariat. Ochendo has commissioned about 38 urban and rural roads that are qualitative enough to stand the test of time. According to a report by Nnaji Obed Asiegbu: “The New Abia State Workers Secretariat twin complex is just one out of the Governor’s legacy projects in Abia State. There are many other people’s orientated projects embarked upon by the Governor like the New Government House ongoing, the New e-library ongoing, The Judiciary Complex completed , the New Industrial and Allied Timber Market completed, the New Umuahia Main Market completed, The Dialysis Centre Umuahia completed, the new specialist and diagnostic centre umuahia and Abia completed, About 250 functioning Primary Health Care Centres, Eighteen, 100 beds Gen Hospitals ongoing, The New Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State complex completed and awaiting commissioning, the new 6 court rooms High Court in Umuahia completed and awaiting commissioning, the new High court Aba ongoing, the new 9000 capacity International Conference Centre Umuahia, almost completed, the New ASEPA complex, completed and commissioned, the new Abia State skill acquisition centre, completed, the New ASUBEB complex ongoing, the New JAAC and Ndi Eze Complex ongoing, the new legislative administrative complex, almost completed; irebuilding of schools and many more.”
In Imo State under Governor Rochas Okorocha, there has been so much talk about infrastructural revolution but little action on the ground. It baffles me when some of my comrades from Imo State will keep singing about the mostly federal roads in Aba as evidences of T.A’s failure, while closing their eyes to the deplorable condition of roads across the State. I have continually challenged supporters of the Re-skew government of Owelle Rochas Okorocha to show me any standard two kilometre road that was constructed by the Okorocha administration and is still without a single pothole. Roads around Works Layout, Shell camp area, Okigwe road and other roads that are a stone throw to the Imo Government House are in terrible condition, apart from some of the major roads in Orlu town that are perpetually under construction, most roads across the State are in one pitiable condition of disrepair or outright abandonment. Apart from buildings that are of no economic value that are springing up here and there, with a good number of them having collapsed shortly after they are completed, there is nothing on the ground to show that Okorocha does better in the area of infrastructure development than Governor T.A Orji.
HEALTH: Health they say is wealth and a leader must invest conscious efforts towards ensuring that the people are provided with sound health facilities and other trained health personnel. A leader cannot be said to be successful if (s)he cannot boast of having secured the health of the population through the provision of modern and useful state of the art health infrastructure.
Abia State under Governor T.A Orji has witnessed modest but commendable improvement in the health sector. The government has not gone on any wild goose pursuit of impossibilities, but has concentrated on deploying available resources to the acquisition and maintenance of viable health facilities and also ensuring that its health workers are well motivated for optimal performance. The Governor has achieved the establishment of a state of the art specialist diagnosis centres in Umahia and Aba, through a public private initiative. Also, the government has successfully built and commissioned 210 community health centres under its primary health care program, while not failing to meet its counterpart obligations with its partner agencies like the WHO and UNICEF.
In Imo State, the health sector has been transformed on billboards, television and newspaper advertorials. On the ground, there is nothing spectacular that the government of Owelle Rochas Okorocha has done towards improving the health sector in the State. His policies and queer style of governance have rather affected the health sector in negative ways. For instance, the Umuguma General Hospital which served as credible alternative to the over burdened Federal Medical Center, Owerri has become a ghost of itself owning to haphazard upgrading or privatization plan, which put the staff of the Hospital in a serious disadvantage. Facilities in that hospital are nothing to write about here, while the staff are regularly at loggerheads with the government over salary arrears and poor working condition and environment. The governor’s pledge to complete and commission 27 state of the art general hospitals across the State is still a pipedream that may never come to fruition, considering that none of the hospitals has attained up to thirty percent completion status. The thirteen general hospitals and avalanche of primary health care points which previous administrations initiated are one poor state of operation or the other.
Before we join the bandwagon of inappropriate comparisons, we must sit down to do some verifiable analysis. There is no doubt that T.A Orji is not a perfect leader, but no one is really a perfect leader. But the consistent attempt by fifth columnists to deceive innocent citizens into believing that Okorocha is a better leader than him is quite unfair and grossly mendacious. T.A, outranks Okorocha in all the indices used in measuring good governance, and this can be verified by the open minded. T.A Orji may not be very good at punching the air while making his speeches neither is he good at employing all sorts of deceitful tactics to hoodwink the gullible, but with all his imperfections, Okorocha is not a match to him and we cannot be said to be fair if we continue on the weak argument that Okorocha is better.
Written by: Onwuasoanya FCC Jones