Abia state, created 31 years ago is one of the few states in Nigeria blessed with an unquantifiable array of human capital and natural endowments. Abia which prides itself as ‘God’s Own State’ is a hub of industrialisation and commercial activities.
It has a large deposit of crude oil, with a rich arable land and vegetation used by farmers for the cultivation of rubber and palms.
The strategic location of the state and plethora of resources therein attracted the federal government to cite the Enyimba City Economic Zone.
When completed, the project will be an economic hub for the nine Southeast and Southsouth States. It will be linked with high grade access roads, rails, airports and seaports that will transform the region into a manufacturing and industrial powerhouse, with ancillary drivers of commerce, logistics, entertainment, education, health and lifestyle living.
Despite these endowments, Abia state resident have been unlucky with it’s leadership choices. The state has been manned by visionless leaders, lacking in the requisite political goodwill and capacity to provide good governance to the populace. The quest for power in the past, has created irresponsible governance rather than the hunger to serve the state.
Since 1999, what we have witnessed in Abia State is ‘fantastically corrupt governors’ according to David Cameron former prime minister of United Kingdom. No previous governor in Abia State has displayed any sense of good governance and responsibility in public office.
Our suffering today is as a result of irresponsible and careless governance. Poor governance has over the years dwarfed its social and economic advancement and created monumental corruption and extreme poverty in the State.
There is a complete disconnect between the people of Abia and the political class. The leadership selection process has over the years been reduces to a compensation plan where political praise singers and loyalist are rewarded with the exulted position of the Chief Executive of the state even when they have the least idea on governance.
A few vocal voices that have attempted to redirect the kingmakers on the need to re-organise the leadership selection process in such a way that competence will be the deciding factor but their views have been swallowed by the ignorant majority that strongly hold unto the principle of zoning and a so-called ‘Abia Charter of Equity document’ which according to them must be respected even when it throws up incompetent leaders.
It is un record that the state has been observing this principle of zoning since the return to Democracy. Zoning has continued to degenerate into a process that generate leaders neck deep into primitive acquisition of wealth, bereft of ideas on how to manage a basic society let alone transform a state with quantum of human and material resources.
2023 is here and it is expected that every right thinking Abian should be more interested in a process that will overhaul the status quo, a process that will bring to an end the process that rewards incompetence and exchange it with a process that will introduce novelty into the leadership selection process anchored on capacity, vision, experience, verifiable leadership records and above all competence which the myopic lens of zoning may not be able to provide.
This is the time for us to remain focused on good governance as that’s the only way of getting our people out of poverty. Good governance is more powerful than zoning. We need a candidate that will be able to manage economic resources with prudently and govern the state with the seriousness it deserves. Someone with the ability to assemble a formidable team with character and experience to get Abia State from a docile state to an active State with enhanced GDP.
The electorate should focus energy not on the endless debate on zoning but on how we could x-ray candidates to ensure they have the capacity to improve the lives of Abians in a way the state has never witnessed before. In the words of Kofi Anan’s memoirs former Secretary General of United Nation, “Good governance is perhaps the most singular and most important factor for eradicating poverty and enhancing development’’.
It’s a general consensus that Abia State is the worst developed State in the South East, if not Nigeria, as a result of zoning.
An average man or woman from Abia State does not want to know where the next governor comes from, his or her concern remains good state infrastructure and better opportunity for his or her children in the state. Good road network, adequate healthcare system, good and affordable education, clean water and cleaner environment, basic needs of life for Abia people are all the electorate in interested in.
The zoning debate is another ploy by few individuals constantly ensure that their little interest is well protected.
We have heard so much about this Abia charter of equity document and so far, that document is nowhere to be found. To the best of my knowledge it is not in the party secretariat, not in the internet, and I suspect about 60-70% of Abia people have never sighted that document and yet we are busy debating a document that most Abians have not sighted or in possession of a copy.
My fellow Abians, this is the time to shine our eyes than ever before as more than thirty-one years of our life as a state have already been wasted. If we succeed in zoning and fail to get good governance right, am afraid we may not have achieved anything and we will still remain where we are as the worst developed State in Nigeria.
This is the time to be sincere and honest with ourselves in the State and to know that no amount of zoning debate will get Abia state out of previous mess caused by past irresponsible government. We have tried and tested zoning, and to my knowledge all the zones in Abia State have tasted power. It is needless to point out that no iota of good governance came out of the zoning experiment.
If we don’t act now and say enough is truly enough by insisting on fair and transparent primaries, then it may be too late for us as economic development and advancement will continue to elude us.
Anybody who understands the severe negative impact of poor governance over the years in Abia State should not be part of zoning debate, primarily designed for selfish interest of politicians.
Some of us came from a background where competency and service delivery is the hallmark of public office. Politics is about battle for ideas in any modern society and quest to genuinely serve, and when anything goes wrong someone must be held responsible for that error or wrong doing in public office.
My brothers and sisters in Abia State this election will be an opportunity to write the wrongs of our previous mistakes, otherwise we risk being labelled as fools for very long time to come. This is why we need a more democratic scrutiny and overhaul our approach to good governance.
We need an effective government to be led by effective individual who can improve the state and break the culture of reckless economic mismanagement in Abia state.
Prince. Tim A. Ogwuru (MA, Liverpool, MRIPA) @ firstname.lastname@example.org writes from Abuja
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ROYAL NEWS eCopy March 28, 2022
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