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Orji: Everybody is a Contributor to Nigeria’s Problems

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IMAGE: Theodore Orji, Abia State Governor »

Septemeber. 18.2014

Your administration is gradually winding up, what is the position of Abia State in terms of development?
There is a great improvement in terms of development in Abia State.  And as I am winding up, I am happy to announce that I will be leaving Abia better than I met the state in terms of development in all sectors, not only in one sector, all the sectors. To be candid with you, there are sectors that I have made tremendous impact; sectors like security. You are all aware of the security situation in Abia when there was kidnapping, but today there is a clear difference in terms of security of lives and property.
Also, it has been united as a state; we have made very good and remarkable progress in that aspect. Of course, I met Abia in shambles in terms of unity of purpose, in terms of unity of resources, in terms of unity of human beings. But today, we have been able to unified Abia and Abia now speaks with one voice and does things like a united family.

You can now summon a meeting in Abia and who-is-who in Abia will come; what didn’t happen before. That is also a very remarkable improvement. And you know that once you have security, all the other sectors will notice improvement, but once there is insecurity, you cannot record achievements anywhere because people will be running for their lives.
When you go to different sectors like health, we have made tremendous impact in Abia State to the extent that we have won awards; local, national and international. The same thing also in terms of security, we have won awards.
In our health sector, at least one remarkable thing you will notice is that Abia, within the period that I am governor, was accredited as a place for internship for medical officers. One of our hospitals was certified as a place where fresh medical graduates from the university will now go and do their housemanship for one year before they proceed for their NYSC.
It wasn’t like that before and it is not every person that is given that authority because they came. The National Medical Council came and surveyed our health infrastructure and certified that we are worthy to have it. So, that became a very remarkable achievement. Right now we have eighteen of them, medical students who are there.

And another is our youth empowerment programme. We have a template that can be emulated anywhere - a template that is established in Abia where we empowered and galvanised the youth in terms of giving them the tools and giving them the funds that they would use.
It is Abia State that started this issue of buying good vehicles and giving them to the youth free of charge so that they can fend for themselves. Before now, we have many of our youths we pay N15, 000; we pay it into their banks to cater for them so that they don’t fall into criminality. And that is one of the things we do that is making the rate of kidnapping in Abia State drastically reduced.
Then we have skill acquisition centres in all the local governments where our youths are trained. Our modern farm estates have been reserved and our youths also are working there and are being paid. Like I told you I don’t want to go into other sectors, theses ones I have given you are shining examples of the improvement that we have brought to Abia.
Infrastructure that were not there before; structures that were not there before that were supposed to be there, like secretariat, like government house, like International Conference Centre, like the e-library and specialist hospital; these things were not there before, today they are there.

The person who will be coming after me will not worry himself to build these structures; he will now go into other areas. Moreover, Abia State is God’s Own State and 95 per cent of the people who live in Abia believe in God whether you are a Muslim or Christian.
This government has been able also to change the face of Abia and channel the face of Abia towards God. Now we know God is our creator. We don’t have any other creator. But before now, the worship of idol was rampant. I feel ashamed to say this kind of thing. Ask any person in Abia. Before you become anything in Abia, you will be taken somewhere to swear to an oath, but today, it doesn’t happen again and that leads to the issue of godfatherism in politics.
We have also been able to eliminate and kill permanently, the issue of godfatherism. So if you become anything in Abia, you know it is your talent that will make you whatever you will be. It is your antecedent that will project you, not any godfather. So these few things I have told you give insight into others.

Then can you beat your chest and say you have seen Abia of your dream?
Yes of course, a dream starts and continues until is realised. Somebody has to start the dream, start dreaming and try to actualise it. Even if you don’t actualise it and someone comes and see you a dreaming a good dream, he will fall into the dream. It will be contagious, you fall into the dream and continue dreaming until it is realised. So we started the dream which we are pursuing vigorously, and we are realising the dream.

What are your major challenges in the last seven years?
My major challenges are challenges you face in governance. First and foremost, I mentioned the issue of godfatherism here in Abia to you which is a major challenge. Any person, who is elected by popular vote of the people, must be allowed without interference, to exercise that duty the way the people want the way his conscience is leading him, that was the major challenge that faced us which we overcame.
The other major challenge is the thing that faces every governor and that is the issue of finance. It is never enough. But it is your capacity to manage the little that comes your way and that we have shown.
All of you are enlightened, you know how much Abia receives in a month compare with others. When you compare what Abia receives with what is on ground, you will know that this government has done very well. So that is another challenge; managing the resources of the people, not only managing the resources of the people, managing the people also is another challenge.
Another challenge is managing the people of Abia who are intelligent, managing the people of Abia who are traders and people in the transport sector - sectors that are very difficult to manage them. To maintain peace in Abia is another problem also. To manage also, the workforce and it stands to my credit that since I became governor till now that workers in my state have never gone on strike.

The Nigerian Labour Congress has never gone on strike. Even during the time of fuel crisis when all workers in the whole of South-east went on strike, Abia workers never went on strike. They didn’t go on strike because of the way we have been managing them. We have our problems but we have managed the problems corporately with the workers and they are happy with it. They give you a conducive environment for them to work and for me also to operate.
So that is an achievement for this government and it is one of the challenges that we have; how to manage all these people, the workers, the traders, the farmers, the teachers and all of them, it not easy but we have achieved something there.

Have you anointed a successor or you are having difficulty finding one?
No, I have not anointed any successor. It is the people that will make the choice.  It is not the governor that will make the choice. It is the people that will make the choice the governor will only help in galvanising the people to make the choice. I have not anointed any person, I have not. My successor will emerge by the popular will of the people.

It is being rumoured that you are running for senatorial seat in 2015, what is the true position?
You are current on what is happening. My tenure has not ended yet, I will leave by May 29, 2015 but six months ago, my people, not only people from my senatorial zone, the whole of Abia people have been coming up saying you must go to the Senate; we are begging you to go to the Senate that is the right place for you.
And it is unprecedented. It has never happened in the history of Abia State. Check it out. It has never happened in the history of Abia State, a sitting governor has not finished his tenure and his people are urging him to go to the Senate. Not only people from my senatorial zone of Abia Central, people from the North and people from the South.
They come on daily basis. If not that at a stage I told them look, let it not seem as if I am being manipulated. If you go to Umuahia, if you go to Abia today you and see my posters, I have never printed one poster neither have I commissioned any person to print any poster for me. 
At a stage I had to go on air to tell people not to do that because INEC has its timetable. But you know the zeal in the people - what the people want you cannot stop what they want so they continued making noise about it, Ochendo must go to the Senate. If you remove the posters they will paste it on the streets again. Youth organisations, traditional rulers, church people, all of them, all these people have been urging me and when that becomes the case, if you are in my position what will you do will you disobey your people.
Because I am a public officer, their power is my power. I derive my power from the people that is the slogan of my party, PDP, Power to the People. They have the power and they can give it to the people they like. I have always told them I have never made any categorical statement on this issue. I have always told them, yes, I have heard all you have said but wait for the appropriate time you will hear from me and that their wish is my command.

On the seemingly intractable security challenges facing the nation, especially in the North, what do you think is the way out?        
The way out is the way the federal government and the president is handling it. Which other way do you think is the way out? That is the way out. But insecurity is not peculiar to Nigeria, we have insecurity in many places in the world but ours has come in terms of insurgency and militancy.
It is new to us and since it is new, it needs also new tactics to fight it and that is what the federal government is doing.

But critics are saying President Goodluck Jonathan is not doing enough on the security challenges?
What do you expect the critics to say? That is why you call them critics; that is why they are critics they will not praise you, they criticise you. Even if you are putting in 500 per cent, they will still criticise you because a lot of politics is involved, you will know because I have faced such challenge in my state and I know the implications.
I know how the leaders feel in the challenge of insecurity, when his people are not safe, when lives and property are not safe. I know how the leaders feels, and I am sure President Goodluck Jonathan is feeling the same because he is a compassionate person. I am sure that is the way he is feeling and no person will be in his position and not feel the same way.
But you will always have detractors everywhere since it is politics. You shouldn’t expect everybody to be your friend. You don’t expect 100 per cent; you must have detractors who will not find anything good in what you are saying. So if you are saying he is not doing much, as a human being when you are sober, within your sober moment you reflect on all the things and do an assessment whether the federal government is trying or not.
The federal government is not folding it arms. Foreigners have come to offer assistance - super powers have come to offer assistance have they been released? So what will happen is that the federal government will continue trying until eventually when these girls will come back home. We believe they will come home one day.

Some Northern elders recently gave an ultimatum to the president to secure the release of the abducted schoolgirls or forget 2015, what is your take on this?
Well, my take on this is that the statement is laden with politics. Produce the girls or you forget 2015! Is it only 2015 that the president will forget because of the Chibok girls? I do know also that the president is trying and the people, who are giving him ultimatum, are they trying also to help the president to produce these girls?
This thing happened in the North, we expect also that there should be serious action from the area of incidence. After all they say security is a person’s business. So they should also help the president on how to secure the release of those girls. Everybody should help him also. If you offer your help and we marry all the hearts and it doesn’t work, we will know that corporately we have failed.
It is not to stay somewhere and put salt into injury and carry kerosene and put it into the fire that is burning and say look: produce this girls and forget about 2015. You will know that it is because of 2015 that this thing is happening, that is it.

In view of the prevalence of insecurity across the nation’s political terrains, some pundits are already predicting doomsday in 2015, do you subscribe to this prediction?
At all, I don’t subscribe to that. Nigeria has come to stay. If Nigeria did not break during civil war, it can’t break up again. The civil war was the worst period for us in terms of unity and we overcame. We have held successful elections during civilian regime which is a plus for this government.
I believe also that with the cooperation of every person that the next election is going to be successful because democracy has come to stay here. It is for us to nurture democracy until it is perfected. It is not a question of making sarcastic statements that are demoralising to the leaders. We should embolden the leaders by making statements that will enhance their morale. Leadership is not a tea party. It is not an easy thing and anybody who is the leader needs prayers. That is what the Bible says. We should all cooperate with that person to make sure that the person succeeds and that is why I am appealing to Nigerians to cooperate with the president.
Don’t you think the leaders contribute more to Nigeria’s problems?
Every person is Nigeria’s problem not the leaders alone. What of the people who are led? Is it the leader that will call you as you are here now to say go and take a gun and break that room - going into criminality and you go and do it? Are you not a human being? Don’t you have conscience? Don’t you have brains to say this thing they want me to do is bad? So it is not only blaming the leadership always, you blame every person, both the leadership and the led.

If you are given the responsibility to recommend, what system of voting would you advocate for 2015 election?
The system I will recommend if it is feasible is Option A4. You know the one they call Option A4? Electorate queue then you will see the popular person. Option A4 that is the one I will recommend because that is the test of popularity.
Option A4 is open, you will see the candidate, people will see where you have queue and you say yes I am staying here with all your confidence because you believe in the man and this is where I am. So that is the one I will recommend if it is feasible

Article Credit: Thisdaylive

Updated 4 Years ago

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Tags:     NYSC     Muslim     Christian     Abia State     President Goodluck Jonathan