Greed and insatiability blinded his vision and he fell to the slyness of the Serpent, which tempted him to eat the forbidden fruit at the centre of the Garden of Eden, contrary to God’s explicit instruction. Instead of repenting and showing remorse, man has continued to falter with impunity. Probably this accounts for the perfidy that pervades relationships among people, especially between two persons who have, ab inito, agreed to work congenially and truthfully.
I have drawn this analogy in search of the reason Governor Theodore Ahamefule Orji is never tired telling loathsome lies against me. He concocts these lies as smoothly as he shaves his beards. Indeed, he has perfected the act of telling lies such that I doubt if I can ever believe anything he tells me again in life. I am pained that a man I placed so much trust and hope in could stab me in the back so mercilessly, working frenetically to destroy whatever reputation I have built over the years. His desperation is something out of the ordinary. The latest in the series of his deliberate lies against me is the story he bandies about that he dumped me because I led him and some of my commissioners to a shrine at Okija (in Anambra State) to swear to an oath of allegiance. Who took whom to Okija and in what circumstances? What incredulity!
I must confess that I was shocked to the marrow of my bones when I heard this puerile and ludicrous allegation. From where did he get the idea to tell this destructive lie against my person? Okija! Facts are sacred and immutable. If that is the case then the records of my movements as governor between 1999 and 2007 are explicit and straight. The only time I visited Okija, in all of my life, was when I was invited to a function at a Catholic Church in the town. I travelled in my official capacity as governor of Abia State. At the end of the event I visited the residence of my friend and the chairman of Nestoil, where we had lunch together. The Parish Priest of the Catholic Church and the chairman of Nestoil are all still alive to corroborate my story.
God in heaven is my witness that I have never taken anybody (I repeat anybody) let alone Theodore Orji, to Okija. Okay let me ask him some salient questions. First, assuming he was taken to Okija (by any other person, definitely not me) was he taken hands and legs tied or did he go voluntarily?
Second, what informed his decision to agree to go to Okija (in the first place) to swear to an oath when he knew it was not proper for him (or any other person for that matter) to do so? Third, was he blinded by greed and avarice to have accepted to mortgage his conscience (so to speak) to do what in his estimation was odious? Fourth, can he name the commissioners (if any) who were taken with him to Okija for the oath-taking? Fifth, why did it take him so long and after I had advised him to buckle up and work for Abia people before telling the whole world that I took him to Okija? Was it an after-thought or something premeditated to discredit me? Sixth, would it not have been more honourable for him to have resigned when he realised that going to Okija to swear to an oath was unchristian, irreligious, immoral and unethical? Seventh, can he support his allegation with incontrovertible evidence when called upon to do so? There are many more rational questions to put a lie to his allegation.
Nevertheless, Theodore Orji has a moral obligation to answer the questions above as sincerely as possible. It is not enough to make lousy accusations against an innocent person without any supporting evidence. The onus lies on him to prove that which he has alleged. He knows that for the period he worked with me as Chief of Staff we never meddled in any idolatry. I am a Christian in faith and practice, and I hold my faith with absolute care and pride. I know I am a sinner working to become a saint. However, my sinfulness has not got to the point of tampering with that, which stands against my faith. To a good Christian, idolatry is not only nauseating and repulsive, it is antithetical with decency.
Theodore Orji knows deep down in his heart that he tells cheap lies against me. I have given reasons I settled for him to succeed me in the preceding editions to this one, and none of them included any doubt about his loyalty then. Could I have been so foolish as to throw my weight behind somebody I knew would betray me in future? I wrote in last week’s edition of this column that the man never betrayed any sign of disloyalty throughout the eight years he served as my Chief of Staff. That did not mean that some persons who had encountered him and had bitter experience to share did not forewarn me about the man’s doubtful loyalty and peevishness. I did not believe them, because I do not operate with gossips. Those who know me very well would tell you that I do not spare gossips. If you come to me with a story against someone else, what I usually do is to invite the accused for you to corroborate your story in his presence. This has discouraged many people from coming to me with fake or false stories against another person.
Let me repeat it here why I think the man may be angry with me. It started in 2009 when I called him to advise him to improve on his performance as governor. Followers of political developments in Abia State would testify to the fact that the man was not doing anything tangible to deliver quality dividends of democracy to our people. Aba residents were threatening to take to the streets to protest because of the state of infrastructure in the city and other parts of the state. When nothing changed, I called him again in 2010 and advised him not to run for a second term since his first term was an abysmal failure.
These pieces of advice did not go down well with him and his collaborators, and so he decided to choose the path of infamy by first dumping the Progressive Peoples’ Alliance (PPA) – the political platform on which he rode to power – for All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). Less than two months in APGA, against all the assurances he gave the late Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu that he would never defect from the party, he dumped it and moved to Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), where he today parades himself as if he were the founder of the party. The truth is that the man is a total stranger to politics and PDP – a party I and other well-meaning Nigerians spent our hard-earned resources and time to found. It was I who brought him into PDP and laid the foundation for him to become governor, which he got on a platter. This is why he does not know what tangible thing to do with the office other than intimidate and harass innocent citizens of the state.
I care no hoot about all the accusations he has continued to levy against me on a daily basis since he knows they are blatantly false. Why did he have to wait all these years before making these false claims? Abia people know very well the man is lying, which is why they have never ceased accusing him of non-performance. All the promises he made in his inaugural address to Abians on May 29, 2007 have not been fulfilled. Whoever dares challenge him is dealt with brutally. Abians are living in bondage as you read this piece.
For the eight years I served as the governor of Abia State, I never entered into any personal deals with anybody or borrowed money from local banks as alleged by him. He was present throughout my tenure as governor and knew what my attitude was about borrowing and kick-backs. I discouraged my commissioners or any staff for that matter from taking bribe from anybody. Those who dared were either cautioned or sacked outright. The only money the office of the governor controlled was the security vote which he (Theodore Orji) took charge of and disbursed accordingly. Again, I never spent money not duly appropriated. The security vote is a legitimate and legal constitutional provision backed by relevant laws for the security of lives and property in the state. It can be attested to that for the duration of our administration there was not a single political killing or kidnapping in our state. We ensured all-round security through community policing, job creation and effective surveillance that made it impossible for criminals to find their way into Abia State.
In terms of physical development, we recorded massive infrastructural development with the paltry allocations we received from the federation account and internally-generated revenue. Despite the paucity of funds we were able to attend to the needs of our people and ensured peace and tranquility. It is not the purpose of this article to enumerate our achievements while in office. But it may not be out of place to point out that within the first one year of our eight-year tenure alone we were able to do over 75 roads, renovate 155 schools, pay workers’ salaries up-to-date, including the two-month arrears inherited from the preceding administration. In the entire eight-year tenure we were able to reconstruct over 750 primary and secondary schools, built many hospitals and health centres, treated over 20,000 persons in the rural areas through our health scheme, paid salaries before the 25th of every month. We built an ultra-modern Commissioners’ quarters, a stadium, a gigantic edifice in Abuja to serve as liaison office, some housing estates, numerous roads (which he now claims he did) and a conference centre, etc. The list is endless.
I think it is the height of insincerity and dishonor for somebody to place a name tag on a project he did not do. Theodore Orji knows that he is a total failure. That is why, in his desperation to justify the huge resources he has collected from the federation account, he is laying claim to projects he did not put a dime in. All existing pliable roads in the state, especially in the hinterland, were done by our administration, not his. These facts are verifiable.
Interestingly, by the time we left office in 2007 we left no financial liability. The only thing that happened was that we had to take an overdraft from the bank to pay salaries and other obligations for the month of June 2007, since the then President Olusegun Obasanjo directed the Minister of Finance not to pay states their allocations for June 2007. The understanding with the bank was that whenever the allocation was eventually released the account would be settled. And that was what happened. So, it would be wicked for anybody to accuse us of leaving behind a huge debts.
Theodore Orji knows the truth even where he tries futilely to bend it. The real person owing and taking money recklessly from the banks is he. The facts and figures are verifiable. In fact, some of the banks he alleged we took money from had no branches in Umuahia at the time we left office. So, from where did he get all the figures he is reeling out without supporting documents?
The irony of the whole stuff is that he was my Chief of Staff for eight uninterrupted years and never caught me doing anything bad. Why is he making a mountain out of a mole-hill now?
All what he did for eight years we were in office was to sit in Government House, doing paper work! He was not involved in the management of the ministries or supervision of projects. Maybe he would have been better grounded in project implementation and management if he had been directly involved in these projects at the time.
By washing his dirty linen in public the man has succeeded in exposing his penchant for loyalty-swap, drudgery, treachery and baseness. I wonder how those he is currently close to feel about him. As usual he will hide his real person and present a pretentious personality. I am sorry for such people, because what goes around comes around.
As I had written earlier in this column I have never had anything personal against the man. I respected him for his age when he was my Chief of Staff. I knew some of my brother-governors who openly advised me against supporting somebody who served under me for eight years as Chief of Staff to succeed me. I told them my mind was made up to hand over to my Chief of Staff, more so, I had nothing to hide. Any right-thinking person should have known that I would not have handed over to him if I had any skeletons in my cupboard. I was convinced that I ran a transparent and credible government and, therefore, had no cobwebs in my room.
Let him know it today that the campaign of calumny he has mounted against me will fail like a pack of cards. They have already failed, indeed. Feelers reaching me show that there are many who hold grudges against him, but do not know how to ventilate their anger in the open for fear of the unknown. This is why I have offered to be a voice for such people. I do not pretend he would sit down and not respond to my allegations. Surely, he will reply me, and the form it will take is already obvious: garbage and gibberish, innuendoes and tantrums. Whichever one he chooses, I am ready to deal with it. After all, I kept quiet for almost 8 years, while he insulted and castigated me. Is there no limit to the insolence one can absorb?
I pray God to open his eyes to see what curses he is bringing upon himself for choosing to pay back evil for good and dancing in the market square like a drunken sailor or the Eneke Ntioba (the bird in a folklore, which after consuming a bowl of pounded yam and a keg of palmwine, challenged its Chi (God) to a wrestling contest. The beauty of life is that one day we will be called upon to give account of our lives on earth before the Divine Throne of the Most Powerful God. How will Theodore Orji expect to be judged: as a good man or an evil man who betrayed his former boss for a mess of portage? We await the judgement of God, which defies human logic, calculations and permutations.