• Monday, July 22, 2024
businessday logo


Orji and new meaning to governance (2)


Ochendoism as a new form of political administration derives its thematic and moral suasion from the Igbo cosmological connotations of the word, Ochendo, as a protector and a defender. The idea is encapsulated in the word. The Igbo of Eastern Nigeria speak word to action and hold the word as not only the conveyor of meaning but the carrier of character and destiny. The spoken word, to this race, is a sacred covenant which carries both spiritual and metaphysical underpinnings and which invariably influence the life and actions of the individual.  The Igbo are careful about names for they are verdicts of destiny.

When Governor Orji was conferred with the title of Ochendo, it may not have occurred to him that he was entering into a spiritual covenant and ascribing a new destiny that were going to be manifest in his style of political administration. He has, ever since, remained the big umbrella accommodating all Abians, protecting life and defending our collective patrimony. Being a seasoned technocrat and bureaucrat, the vision of the three Rs (Rebirth, Rebuilding and Restitution) naturally became a permanent character of his administration. The result was a rebirth which found expression in the new vision of rebuilding the state and laying solid foundations for the posterity.

These three ideals were translated in the governor’s dogged determination to rebuild trust and social cohesion amongst groups in the Abia polity by addressing the primordial sentiments and grievances arising from feelings of marginalization and political domination as it relates to the people of the old Aba Province, the Ukwa Ngwas. The governor’s insistence on power rotation in the state and his firm decision to hand over power to a candidate from Abia South were landmark decisions that reinforced the cardinal principles of the three Rs and also healed age-old inner resentments. By raising the bar of equity and insisting that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander, Ochendo went down in history as a jinx breaker. Today, he has taken on the sublime status which the great inspirational writer, Stephen Covey, in his book, Everyday Greatness, described as “the transition man” – a person “who breaks the flow of bad”.

Thus, Ochendoism is about the moral imperative of social justice and equity. It is a principle that seeks to address the problems inherent in a society of diverse groups by widening the political space and guaranteeing everyone access to the highest offices in the land. It is the tampering of power with remorse and compassion. It is the background that informs the governor’s predilection for attending to the poor and needy and the background to the government’s large-scale programme of empowerment. The Youth Empowerment Programme of the state has become a reference point in the study of the social responsibility functions of government.

Indeed, the programme is a landmark platform through which the governor has continued to engage and empower the teeming youths of the state. The government has invested huge sums of money and resources in running and maintaining this critical sector. The narrative is enshrined in yellow-coloured automobiles which are given out freely to the youth. They come in a variety of form, model, brand and make. They also come in classes. There are the long caravans, the small taxis, the mini buses that do the long inter-state journeys, the tricycles and the posh trucks of class and comfort. They all bear tell-tales of the glories of Abia and speak about a renaissance and the new regime of people-oriented government.

In Abia, the yellow colour has transformed into a mental syndrome which does not only represent the scheme but serves also as a symbol of hope and promise for the Abia youth. It is a loud proclamation of the new political philosophy that I call Ochendoism. Coming in the same territory with the empowerment programme is the first lady’s Hannah May Foundation, a pet humanitarian project under which the first lady has improved the lives of many youths and under-privileged in society. Her Excellency’s skill acquisition centre has to date trained over 800 youths in a six-month intensive programme in tailoring, sewing, fashion designing, fish farming, interior decoration, photography, GSM operations, etc. There is also an emphasis on the educational development of the state. Primary and secondary education is tuition-free in state-owned institutions.

Indeed, Ochendoism also found expression in the new programme of infrastructural renewal. Except for the initial construction works by the Federal Government, like the old secretariat, no former administrator both military and civilian embarked on building monumental projects until Governor Orji came on board. No single crane was deployed to work in the entire state. Today, Abia can boast of a befitting government house, a world-class multi-purpose conference centre, a twin four-storey edifice that serves as the new state secretariat and a modern e-library and ICT centre to boost learning and research. There are new high court building, new modern offices for the Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State (BCA) and a host of other projects that are captured in what Abians call the regime of legacy projects.

Among other things, it also found expression in the governor’s effort to revitalize the state primary health care delivery system. Under this project, he established a world-class specialist diagnostic and dialysis centre in Umuahia and Aba and also upgraded all facilities at the state-owned specialist hospital at Amachara and Abayi, to the extent that they are the most functional and adequately staffed state-owned hospitals around the South East. As a tertiary referral centre, Abia’s diagnostic centres are readily accessed by a cross section of Nigerians. Patients who would have been flown abroad for emergency medical treatment are now patronizing the Abia diagnostic centres which boast of world-class, state-of-the-art equipment.

The Amachara Hospital also retains an annex of the ultra-modern diagnostic centres with a new new chest clinic. The governor also constructed 250 new primary healthcare centres across the 17 local government areas of the state. These primary healthcare centres are geared towards making healthcare available to Abians and visitors, especially those at the hinterlands. The government also set up 100-bed hospitals in nine LGAs carefully selected from the three senatorial zones of the state, covering Arochukwu, Ohafia, Umuahia South, and Okeikpe. Others are in Ikwuano, Aba North, Obi Ngwa, Ugwunagbo and Osisioma

Essentially, this is but a brief reflection of what Ochendoism as form of government represents. It is notably revolutionary in nature as it stems from the premise of change. Revolution is not just about taking up arms and overthrowing an existing political system. Revolution is also about taking drastic steps that progressively expand the frontiers of human existence and this is the core of Ochendoism.

Godwin Adindu