"He who does not know where the rain started beating him will not know for sure when it stops", so goes an Igbo saying. Unarguably, the South East geo-political zone of Nigeria is probably the most neglected part of our country, with scores of political cum economic sores that stinks to the high heavens. It is my view that the ruins and scares strangulating this once vibrant zone are self-inflicted-though by a greedy few. I genuinely believe that the South East's affinity with the Peoples' Democratic Party, [PDP] remains terribly unjustifiable and flawed.
The South East continues to "vote" for a party that continuously and systematically impoverishes it. The five South East states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo are all guilty of this "crime". One would expect that political affinities are borne out of a mutual "you rub my back and I'd rub yours" scenario; unfortunately, this is not what we see in the East. What we see is a PDP that uses their garrison mentalities to empower a few capricious individuals from the South East who then go back to lie to their people; people not different from most Nigerians who are mainly uninformed, semi-literate and unlettered. Former President Obasanjo invented this dodgy practice which saw the emergence of a handful of PDP "stalwarts" that ran [and continue to] the South East like a fiefdom. Notably, this group of "anointed" party "stalwarts" [don't you love the way the PDP coins words?] are the ones reaping the "dividends of democracy" rather than the people of their zone. What we see then is a South East that is practically left in tatters and ruins.
Why is the South East still glued to the PDP? This party is responsible for the carnage and menace that daily kill our people as a result of the dilapidated roads in that region. In 2009, the Senate ad hoc Committee on Transport submitted that the Federal roads in that geo-political zone were the worst in the country [Daily Independent, Saturday April 4th 2009]. Repeatedly, the PDP led Federal Government continues to ignore the clamour of the people of this zone to fix the death traps that pass for roads which they are forced to ply daily. It is heart-wrenching seeing the state of Federal roads in the South East of Nigeria. When eventually the PDP led government decides to patch up any federal road in the region, such jobs are usually awarded to relatively unknown construction companies owned mainly by some obscure "Party Faithful". The Governors of the five South East States should show some contrition and shame! For personal gain and other avaricious reasons, they always line up behind the PDP led Federal Government, singing the praises of the President while paying lip service to the infrastructural evils afflicting their Zone. We are still waiting to see the much talked about Second Niger Bridge, the dredging of the River Niger to allow for a container terminal to be opened in Onitsha, the completion of the Onitsha-Owerri road [the contract for this road was awarded more than six years ago], the rehabilitation of the totally washed-out Onitsha-Enugu highway, the "patching up" of the now non-existent Nnewi-Okigwe road, and so many other roads belonging to the Federal Government in the region-irrespective of calculated flagrant neglect of their region by the Federal Government, the Governors of the South East bludgeoned their people with propaganda into voting for President Goodluck Jonathan and his PDP. The case of Akanu Ibiam "International" Airport is even more pathetic; the much publicized rehabilitation and upgrade is an excellent example of Fela's Government Magic.
Is there really any Federal presence in the South East of Nigeria? I am yet to see any. Well, we have hundreds of Police stations and posts with the accompanying litany of toll-collecting check points, Prisons, Army Barracks, money spinning Nigeria Immigration Service passport control offices, SSS posts, and other instruments of coercion. There is no Federal Government owned industry in the entire region, the Power Stations in the South East were all systematically grounded and abandoned, The Project Development Institute , PRODA in Enugu exists only in government files. The many Scientists and engineers that were engaged in turning the Institute into a place of scientific and technological Eldorado were made to disappear in droves when it became obvious that there was a grand design by the government to rubbish their efforts by deliberately starving the institute of the much needed funds. Now, it is certain that PRODA is operationally comatose. The PDP led Federal Government does not own any viable business interest in the entire South East geo-political zone.
Why line up behind the PDP during the last Presidential Election? It is strange how the five Governors of the South East States came to a rather swift agreement to support President Jonathan Goodluck in the said election. The argument that they opted for Jonathan, the individual rather than his party is the most absurd logic any dunce can submit! A President Jonathan with the usual PDP henchmen behind him strikes me as being a continuation of the old game. The case of Mr. Peter Obi, the Governor of Anambra State elected under The All Progressives Grand Alliance [APGA] threw me into a panic. What was his business supporting the PDP?
To suggest that the five South East Governors are steadily taking their people for a ride seems a logical argument. The level of infrastructural development in the entire five states of the South East is nothing to write home about, the crime rate in the states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo is mind-bending, drop in male-enrolment into schools is outrageous, and of course the rise in agbata-ekee mentality is peaking rather steadily! What manner of government do we have in the South East? Any government that fails to provide basic amenities for the people is guilty of a moral evil of the worst order, a government headed by Governors that apparently place selfish interests above the general good of the people is flawed, a government that uses spin to hoodwink the people from whence it draws its legitimacy represents the worst case of fraud. In my home state of Anambra, there has been nothing like pipe-borne water for the past nine years or more, yet we have a Governor Peter Obi that occupies the Government House in Awka! What could be more evil than this? Education at every level in my home state is in shambles; primary, secondary and tertiary. I visited the secondary school I attended in January, 2011 [Boys' High School, Amawbia] and wept. A college that was built by my community and handed over to the state government is no more. All the buildings were completely damaged and in ruins, few students and teachers I met were all looking traumatized. It was more like visiting a refugee camp in Sudan. The buildings had no roof, no windows, doors, desks and chairs [I have pictures]. This school is in the heart of the State Capital Territory yet is not connected with electricity and Mr. Obi shells out so much propaganda about supplying all the secondary schools in the state with computer sets. To be powered with kerosene? The same is the case with most of the schools in Anambra State, yet the Government of Peter Obi employs the most bizarre propaganda proclaiming his "achievements"! Proper education is the foundation on which sound societies of men are built and any government that fails the young ones in this regard is rubbish. I really wonder what it is like to lie to your people for a living!
The ugly story is replicated in the entire states that make up the South East geo-political zone. Under the PDP led government at both the state and the Center, Abia State was turned into something akin to a horror story; Aba, that Enyimba City that represented the ingenuity and egalitarian spirit of the Igbo man was reduced to a crime-infested cesspit. Armed robbers and kidnappers held sway in the town and the government supposedly elected by the people could not carry out the primary function of governance-the protection of lives and property. Such things as roads, electricity, good public schools, water, and a functional health care system are non-existent. The same goes for Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo states. The governors are always quick to take "refuge" behind the weak argument of "inadequacy of funds" coming from the Federal Government, but at the end of the day we hear of billions of public funds that simply vanish into private pockets. I challenge Messrs Theodore Orji, Peter Obi, Martin Elechi, Sullivan Chime and Ikedi Ohakim to make public the amount they collect as "Security Vote" from the Federal Government monthly and how it is spent. To my understanding, the governors receive hundreds of millions of Naira monthly from the Center and are not obliged to account for how it is spent. It is an outright act of betrayal of trust for these Governors to be lying to the entire population of the South East. It is heart-breaking.
Why did the Governors goad their people into voting for the PDP? What does it feel like to use people as a means to an end? In the entire South East and South-South, millions of people were deceived with lines like "a vote for Jonathan is a vote for our brother and not for the PDP", and they all believed and voted accordingly. I was shocked when otherwise enlightened folks from those regions defended that bare-faced lie. "Nothing more fatuous could have come out of mouths usually dripping with commonsense" [apologies to Egbon, Dele Sobowale]. When those in positions of trust turn around to use evil spin to hoodwink the people to who power rightfully belongs to, we must all rise in condemnation. Is President Goodluck Jonathan's PDP different from the PDP of Obasanjo, Tony Anenih, Olabode George, Chris Uba, Chimaroke Nnamani, Peter Odili, James Ibori and other "stalwarts" cringing under the apparently dysfunctional UMBLERA? This is indeed a very curious scenario.
Interestingly, Nigerian politicians display a very uncanny art of spin which thrives tremendously because most citizens remain uninformed and aloof. Most of our politicians are men and women of Lilliputian moral standing who see nothing wrong in getting into positions of authority through the back door-in this instance through elections rigging. This could well explain why they are continuously engaged in shady political wheeling and dealing aimed at having their fingers in the till for as long as is possible; forming of "formidable alliances' is the unholy tag given to this treachery. I am yet to understand why a state Governor would spend huge amount of public funds in erecting giant bill boards, ceaseless adverts in both print and electronic media, hiring of ndi otimkpus, all singing his hallelujah for the constructions of roads, sinking of shallow boreholes, re-painting of some wretched "health centers", donating books to schools, paying of salaries, etc. Why do we have governments in place if not to use public funds to meet our societal needs? When will the Governors in the South East stop basking in the polluted euphoria of being addressed as "visionary leaders", "articulate statesmen", "a great achiever", and similar self-indulging praise-names?
The PDP government at every level in the South East is synonymous with failure, deceit, corruption, scandal, betrayal, and the dashing of the hopes of an entire region. It is the same at the Federal level. Nevertheless, I wish to end this piece by displaying my sense of Nigerianess; that gut feeling which pushes us on as a people, that insurmountable hope that our dark moments will come to pass. It is my utmost hope that President Goodluck Jonathan will make spirited efforts towards redefining the art of governance in our country. Collectively as Nigerians, we have suffered enough, an almost tangible spirit of despair has been hovering over our nation for far too long, we have been robbed and raped by our government for far too long too-the PDP led government. I join other Nigerians in insisting that governments cater for the people and not the people holding briefs for charlatan governments that splurge on our patrimony. Until we start reaping those proverbial dividends of democracy, I will continue questioning the rationale behind this senseless support for a PDP that treats the South East as an inferior part of Nigeria.