A popular radio station in Abuja has a programme called themSay. Them Say had a cousin that reigned during the civil war called Radiowithout battery. These are unconfirmed stories which you formally callrumour. Most times it could be favourable and make you hope or laugh especiallyin beer parlours or other leisure places. It has assumed a bigger dimension asit has acquired a political toga and used as a big instrument to blackmail orcorner undeserving votes and favours.
Most of us around Senator T A Orji, staff, aides and some Abiapeople inclusive have been forced to constant rumours peddled againstgovernment or her leaders. Ear tingling most times are in-depth untruths, unimaginablefabrications and mendacity of the highest order. A commentator once said thatit is a sign of greatness when people make what you said and did not say theirbusiness. Put more clearly by anAmerican, ‘If people are trying to pull you down, it only means that you areabove them.’
The Igbos way-back avowed and even have it as a name-Ezebuiro: fame, leadership, success in a collective term- Kingship attractshatred and enemies.
Senator T A Orji’s soaring image has not made it easy fordetractors, political opponents, especially now that there a few jobs. Participationat every level in politics today is free without strict screening or basicentry qualifications. In confirmation of the above line of thought, a knownpolitician in Abia while addressing his supporters shocked the God-fearingamong his listeners when he boldly stated that there is room for all, that infact, his project then needed God and Satan to succeed.
The experience of aformer governor from the western state of Nigeria will throw more light to mystory.
Late Adedibu, known as the strong man of Ibadan politicswaged a serious opposition against the said governor but failed. The strongman made frantic efforts to have audience with thegovernor after the elections but was rebuffed. The governor wondered loudly whatAdedibu wanted, having employed all his evil ploys and antics to sabotage the electionsbut failed. Even his aides dissuaded him for granting the much sought audiencebut trust the Yorubas for their reverence to the elderly and against allconspiratorial winks, nods and nudges, the audience was granted. The governorafter few pleasantries asked the strongman what ailed him.
The baba told him thatthere wasn’t much but to crave a cooperation and understanding. The Governorhad a good laugh and told him pointblank that the time for that had gone havingwon the elections. He reminded him how they pleaded with him in the past but herefused, that there wasn’t much he could do now.
Adedibu made light ofthe whole issue with a few questions.
“Governor, can you fight in public and tear your shirts andrun naked? Can you come to court and bear false witness even swearing all thebooks?’
To all these questionsand more coming, the governor said no amid a guffaw of laughter. Then Adedibusaid, ‘that’s where you need me. You can’t do it all alone.’
The governor in order to save his time and his state frommore troubles and distractions as the old man was noted for high nuisance value,accommodated the old man thereafter.
With the above you can see that politics has become an allcomers event with so many cadres at different departments be they fair or foul.
Back to our text, right from the emergence of Senator T AOrji into politics, extreme and perverse aggressions have been the order. Theelection that threw T A Orji up as governor was a warfront. The fact that PDPhad an edge as the parent party from which his party eloped, heightened the risk for T A when he was put out of circulation withtrumped up charges. The opponents reasoned that it will be easier for them towin the election with him out of the way, but it was never to be.
The hypes continued rather than receding. Arguments raged!The most comfortable for them posited by the leadership boasted that he willnever be sworn in as far as the federal government was in charge of the courts.When he was sworn in on the 29th of May 2007, another argument wenton that he will not last, especially with over 50 law suits that he will be removedby the court. Yes they were nearly right when the tribunal in Umuahia removedhim but it was a short lived victory asanother court reinstated him. Not surprising, wild rumours refused to die till he finished 8solid years of his tenure.
Before long, the PDP in their wisdom realized their folly andcame for their missing ‘rib’ according to Chief Okwesilieze Nwodo, their party Chairman then, who led ahigh powered delegation to Abia.
The peace process thatfollowed revealed the peacemaker in Ochendo as the reconciliation with Chief OnyemaUguchukwu, the guber candidate for PDP presented a worthy peace template to theextent that the two helmsmen are the best of friends today, burying the hatchetswith the handles unlike many cases where hatchets are buried with the handles strategicallyabove the ground as memorials.
While in office somany thrilling innovations were made but skeptics tried all they could to denythe shine from it. I will give few examples.
There were many youthempowerments and skills acquisition programmes in agriculture, mentorship andall but one was seemingly too good to be true and it stood to be the highestnationwide. The car gift to youths to keep them busy trended all over and manywondered if a youth can receive a car without paying a dime. For this, scoresof negative minds insinuated that there were hidden charges to which some ofthe recipients were made to swear to oaths. The coordinator then, HonPrince, Maduka Uwadi, S A on youths toured round, held radioprogrammes, dispelling the rumours but many made up their minds that it cannotbe free. Many took to the pages of newspapers reinforcing their lies and I canname names of writers and their phony newspapers. Today the world knows thetruth and cannot deny that Ochendo doled out cars free of charge.
When the former ALOMA CLINIC, Umuahia, owned by Dr Anagh Ezeikpe, one of the few livingfounding fathers of Abia was acquired bythe state government to house the Abia Specialist Hospital and DiagnosticCenter, they rumoured again that Ochendo had acquired it with government fundfor the daughter in-law who is a medical doctor. This place to the glory of Godsaves lives of Abia people and the sick of other states of the federationtoday.
New trends are normal in human activities especially when it lightensthe burden of the governed. Along this line, the state government hastened toadopt commercial practices trending in other parts of the federation andaccommodated The ShopRite on the premises of the former Umuahia LGASlaughter House in a place called Garki, wild rumor went round that it wasanother Ochendo maneuver but who owns Shoprite today?
When he relocated the former Ogwumabiri Umuahia that hadovergrown its wings from the city centerto a new, spacious place at Ubani, it was wild again that Ochendo had grabbedthe land, a way to disposes the non-indigenes but today the truth is glaring.
During the 2019 elections, some lily livered opponents whowere the least ready for the elections, rather than campaigning for themselves andtheir parties, took to rumour that any vote for Ochendo would be a wasted voteas Ochendo will be caged. Some swore that his name wasn’t in the ballot assecurity men have been dispatched to incarcerate him, but he won the electionin higher numbers catching new areas even in his opponents villages, wards, LGA and subzones.
Having shown gross inability to match or stop Ochendo withlies and imagined stories, they have now intensified all their efforts in theblackmail factor of taking their time to design and print posters and paste inAba and other towns. Can a man who has been through the throes of over 4elections paste posters before declaring his candidacy? Come to think of it, is2023 at hand? Can Ochendo, noted for his humility, human compassion, andadministrative excellence paste posters when the nation is locked down with aravaging disease? Who will read the posters? The people locked down or thosewho are banned from the streets?
It is the desperation of jittery opponents, political schizophrenics,maniacs and miscreants that can lead to such poster frenzy because manydiscerning cannot believe such phantom displays. Ochendo has declared in clearterms that he will not seek reelection and will take a break from the senateafter 2023. So who is in a hurry to frame and demean him?
Not deterred with the weight of their infamy, the NationNewspaper and the West Africa Business News on Sunday and Monday May 17th and18th respectively came with disparaging headlines: How I blew 38.8 billionsecurity votes in 8 years. The big question here is did Senator Orji address thepress as it was made to appear? Are security issues public issues? Who did nothear the dare devil armed robbery and kidnap cases that made some envious ones tocall for the state of emergency to be declared in Abia? U S A and otheradvanced nations had covert operations on in Latin America, Middle East andAsia, have they made their modus apublic book?
In their shameless and desperate maneuvers, they forget thatdestinies differ. In the Igbo cosmology, there is magic in the name. His fathernamed him Ahamefule and it has followed him as his name is not lost. The Orjiname has remained a factor in political reckoning. For many he has been anoasis where the greatly famished have quenched their taste and taken refuge. Heleft Abia better than he met it, among many eye-popping changes, most of all,instituting equity to assuage the politically deprived.
Without boasting, he has coasted ashore moving incrediblyfrom Chief of Staff to be governor and now a two term senator. What I urgethese antagonists is to ask themselves, with all these pervasive deportmentshave they been able to stop Ochendo?
The words of Shannon Alder quoted here will let Ochendo andmany others suffering the same fate realize that they are not alone in this wildfiremisinformation. “There will always be someone willing to hurt you, put youdown, gossip about you, belittle your accomplishments and judge your soul. It isa fact that we all must face. However, if you realize that God is a best friendthat stands beside you when others cast stones you will never be afraid, neverfeel worthless and never feel alone.”