Statesmanship of Senator T A Orji and the ‘not-too-Young-to-run’ policy

By Eddie Onuzuruike

The life of man may be phased into 3, 4, or more stages depending on the school of thought. Thomas
Manson postulated 12 stages in his work, the human odyssey. Other notable authorities like Mark
Manson and Integris Health, an Oklahoma based thinktank projected differently. For the sake of this
article, let us work with the infancy stage, teenage, youth, adulthood and the aged.

Nature has made it that man should retire, play lesser active roles, by teaching, mentoring and directing

From a rich observatory point, people in present day Nigeria, especially the adult and the aged find
retirement scary. Even those in the civil and public services who hitherto had a well-structured
retirement template now crave for more active roles even when it is obvious that they are not physically
and medically fit. Look at the spate of changes in retirement ages of judges and teachers. The growing
trend can be as a result of unpaid and unsteady pensions, disloyalty and faithless followership coupled
with challenging financial realities and not having reliable successors to fall back on where necessary.

In the history of Nigeria, the sixties, seventies and eighties saw youths leading in Nigeria. Recall Matthew
Mbu, Okotie Eboh, who were youthful ministers in the first republic. M. I. Opara, Premier of Eastern
Region and his counterparts in the north and west were relatively young. Ironsi who emerged as the first
military leader, followed by Gowon, Babaingida, Abacha were scarcely 50 years old, especially Gowon
who married in the State House in Lagos as a military leader.

Sadly, gerontocracy took root and has refused to shift grounds even with the ‘Not Too Young to Run
policy of the Buhari Government. Even Obasanjo who was worldly acclaimed for being the first military
officer to hand over unconditionally to civilians regretted when he surreptitiously worked on regime

elongation, seeking to change the constitution in the scandalous third term agenda that many worked
against and made the National Assembly uproarious then.

Hear him as he argued and bemoaned his predicament with Atiku, his deputy. In a book by Dr Fresh
Onuoha titled ‘Atiku is the Answer,’ page 114, Obasajo said, ‘I left power twenty years ago, I left
Mubarak in office, I left Mugabe in office, I left Eyadema in office, I left Umar Bongo, and even Paul Biya
and I came back and they are still in power, and I just did eight years and you are asking me to go, why?”

Contrary to all these fears of the sit-tight mentality and despite the distractions, it is cheering that some
Nigerians are still principled and disciplined, resolute in mending this disorientation of sit-tight
mentality, even when irrelevant.

One of such men today is Senator T A Orji who has been a constant personality in National affairs and
like the old wine is seasoned enough to chart a new direction. Coming from a staunch civil service
background, he served as chief-of-staff for 8 years, Governor for 8 years, now in the Senate for six years
and still counting. You can say, 22 years of uninterrupted political service and leadership of his people.
He has sworn to bow out after the 9th Senate ending in 2023.

His recent activities are indicators of a fulfilled man exiting the scene and stepping into the super
statesmanship category, practically bowing out when the ovation is loudest.

On June 30, 2021, he was in Port Harcourt with his entourage as the guest of Governor Wike of Rivers
State who invited him to inaugurate some of his multiple projects that have earned him the sobriquet of
Mr Projects. Not far from his Rivers State encounter, he was at his constituency where one of his ardent
followers, Hon. Darlington Nwokocha, Rep for Isi Ala Ngwa North and South Fed Constituency who lined
out projects to be inaugurated and named the legislative building he constructed after Senator T A Orji.

In his speech in PH, he thanked the Rivers strongman for the recognition and urged him to continue his
good works of project multiplication, fierce protection of his people and touching lives at home and
abroad. He added new names to Wike as action governor and Governor Ho-ha, a man who is brave
enough to say the truth, no matter whose ox is gored but harped on Wike to intensify efforts in
grooming a successor who will continue in his speed and energy of founding more projects so that the
people of Rivers State now used to performance will not fall into an antithetical mentality and tempt
Wike into regrets in retirement or push him into dreaming of a comeback.

For Senator Orji, the political nightmares may not be much as he already has a successor in Rt Hon
Chinedum Orji now the speaker of Abia House of Assembly who is doing wonderfully well in his sworn
political mission to make the best of our disgruntled youths of Nigeria in making a legislative foray. His
residence and office have become Mecca of sorts as they throng these places for solace and survival.

We plead that many of our leaders should emulate this nationalistic gesture of Senator Orji making the
political waters navigable for the youths.

Eddie Onuzuruike wrote from Abuja.

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