Abia's Battleground For Refined v Destructive Opposition - JOK



* Ikpeazu
By John Okiyi Kalu

Earlier today, a negative story on a south west Governor broke and a friend of mine called a leading opposition figure from that state to confirm the story. After waiting for sometime for a response from his contact, my friend called back to ask again, especially given that the opposition media operative refused to share the negative story online or comment on it publicly.

His response will interest you:
“My brother, we can’t share or publicize that story because it will bring shame and de-market our state. We only oppose on the basis of policy and not to destroy our state or its Governor”.

Since that time I have been pondering on the nature of political opposition we have in Abia, in particular, and Ala Igbo, in general.

Abusing a Governor just for its sake in my state, will earn you applause and recognition while falsely accusing your Governor or making fake videos against him is seen as an act of patriotism. Conversely, applauding  any good thing done by the Governor is seen as “sycophancy” or “selling out” and if you dare see or report anything good happening in our state when you are working for opposition politicians you have committed a sin worth being “stoned” for.

* Kalu 
In my state, even if you have nothing to litigate after an election, you are encouraged to take whoever defeated you to court, waste the time and resources of the person and generally ensure that he is distracted from working for the people. Indeed, it is unnatural to lose elections in my state and so you must come out and claim you won while others rigged even when you were clearly defeated in a free and fair election. You also dare not allow someone who defeated you at the polls to succeed in delivering dividends of democracy to the people. You must throw everything at him to affect his performance, deny his achievements and confuse the people about them.

Just recently, an  acquaintance of mine working for the opposition in Abia State visited me and I took him to where he bought 3 bags of Abia rice for his family. When I recently made the post on Abia rice he commented that, of course, he likes the rice and is aware of its existence in the market but added that the state government should build more rice mills and give financial grants to farmers to produce more.

According to him, after making that comment his phone rang endlessly and his inbox was inundated with messages from his party men who wanted answers on whether he is still with them.

Uwa nkea sef...

After the general elections of 2019, one opposition candidate approached the tribunal to invalidate an election he was involved in but while we were discussing another issue he told me why he lost. I then asked why he chose to go to court even when he knew why he lost and he said if he doesn’t go to court his supporters will say PDP bribed him.

Can you imagine that logic?

Have you seen pictures of bad Abia roads circulated via social media with captions suggesting that Aba and Abia are dead and decaying? What you may not know is that our own opposition folks search through social media to find bad roads or pictures of flooded areas from all over the world and then rename the images “Aba”. When you do reverse picture search and show them where the fake image originated from, they will shamelessly respond with “Abia is dead”. If they can’t find enough bad road pictures from other states in Nigeria, they will take photographs of bad federal roads in our state or neighboring states and use them to abuse the state government instead of simply asking the federal government to come and help us.

Make no mistake about this, we have our fair share of bad roads requiring attention with the worst hit being federal roads in the state. The state government is working on many state and federal roads with more than 76 delivered already but beyond the social media cosmetics we have better internal roads in our cities than most states in same income bracket as us in Nigeria.

With what Governor Ikpeazu did early in his administration with regard to flood water management, we have been able to survive the heaviest and most sustained onslaught of rains ever experienced in recent history without Aba going under the curse of life threatening flooding.

In the main, less than an hour after the heaviest of now persistent rains at Aba the water recedes through the gutters to the natural storm water collection points in the state. Nobody in Abia opposition dare state or acknowledge this glaring fact but will rather prefer to badmouth Aba so that nobody visits to buy from our traders.

You can imagine a governorship candidate going to his base in Lagos to tell the media that Aba was a ghost town based on what he saw on the 26th of December, 2018. Even when he schooled in Aba and must have known that by 24th of December every year our people lock up all markets and head to their villages.

Another former Governorshop candidate who came to political limelight during an earlier administration known for constructing “Ozigbo Ozigbo Dubai“ roads without gutters claimed that we have taken “five years to construct Osisioma flyover” without as much as checking the exact date the project was flagged off. When confronted with facts on when and why the work is correctly slow because of the rains, he said we should have brought rain makers to hold the rain from April to October so that the work could have been completed.

Chineke mere umu ya ebere!

While others are protecting their states and Governors, even while in opposition, our own people hire people to conjure stories and fake videos against the state and Governor. They even pay to appear before the media to tell lies like “he has done nothing and if I see anything he has done I will acknowledge...the state is dead” even when I personally saw them driving through roads done by the same sitting Governor.

The truth is that those engaged in such negative politics are not necessarily hurting the Governor and government as much as they are hurting common folks of Abia. They are hurting our state, our traders, our farmers, our students and our unemployed graduates including those they pay meager stipends to come to social media to badmouth the state. God forbid, if they ever get to govern this state after 2023 may be then they will reap from the evil seed they have sown for more than 5 years now. Otherwise, God will likely reward them with near success syndrome.

Every Abian is free to ask the government to do XYZ or ask for more. Every responsible government must recognize and safeguard the right of citizens to constructively criticize, demand more service, even if you are doing well, as well as lead you towards what the people want most at any particular time. But no reasonable Abian should receive money to destroy his own state or lie against and abuse our leaders simply because of politics.

If we promote our state and the work of our people, we will collectively prosper, but if we destroy our state and people, we will collectively be destroyed.

O metara buru..

* Kalu is Commissioner for Information, Abia State Government
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