”You cannot legislate a society of law and order into existence. Neither can you cause it by fiat. You build. Law and order are the conditions for all other socio-economic activities of man,” wrote Alozie Ogugbuaja in his controversial memo on The People’s Police. I draw from the perspectives of that courageous and reputable police spokesman to argue that societal peace, which is a product of law and order, is a cardinal human need. But, unfortunately, Abraham Maslow, the legendary psychologist, missed this point in his theory of the hierarchy of human need. There is something inherently rooted in the human spirit that Maslow obviously forgot to reckon with. And that is the desire for peace.
Indeed, many years after the learned psychologist, another man, not holding degrees in the intricate study of the human mind but schooled in the art of statesmanship, is discovering the inextricable link between a peaceful and harmonious society and self-actualisation. This man is Governor Theodore Orji of Abia State, the holder of the award of National Ambassador of Peace. If you realise that the first primary duty of government is the maintenance of law and order and the greatest achievement any leader can make is the sustenance of peace in the land, then you would appreciate Orji’s sacrifice in building an Abia of peace and harmony.
Truly, contrary to Maslow’s hierarchy, human need cannot end in self-actualisation. All through the ladder to the top, the human spirit has a desire for peace. The high pinnacles of self-actualisation cannot make any meaning to the individual without law and order. This is why Thomas Hobbes, the great English statesman, added that life is short and brute in a society where all ceremonial laws are nonexistent – what he referred to as the state of nature. Maslow would obviously not produce his self-actualised man in a state of lawlessness and violence.
For Governor Orji, peace and an atmosphere of law and order are the very ultimate of human need. Anybody who has experienced war like the Igbos of the Biafran generation would agree with Orji. In a state of anarchy, people abandon their shelter to find refuge in the cold corners of the bush. Nobody talks about the need for social acceptance or recognition. Nobody remembers the desire for comfort or pleasure. Self-actualisation becomes an illusion. The only drive and need becomes the protection and preservation of life.
It is on the basis of the importance of law and order and a sustainable atmosphere of peace that one must give kudos to the dynamic governor of Abia for his vision of building a new society of peace out of the wreckage of the past. Orji inherited a society hanging precariously on the precipice of anarchy. He inherited an Abia where kidnappers and other sundry criminals were the lords of the manor. But today, Abia State is standing tall in the federation as a model state in terms of law and order and social harmony. And this was not legislated into existence but a product of committed and pragmatic action. Indeed, Orji is giving his heart and soul to the politics of service and the result is that today the residents sleep with their doors wide open. In the new mandate for the South-East, his vision is to translate the Abia model state into an overall regional status. Orji’s vision for the South-East is to provide the workable mechanism with which total law and order will be achieved for the entire geo-political zone. In this new mandate for the South-East regional re-integration, law and order, youth empowerment, and general social transformation are paramount.
At a time of global anarchy when violence has been let loose on earth and blood has dented our lands, peace becomes a treasured diamond. Law and order becomes an oasis for a hapless wanderer. In Nigeria particularly, it has been a regime of violence. From kidnapping in the South-South and South-East to Boko Haram in the North, and so on, Nigeria has been a state under siege. But, in the midst of this upheaval, Orji’s Abia has been an oasis of sanity. With a sincere sense of purpose, he sanitised the streets of Aba and Umuahia and staged an intensive fight against insecurity in all its manifestations.
But, as the black American civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr., once observed: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The sad news of kidnapping emanating from neighbouring states and other sundry criminal activities and spate of insecurity still reigning in some parts of the region are obviously a threat to the peace of Abia. So also is the regime of bloodbath in the entire Nigeria. They all constitute a threat to the ideal of law and order.
Thus, today, Orji is audaciously saying after the legendary Ghanaian leader, Kwame Nkrumah, that the liberation of Abia is meaningless unless it is linked up to the total liberation of the entire South-East. Orji is speaking to the Igbo, that the revolution he orchestrated in Abia that has progressively expanded the frontiers of existence and uplifted the lives of the ordinary citizens will be meaningless unless such transformation is transmuted to the other states of the South-East. This is precisely the new mandate and the new mission for this visionary leader.
But, unlike Nkrumah whose vision was only of the political and economic stability of Africa, Orji is taking a holistic view to look at both the political, economic, social and cultural cohesion of the much marginalised South-East. He has the blueprint for a united and independent South-East. At such critical crossroads, Ndigbo need a mature and tactical negotiator who can engage power in a debate without ruffling the feathers. Ndigbo need a leader at the centre who has a larger picture of the Igbo predicament. Greetings to Ochendo for taking up this mandate for his people!