BY DAN AMOR
Events lead a double life, and the appearance of events in politics is as important as their reality– Theodore H. White.
IN the recent past, that is, during the first eight years of our current democratic experiment, many states in the unitary system wrongly tagged federation were more or less empires of fraud and rapacious inclinations accentuated by the worst form of plebendal manipulations. Some of the states including Abia were run like family estates or kingdoms of the age of antiquity where the subjects had virtually no say in the way they were governed. Consequently, even as the presidency was submerged in a sinking flood of corruption with a putrid stench as obnoxious as that of a rotten egg, some of the states were monopolised by business men who saw governance as a huge investment. Yet, in the uncanny dialectics of politics of corruption and the contagious corruption of politics, the old order somehow managed to throw up a new order of decency and accommodation in the manner of divine intervention.
In spite of whatever quake of apprehension that was bound to erupt as the aftermath of the infamous 2007 general elections, Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief when the late Umaru Yar’Adua emerged as president with also some educated and conscionable young men becoming governors in certain states across the country. This marked the beginning of the reversal of the fatalistic hopelessness that marred the confidence Nigerians reposed in the democratic process. Theodore A. Orji incidentally was one of the apostles of the new socio-political order. He sits atop a state that is commonly referred to as an agrarian, civil service state. Like the biblical Joseph who became Prime Minister of Egypt from prison, Orji, popularly known as Ochendo, won his election while he was being incarcerated by political enemies.
He inherited a State that was hitherto the hotbed of kidnapping activities in the South East and a home to lawless traders who made people sell their property at rock-bottom prices so that they could leave Aba its commercial hub for safety. It was that bad, truly. Now, everyone can appreciate how he wooed the restive “area boys”, confused the pundits and salvaged the once volatile state from anarchy. To middlemen of ideas, after more than four years in the saddle, Orji remains an utter riddle- a study in ironic metaphor. Hence, the local and international media have given him the most sweeping commendation ever accorded a public officer in recent times. In more than five years in office, Orji has not known personal unpopularity, nor has his administration seen anything but success.
He stands above all political fray despite occasional hysteria about politics of local government allegedly sponsored by his adversaries and the seeming simple political catches being dropped by those who desperately want his job. Although we cannot disparage the value of general notions about the climate of opinion in a given period and the unsavoury inquisitions of political enemies, we cannot as well deny the fact that Orji has infused the hitherto turbulent and crime-infested Aba city with some benevolent antidotes. For those who had the misfortune of visiting Aba at the apogee of kidnapping, Abia state now presents the apotheosis of peaceful co-existence in the entire South East geo-political region. This did not come by a sudden flight. It happened as a result of strategic planning and diligent application of tact and tenacity.
Whereas several politicians in positions of authority do not see themselves as managers but believe that their job is “to do the right things” while others are responsible for “doing things right”, Governor Orji belongs to the negligible clan of politicians who see themselves first and foremost as managers. They make things happen and get result. They don’t wait for the future; they create it. This is no propaganda. I have followed up developments in the state to come to this conclusion.
According to many citizens of Abia state, some of whom have had cause to confront him due to party differences, one thing that marks Orji out as a man of the people, is his brand of politics. He is a tolerant politician who eschews bitterness, animosity and rancour.
Of course, far from being a saint, no man is infallible or perfect. But how he came to be so in tune with the dauntless optimism and carriage of an international statesman is a true mystery left to be unravelled by historians. Yet, what could possibly have been responsible for his magic wand? As a village boy who lived all his life in Abia State, except, perhaps when he went to higher school in Owerri, University in Ibadan, and NYSC in the North, Orji’s transparent husbandry in allocation of scarce resources to productive ends perhaps can be adduced fro his rising profile.
*Mr. Amor, a commentator on national issues, wrote from Aba, Abia State