Who says governance is a tea party. It is not and can never be because of the numerous challenges associated with it, which demands clear understanding of it, the ability to map out policies and programmes that will tackle the challenges without minding whose ox is gored.
That is why the failure or success of any government is wholly dependent on the person who drives it, his priorities, polices and programmes, coupled with the calibre of people he works with.
And it was Arnold Glasow who once said that one of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognise a problem before it becomes an emergency. Also, according to the United Nations Social And Economic Commission for Asia and the Pacific, “Good governance has eight major characteristics: It is participatory, consensus-oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive and follows the rule of law.
It assures that corruption is minimized, the views of minorities are taken into account and that the voices of the most vulnerable in society are heard in decision-making. It is also responsive to the present and future needs of society”.
The above scenario best captures the ongoing revolutions and pragmatic approach to governance in Abia State as being championed and carried out by Governor Theodore Orji, especially since the end of the liberation struggle between the monsters called political godfathers and the people led by the Governor.
A seasoned civil servant who knows and believes that the civil service is the major driver of any government, Orji instituted a lot of reforms in the sector to clean the Augean stable. Such reforms include rapid and due promotions of workers, introducttion of biometric data capturing, increase in minimum wage, prompt payment of salaries and others.
As that is not enough, and knowing the importance of a conducive working environment for civil servants, he initiated the construction of a befitting five-storey Workers Secretariat in state capital Umuahia which is nearing completion.
Meanwhile, the old secretariat in the state, which before now was a ghetto with decayed infrastructures, has been properly reconstructed and upgraded by the state government.
In what looks like borrowing a leaf from the Abia government, the Enugu State government recently announced plan to build a Workers Secretariat in the state at the cost of N13.6billio. This underscores the importance of good and functional workers secretariat.
Same applies to the International Conference Centre that is under construction in Umuahia. It is the first of its kind in the South East zone, if not in the whole country.
The Centre apart from serving as a source of revenue for the government after completion will also go a long way in changing the face of Umuahia which before now was a glorified village. One believes these are legacy projects that will stand the test of time.
In continuation of its people-oriented policies, the state government recently handed back 16 schools to their original owners, mostly churches. Remarkable the Catholic Church whose Bishop in Umuahia Diocese, Dr. Lucius Ugorji was critical of the government reforms which resulted in the handover of the schools was a beneficiary of the gesture.
It showed that Governor Orji is a leader with an exception. This is so because rather than deny the Catholic Church of the gesture, he acted otherwise, believing that vengeance belongs to God.
To the beneficiaries of the gesture, it was a dream come true after many years of agitations and lobbying for the return of the schools. In order to ensure that they would not be stranded or frustrated, Gov Orji has made it clear that teachers in the affected schools would remain in the payroll of the government and would receive their pensions and gratuities.
It is hoped that the benefitting churches and communities would reciprocate the gesture by ensuring that the teachers and students in the affected schools are not witch-hunted, disengaged or maltreated because of the differences in their religious beliefs and practices.
The beneficiaries, especially the churches, should ensure that the schools are affordable to the people, especially the less-privileged.
Following their outstanding performance in the national competitions where they made Abia State proud, Governor Orji offered 16 students of the state university scholarship award, thereby taking the financial load off their parents and encouraging them to do more. With such incentives from the state government, it is clear that the sky will be the starting point of such children in their quest for education.
Even when it is constitutionally right to run the council areas with caretaker committee chairmen, the Abia State government has put up plans to conduct local government election in the state by January next year. This was after the last elected council chairmen in the state inherited by the Governor Orji administration in 2007 put the state in huge debt even as they could not account for what the money was used for in terms of developmental projects.
Mr Barth Nwalabaraonye, a retired civil servant, wrote from Owerri, Imo State