Abia State is notorious for bad leadership since the advent of this democracy. Since 1999, the state popularly known as God’s Own State has not had it better in the hands of the elements that emerge every now and then as its leaders, especially as Governors.
Aside from being an oil revenue State, Abia State before 1999 was the epicenter of commercial and vocational activities. The popular Ariaria Market was the melting pot for most Africans who converge to buy famous Aba-Made shoes and bags. Then, there was an influx of people from Ghana, Togo, Cameroun, Gambia and other African countries that thronged in to patronize the popular power-line and Bakassi line shoe and bag markers.
The Factory Road was once a beehive of commercial and banking activities. There were hardly any big companies that do not have a functional branch along the factory road. Aba was a city full of creative people and boisterous vocation. But all these have changed and for worse.
A visit to Aba, the once vocational capital of Nigeria would leave one with more tears than excitement. Commercial activities are almost grounded to a halt. The popular Factory road looks like a deserted city hit by an epidemic outbreak. Businesses are relocating. Dirt and municipal wastes dot every corner of that once busy and boisterous city. Criminality thrives. Serious businesses are relocating to other places. The young men who once eked a living through shoemaking are relocating to other places, including exiting the shores of Nigeria for greener pasture.
From Orji Uzor Kalu to his Chief of Staff, Senator Theodore Orji who later and ‘magically’ emerged from the prison yard to become a governor, up to the current Comic-Governor Mr. Okezie Ikpeazu, it has been from one sore experience to another.
With no salaries for the State workers and no pension for pensioners for many months, one may be forced to ask where all the revenues accruing to the state, including the IGR are going. What about the massive and reckless loans that have become the hallmark of the current Okezie Ikpeazu-led government? What has happened to all these monies? Why has the state remain stagnant with no infrastructures and social amenities, despite the fact that the State is an oil producing one?
One may be forced to ask? What is truly wrong with Abia State vis-à-vis moral and creative leadership? Why have the people been having it too rough with those who wield the power legitimized by the people in the State that was once the Vocational Pillar and the Epicenter of Commerce within the South East Region?
Abia State is a state that is being rudderlessly hauled by frivolous elements who do not understand a jack about creative leadership. This has worsened and further plunged the collective fortune of the people under the current dispensation. Those who milk and destroy the state seem to have amassed so much illegal wealth to wage a war against creative leadership. They have become a log to the wheel of progress of the State. All revenue generating agencies are hardly accountable to the people but to the praise singers of both the former and the current governors.
Today, unlike most oil producing State, Abia has borrowed more to achieve less. People with no knowledge of creative leadership and statecraft are occupying sensitive government offices. The result is what we see today as a State that is near-rudderless.
Unless Abians rise and challenge the status quo; Unless Abians demand for sound leadership by constantly engaging those who wield the powers they legitimize; unless the circle of frivolity is disbanded and dislodged, Abia State with all its natural and human resources would continue to dwindle in its fortune until it finally plunges irrecoverably.
And the time is now!
Iheoma L. Shedrack is a public issue commentator who lives in Abuja. He could be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org