By Charles Ajunwa
When a writer sets out to denigrate somebody but ends up presenting himself as the man in the mirror he deserves no pity but scorn. That was the web that one Ebere Wabara spun for himself in an article entitled “Kolawole’s Lies About T.A. Orji” published in the Daily Sun of Wednesday March 19, 2014. The writer who attached to his name an unenviable title of media advisor to Kalu (Orji Uzor Kalu, former Abia State governor) was obviously piqued over the truth that Simon Kolawole had written about the development-focused Governor of Abia State, Chief T.A. Orji (Ochendo Global) in his column on the back page of THISDAY, the Sunday Newspaper of March 16, 2014. Wabara’s grouse was that Kolawole, a well known forthright columnist and development expert, used the performance of T.A. Orji to drive home his point while discussing ‘Conflict and Underdevelopment’ in his column.
In response to Kolawole’s views Wabara went haywire and laboured albeit in vain to present an unbiased article as a product of “personal drives (which) comes first before any other extraneous consideration.” The so-called Kalu’s media advisor went further to state that because of personal drives “mercantilism has been enthroned in media practice. Everyone in the communicative business now, unlike before, seems to have a price.” This is where Wabara looked into the mirror and what stared him in the face was his own pitiful image. Yes, he cuts the same image he painted of those who, according to him, “seems to sadly have a price”. Wabara got himself into this mess in his spin control mission in his effort to do the bidding of his pay master at the expense of the same journalism ethics and national interest which he lamented were no longer observed by media people. Wabara has unwittingly portrayed himself as a bread and butter journalist, who is ever ready and willing to destroy people’s integrity, character if only to satisfy the whims and caprices of his pay master. He has no iota of respect for elders and persons in positions of authority and antagonistic to opposing views. Or why else did Wabara have to express his frustration with Kolawole’s views by describing his column as “euphemistically entitled ‘Conflict and underdevelopment’ and illustrated with T.A. Orji’s repulsive face”.
True to his warped mindset Wabara could not hide his derision for the chief executive of God’s own state, who has been delivering democracy dividends that Wabara’s principal (Kalu) had told the world was impossible during his eight locust years in power. It is pertinent to let the people know the real reason why the likes of Wabara have been hired to paint Governor T.A. Orji and his administration with tar brush. Week after week Wabara is provided with a space in the Daily Sun to wage media war against the government and people of Abia State. All his writings reek of mischief, malice, falsehoods, odium and utter disrespect to the person and office of Abia State governor. Is that what journalism is all about? Why should those who call themselves journalists allow themselves to be used by selfish politicians to terrorize people? Wabara is nothing but a hate writer. His raison d’etre is to launch ferocious attacks on anybody whose views differ from Kalu’s own. And if one dares to point out the failures of the Kalu administration and the Augean stable he left behind which the present administration has been cleaning, then Wabara would go on suicide bomb mission.
That is why Simon Kolawole, a former editor of THISDAY and a dispassionate columnist came on the firing line for pointing out the correlation between conflict and development and how Kalu’s belligerency stunted Abia’s growth for eight years! Wabara was ready to turn logic on its head and pass off Kalu’s conflict with former President Olusegun Obasanjo as enough reason for Abia State to record zero growth in all sectors under Kalu’s watch. What the unsuspecting members of the public may not recognize was that Kalu’s quarrels were the smokescreen he devised to divert attention from his failings in governance. Given that “Obasanjo hates the Igbo with an uncanny passion” and that “Kalu was at loggerheads with Obasanjo over developmental issues that bordered on the maltreatment of the Igbo” as Wabara wrote, was that enough reason for Abia to suffer under Kalu. He even carried his confrontations to a ridiculous level of blaming the Ota farmer for all his failings as a governor.
For instance, when Kalu could not provide potable water for the people of Abia he told them that he had enough water to deluge the whole state but could not pump the water to homes because Obasanjo refused to provide power. He also said that the absence of street lights in Umuahia the capital city was because Obasanjo refused to provide electricity to power the lights. But just within the first 100 days of Governor Orji’s first tenure the dried taps in Umuahia suddenly started gushing out water to the delight of the people. And the state capital was aglow with street lights. Naturally people started asking if the new man at government house came with a magic wand. How was he able to do what his predecessor had made the people believe was an impossible task. This new development did not offer Orji Uzor Kalu any source of comfort. It was bad news for him because his successor had lifted the veil with which he had covered his colossal failure as a governor. Kalu’s worries gradually turned to consternation and desperation when Ochendo came up with LEGACY PROJECTS. The execution of these projects has opened new vistas of development in the over two decades of Abia’s existence as a state.
Let us even remove the infamous Obasanjo presidency as a factor in the underdevelopment of Abia State during the Kalu locust years. Kalu was elected as the chief executive of Abia State and his mandate required him to drive the development of the state with available resources internally and externally generated. The federal government only plays a complementary role in the development strides of Nigeria’s component states. Aside from Lagos and Abuja, there is no other state or city in Nigeria where the federal government has played a major role in its development. And this is understandable because Lagos was a former national capital and still remains the commercial capital of Nigeria while Abuja has taken over as the federal capital territory. So did Obasanjo prevent Orji Uzor Kalu from giving Abia State all the necessary infrastructure and social amenities that his contemporaries were putting in place in their respective states? Did Obasanjo stop Kalu from creating conducive environment to attract local and foreign investors to Abia?
We all know that Obasanjo did not provide stable electricity to Nigeria. He refused to build second Niger Bridge and also denied the Southeast geopolitical zone an international airport. But were all these enough reason for Kalu to spend whole eight years lamenting and howling at the imperious dictator to the neglect of Abia development. For all we know, the Ota farmer, despite his Igbo phobia, never at any time denied Abia State government or its 17 local governments (Lagos treatment)) their share of federal allocation when Kalu was governor. Unlike his contemporaries Kalu has no legacy project and Wabara has no reason to blame Obasanjo for that. Kalu did not limit his conflict to Obasanjo. Instead of increasing Abia’s internally generated revenue (IGR) to improve the lots of Abia people Kalu instead indulged in increasing internally generated conflicts (IGC). He was not at peace with the National Assembly members from Abia, except his own brother, Nnanna, who spent eight years in the House of Representatives dozing in his hotel room at Abuja. The federal lawmakers from Abia were branded Abuja politicians. In response they kept away from the state and were unwilling to attract federal projects to their constituencies.
Kalu scorned the fathers and elders of the state and antagonized everybody so much that none was making any contribution for the development of Abia. Today, the difference is clear as Governor Orji has reconciled all the political elites and everybody is making contributions for the overall development of Abia. The federal lawmakers are falling over themselves in a healthy rivalry to attract federal projects and also engage in personal empowerment programmes for their respective constituents. Is that not a proof that development CAN NOT thrive in an environment of conflict. Wabara should search his mind and come up with an honest answer if he still retains any modicum of conscience. Abians know that Ochendoism stands for development while gamjism (deceit) as propounded and practiced by Kalu is synonymous with underdevelopment.
Analysis of Wabara’s serial satanic verses in the Daily Sun has revealed that he is a victim of post-mamacracy delusion syndrome (PDS). This disorder is defined as a psychological affliction that prevents a successful adaptation to life under good governance after experiencing eight years of gamjism. Thankfully only an infinitesimal number of Abians have been diagnosed with this disorder. The victims of this malady are people like Wabara and his fellow lackeys of Orji Uzor Kalu. Their sense of perception is conditioned not to identify developments when they see it. That is why Wabara can unashamedly croak that “nothing is happening in Abia” and that “all the good roads in Aba have turned to craters since Kalu left”. If only Wabara was sincere to himself he would not have made such a callous statement. Aba residents would not forgive him and would in fact stone him for reminding them of the “gamji” or deception years of Kalu. The few roads that Kalu managed to build in Aba in eight years of governance did not last more than three months. They were washed away by the rains under the very eyes of Kalu.
However because of the successes of Enyimba international Football Club in the CAF champions league Aba residents only grumbled. They had been fed with the opium of their darling club winning the CAF champions league trophy back to back. As the effect of the opium wore off Aba residents today curse anybody who reminds them of the so called roads that Kalu built. In their ingenuity Aba residents have come up with a fitting name for the so called Kalu roads. They dubbed them “419 roads”. And rightly so because the roads were meant to deceive and not to serve as durable infrastructure that would enhance the welfare of the people. It is now that Enyimba people are seeing quality roads in their city. Not only that, the perennial flooding of Aba that Kalu never paid any attention to has been successfully tackled by Ochendo. Aba is today a clean city. The only heaps of refuse are the ones existing in the mind of Wabara and his likes who suffer from post-mamacracy delusion syndrome. It is the dirty Aba of Kalu era which had registered in his mind and could not be erased because of his psychological malady.
Wabara may not have realized that he actually acknowledged that there are tangible structures today in Abia that one can point at as legacy projects. He even named a few of them, including the dualised roads in Umuahia, multi-storey secretariat, judiciary complex, international conference centre, specialist hospitals and diagnostic centres, new markets etc. But instead of eating the humble pie and acknowledge that things are indeed changing for good in Abia and then give credit to Ochendo for making Abia to rise again, Wabara cowardly labored in vain to appropriate the projects to his pay master as “renovated projects of Kalu”. What a pity! The corollary of such claims is that it has now dawned on Kalu that he had left no legacy after eight years as Abia State governor. So in his desperation he has instructed his lackeys to find a way of appropriating Ochendo’s legacy projects. But the subterfuge would not work. Abians know better. The simple challenge to Wabara is to point to those projects that Kalu built that survived his tenure for which he should be remembered. No matter how hard Wabara continues to churn out his satanic verses the good people of Abia State would not stop celebrating the new dawn of transformation powered by Ochendo.
*Ajunwa is Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Abia State