• Friday, April 19, 2024
businessday logo


Orji’s new mandate for South-East


  At a time like this when the political firmament is heating up and there seems to be uncertainty, it is necessary for any group to have a sense of direction. Today’s piece is a well-meaning effort to challenge a popular norm – the belief that the Igbo, by their peculiar republican nature, are incapable of creating a central leadership or coming under one horizontal form of power control. Right from the colonial era when indirect rule could not sail through comfortably in the old Eastern Region due to the absence of existing traditional forms of authority, the belief has been rife that the Igbo are one species of homo-sapiens that cannot come under any form of figure-head leadership. This is a grand fallacy.

Indeed, gone are the days of stereotyped fallacies. And God, in His infinite wisdom, has provided a light for direction for the South-East. Indeed, by sheer dint of hard work and achievement, Governor Theodore Orji of Abia State has emerged as the new credible face of the South-East and a symbol of true leadership. He has expanded the frontiers of leadership beyond Abia and has taken up a new challenge for South-East re-integration.

Though the average Igbo is self-enterprising and highly independent-minded, a quality that does not give room for captive loyalty, the tide of times has always thrown up leaders in the people’s long trajectory. But, unlike the South-West or the North famous for their monarchical institutions, leadership for the South-East has always been a product of individual visionary actions. There was a leader in Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, Michael Okpara, Jaja Wachukwu, all of blessed memory. There are more.

But, regrettably, this well-seated thinking of Igbos’ inability to conglomerate under one umbrella has only served as an albatross, especially in the political field. The result is the failure of organised strategy. This is why I hold the opinion that kudos must go to Governor Orji of Abia for expanding his leadership horizon to forge an integration of the South-East. No Igbo leader since Okpara has thought in the direction of a long-term development agenda for the entire South-East. This agenda has formed part of Orji’s global picture of leadership for a people in search of a unifying identity.

This new vision for the South-East has, indeed, set Orji high on the pedestal as the new quintessential Igbo spokesperson and leader. Before now, many self-styled volunteers have been filling the gap. But today, that lacuna in the people’s political existence has been filled. There is a testimonial for Orji’s new political mandate. The evidence is the new society of peace, law and order which he has built in Abia and which is a necessary condition for all other socio-economic activities of man. With this new social order coupled with the legion of outstanding legacy projects and the developmental programmes that have added value to the lives of Abians, it is self-evident that the Abia governor is the most credible personality to hold the South-East mantle.

Thus, it is the fullness of time for the South-East. With a unifying figure like Governor Orji, there is need for a new collective culture of fellowship under one political banner. There is the need for the South-East to forge a pattern of group association under the leadership of the dynamic governor of God’s Own State. Apart from being a veritable platform for our political engagements and negotiations come 2015, the Orji leadership of the South-East will provide the much-needed roadmap that the Igbo desire for the sustainable development of the area.

The issues are: what are the expectations of the South-East in the current Nigerian project? Who has the tact, diplomacy and the radicalism required to contest for and gain the rights of the South-East? With old political structures being overtaken by time, it is high time the South-East re-invented itself. One giant and crucial step in consolidating the political unity of the zone is the crowning of an acceptable leader and this will be a milestone in the political evolutionary circle of the Igbo. For a people known for their industry and self-determinism, a suitable leader must be a man who can stand without blemish. Without any iota of doubt, Governor Orji represents the very symbol of the much-desired modern leader, not just of the Igbo but of Nigeria.

There is a new global trend in symbolic leadership epitomised by the revolution of Orji in cleansing the Augean stable in Abia. The South-East must break off from the past when leaders emerged out of the exigencies of the times. By virtue of his achievements and the loud echo that resonates with his personhood, Orji is indeed the quintessential leader that the South-East so desperately needs. Governor Orji has a clean record and a credible pedigree. His trajectory through the corridors of power has been exemplary. He has proven that the problem with Nigeria is not in our stars but with the men who have stridden through the seat of power.

Orji, the liberator, has led a successful revolution that has changed the face of Abia State through his infrastructural renewal project. He has proven to be a true patriot and therefore a very credible candidate for leadership in the emerging community called the nation. Well-read, well-groomed, he is a comfortable bridge that could intersect for the sophistication of the emerging world. He has demonstrated a good appreciation of the dynamics of the Igbo spirit. And this is a milestone for a group with a history of individualism. The indication is that Orji has the capacity to harness the enterprising spirit of the South-East for successful participation in the new Nigeria of our dreams, where all will be united by our common humanity.

Since the days of the First Republic and since after Sam Mbakwe, there has not been any leader of the South-East that has demonstrated good knowledge of political leadership as Orji. No other leader has been as people-oriented as the Icon of Democracy. None has caused a total liberation of the people. There may have been popular leaders, but there has not been any such detailed and visionary leader. None has ever thought of the entire South-East as a family. None has taken concrete steps for the South-East unity. This, precisely, is my humble reasons for calling for the anointment of Governor Orji as the new mantle-bearer for the South-East.