By Okey Ndiribe
Hon. Godwin Adindu, Special Assistant on Media to Abia State Governor Theodore Orji, is also the President-General of the Abia Renaissance Movement (ARM), a socio-political group. After ARM’s second Annual General Meeting (AGM) took place , he addressed journalists on the vision of the group and why Nigeria needs to tap from the skills of the Abia governor. Excerpts:
What’s the way forward for Nigeria?
Nigeria is passing through a trying time. President Goodluck Jonathan is an unfortunate leader who inherited a nation at war with itself. It’s a very difficult situation for him as a leader. People are quick to criticize but they don’t know the burden of leadership. Some of them cannot even run their homes. But, our position is that despite our trials as a nation, Nigeria must remain a united country.
We call on the insurgents in the north to toe the line of peace and lay down their arms. They have caused enough havoc to the country. By now, they should have realized that their dream of a divided country is unattainable. But, we are worried as a group, over the dimension of the foreign terrorists in our midst. The discovery of the involvement of some Lebanese residents in Kano and Abuja in the sponsorship of terrorism in Nigeria is a challenge that the law enforcement authorities must tackle immediately.
Top on your communiqué is the recommendation that the Federal Government should engage Orji at the centre. How will this work?
The issues confronting Mr. President today at the national level are similar to the issues that Orji grappled with in Abia at the point of the liberation. The governor inherited a state and a society that were literally at war. There were serious issues of insecurity. You are aware of the siege by kidnappers. The entire state was polarized. People were working at cross purposes. There was tension everywhere.
The governor carefully and meticulously addressed these issues and stabilized the state. There must be a special skill and strategy that he deployed in tackling these issues. If it is in the professions, we will call him an expert on these matters. And what do you do to experts? You bring them in when the situation looks complex. You tap from their wisdom and knowledge on the topic. You invite them to demonstrate the skill and experience they used in handling similar situations.
So we believe that Governor Orji has raised the bar in governance and therefore needs to play at the centre to help lift Nigeria from its present predicaments. Nigeria has the privilege of a man who has been honed for leadership. So Nigeria needs Orji at the centre to replicate the miracle.
What’s the vision of ARM?
Our vision is simple and it is rooted in history. We had a peculiar case in Abia. We were under the kind of power arrangement witnessed in the Medieval Ages. Do you remember Louis xiv of France and his boast? “The state is mine,” said the grand monarch. Do you remember Charles V of England and his divine right of kings? We had a replica of these rulers in our former ruler. So in the midst of the nation’s hard-earned democracy, Abia continued to be a colony ruled by one family. The iron hand was so strong and the grip so hard.
Then, one day, God heard the cry of the people and prepared another Moses. God weaned Governor Theodore Orji for the work ahead because he passed through the bondage. He says it openly today. At the fullness of time, Orji took the bull by the horns and liberated the state. It was a major revolution.And, as it is the case with all revolutions, from the French to the Bolshevik and to the Red Bandits of China, you need to continue to work hard to sustain it, because the stooges of the falle
n regime will persist with all devices to truncate it.
So this is where the vision of the ARM starts – to guard this our hard-earned freedom. We are saying in ARM that never again shall anybody come to betray the labour of our heroes past. After twelve years of backwardness, we are happy with the governor’s new vision of change and rebirth. We hold Governor Orji high as a great leader who made personal sacrifices and mustered the courage to lead us out of bondage as a people. So the vision is to defend and protect the Abia heritage of freedom.
What issues did you address at your second AGM?
Our first AGM was in Aba in 2011. This year the co-ordinator of the group in Abia North, Dr. Eze Chikamnayo, suggested that we take it to Lagos because we have a large membership here. A large section of the group are Abians in Diaspora. Next year, we will take it to Abuja. The theme of this year’s AGM is: Abia: the Journey so Far. The major issue was to review the progress of the liberation. We put the whole exercise on the scale.
We looked at Abia before and Abia now. We checked to see if there is major progress and if there are areas where we need to draw the attention of the leader. We did a projection of where Abia could be in the next 20 years if this vision is sustained. We evaluated the work of major appointees in government to be sure they are working in tandem with the vision.
We looked at issues of security, the governor’s infrastructural renewal efforts, social amenities and the entire welfare of the people. In fact, we x-rayed the entire administration and saw that Governor Orji is indeed a revolutionary. He is indeed a true agent of change. You see, revolution is not just about taking up arms and overthrowing an existing political system. Revolution is also about taking drastic steps and executing actions that progressively expand the frontiers of human existence. And this is exactly what the governor is doing in God’s Own State.
And what was your verdict?
We passed a vote of confidence on the governor. We were happy that he has sustained the tempo of the liberation. We were happy that he has achieved so much in a short time and with little resources. The facts are there and anybody can go and verify. We took the premise from where we started two years ago and where we are now.
We are living witnesses and the difference is very obvious. There is today true representative democracy. There has been a massive infrastructural renewal effort. There is freedom and people are in harmony. There is law and order. And the mental orientation as it concerns power and politics has changed completely. Nobody is carrying a cow to anybody to solicit for one political gratification or the other. Things are done on the basis of spread and merit. We were happy with the governor’s principled style of administration. He is indeed a change maker.
Are there no lapses? Are there no areas where you think the liberation needs to be properly guided?
You see, we were sincere to the issues. The governor is like almost starting the building of the state afresh. There was nothing on ground. That’s why I told you earlier that Abians today are living witnesses. People expect him to make a miracle, to change things in one day. But, we are saying that there has been a magnificent change. From point A to point B, there has been a magnificent improvement in every spectrum of life. The governor has been true to his covenant. Well, the area where we think the liberation needs to be guided is in the area of succession so that the vision can remain aflame. But, we didn’t dabble into that. It’s still too early in the day.
What’s the method of operation of ARM?
The ARM is free to all Abians. It is a mass movement. The composition is widespread. We have student leaders, market women, trade unionists, labour leaders and activists as members. But, upon submitting your membership application we run a check to be sure you have kept a noble record in whatever you are doing. We interview you to be sure you are independent-minded and have a predisposition for change.
We have over 500 registered members now. In the last two years, we have been running seminars for members and training them on active citizenship. We try to make them politically conscious. We have organized many stakeholder-engagement programmes aimed at defending and protecting the liberation. We have been working fully to advance the vision of Abia rebirth. We plan to expand the mechanism this year.
So far our programmes have been funded by members. We make free will donations. We have had a situation where a single member paid for accommodation for all members during a seminar in Aba. We try to remain independent so that we can have the moral courage to confront any bad leader within the system. Right now, many people from outside Abia State are showing interest in the organization. They are urging us to make it pan-Nigeria so that it can function as a national organization for advancing the nation’s democracy. We have seen reason in that and, perhaps, after our AGM next year, we might change the name to Nigeria Renaissance Movement and the expand our scope of operation.