SINCE the return of democracy in the country in 1999, most of the elected governors in the South-South and South East zones succeeded in securing a second term themselves in office, except Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju of Anambra State who was denied by his party and Chief Dipreye Alamaesiagha of Bayelsa State who was removed from office before the end of his second term in office over corruption charges.
So the rest governors from the two zones enjoyed two terms of eight years and handed over to their successors. While some of them, such as Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani of Enugu State went to the Senate, the likes of Achike Udenwa of Imo State and Chief Sam Egwu of Ebonyi State went for ministerial slots. Obong Victor Attah of Akwa Ibom State, Donald Duke of Cross River State and Dr Peter Odili of Rivers State opted to bow out of active politics to enjoy their private life and allow their successors to continue from where they stopped and to take responsibility for whatever happened.
Some of them like Attah, Duke, Nnamani, Egwu and others who tried to play the godfather by lording it over their successors, were strongly and successfully resisted. And realising the saying that knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens, they honourably and humbly gave way so that their successors would take complete charge of affairs as the executive governors of their states. Nnamani, for instance, who must have learnt a lesson or two from his estranged godfather, Chief Jim Nwobodo, stayed away to avoid the wrath of his successor, Sullivan Chime.
But in Abia State, the story was quite different as Chief Theodore Orji in his humility accorded his predecessor, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, all the necessary respect. But this was a gesture Kalu and his allies abused by exploiting their contacts in the Presidency, under the late President Umaru Musa Yar Adua, to hijack Orji’s government and dictate who got what.
So throughout Orji’s first term in office, his government was being controlled from Igbere and the state bled, while the people suffered.
Today most of Kalu’s fellow ex-governors have bid farewell to the government of their successors, especially when it is obvious to Nigerians that their successors have done well and are still doing very well in governance.But the case of Abia has remained different, especially since Governor Orji liberated the state from the control of his predecessor.
The impression this development has created is that the Governor’s predecessor cannot survive without patronage from the state government or that government should remain a source of income for him and his family.
This may explain why he has desperately launched all sorts of campaign of calumny against Governor Orji, his family and government. The Governor has had to endure sustained media war based on lies and distorted facts about his government and the Abia people. His predecessor’s Lagos based newspaper has never and will never see anything good in his government, especially since they parted ways. The newspaper has become a political platform to launch contrived and negative stories against Orji’s government and Nigerians are watching and know the reason for the persistent attacks.
It was Joseph Campbell who once said: “We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” Today, it is only in Abia State that the former governor has refused to allow the state to be after managing the collective resources of the people for eight years without rendering account.
Unfortunately for the former governor, the people of Abia know better and cannot be deceived, no matter how well contrived the lies. They are comfortable entrusting their collective resources to Governor Orji to manage for their good.
Orji’s predecessor should borrow a leaf from his colleagues like Odili, Duke, Egwu, Attah, Nnamani and others and allow common sense and wisdom to prevail. His actions somehow border on desperation. But having bragged of being an outstanding and successful businessman before becoming governor of the state, Kalu should be bold and courageous enough to face his private business and take it to the next level like Aliko Dangote and others, instead of wasting his time chasing political shadows in the state.
This is because as it is now, he has no value to add to the politics of the state or otherwise, especially when his records in government cannot match that of his successor.
Clearly, the days of political godfatherism are over in Nigeria and the people of Ondo State demonstrated it during the last governorship election in the state. It is another bitter lesson for ex-governors who want to remain perpetual godfathers.
Mr. JAPHETH AGBABA, a lawyer,wrote from London.