Adindu: Ochendoism As A Political Philosophy

BY the time Governor Theodore Orji of Abia State runs his full circle on the hot seat, he would not only have left a legacy of a stable state and a stable polity, he would be adding a new lexicon to the political books and a new theory to political philosophy.  I call it, Ochendoism. Many years to come, students of the history of ideas and students of political philosophy would marvel at the fact that, contrary to the popular norm, Governor Orji did not set out to propound a theory.  He did not consciously set out to add to the body of knowledge. Yet, he gave a new meaning to governance. Ochendoism, as a new form of government, is a historical accident. 

  It derives its thematic and moral suasion from the Igbo cosmological connotations of the word, Ochendo, as a protector and a defender. The idea is encapsulated in the word. The Igbo of Eastern Nigeria speak word to action and hold the word as not only the conveyor of meaning but the carrier of character and destiny. The spoken word, to this race, is a sacred covenant which carries both spiritual and metaphysical underpinnings and which invariably influence the life and actions of the individual. Igbos are careful about names for they are verdicts of destiny. By the time he took the title of Ochendo, the governor entered into a covenant and ascribed a new destiny that would be manifest in his style of political administration. He has, ever since, remained the big umbrella accommodating all Abians, protecting life and defending the collective patrimony.

  As a peculiar historical progression, Ochendoism is a new norm of governance and a new culture of political administration as demonstrated by Orji in his adventures in Abia.  Simply defined, it   is the government of rebirth, restitution and rebuilding (RRR); the government of the three Rs. It is an ethical imperative that saw a leader healing a traumatised people and rebuilding a polarised and fractured polity. It is the vision of a new rebirth that drove a leader to create a new beginning and a new society out of the wreckages of the past. 

  These three ideals were translated in the governor’s determination to rebuild trust and social cohesion amongst groups in the Abia polity by addressing the primordial sentiments and grievances arising from feelings of marginalisation and political domination as it relates to the people of the old Aba Province, the Ukwa Ngwas. The governor’s insistence on power rotation in the state and his decision to hand over power to a candidate from Abia South were landmark decisions that reinforced the cardinal principles of the three Rs and healed age-old inner resentments. By raising the bar of equity and insisting that what is good for the goose is also good for gander, Ochendo went down in history as a jinx breaker. Today, he has taken on the sublime status which the great inspirational writer, Stephen Covey, in his book, Everyday Greatness, described as “the transition man” – a person  “who breaks the flow of bad”.

  Essentially, the theory expands the frontiers of governance to add the agenda of peace and equity as a cardinal mandate of the king. It distills from the time-honoured definitions of power and democracy to prescribe, for the leader, the moral mandate of causing an attitudinal change, creating a new culture and evolving a new state out of an orientation that leaned towards barbarism. In this new Abia, Orji   demystified the office of the executive governor and presented himself as an ordinary mortal with feelings, remorse and compassion.  In this spirit, he opened himself to feel the concerns of every citizen. He received and replied every message directly. 

   Ochendoism is revolutionary in practice as it breaks class structures and creates a synergy between idealism in power and pragmatism.  Orji demonstrated that the king must be the leader of all men and must appreciate the varieties of our common humanity.  He dispersed power and created a rainbow coalition that involved the broad spectrum of the Abia society. Every group had a voice and a good representation.

• Adindu is the President-general of the Abia Renaissance Movement (ARM)

  Indeed, history must note that Ochendoism as a political philosophy emerged out of pragmatic action.  Governor Orji’s political birth was into a raging war. He   inherited nothing but war. History placed on his laps a society that was visibly at war, a state that was highly polarized and where the parties were at daggers drawn. Thus, his first major preoccupation was with social reconstruction.  He would only succeed if he breaks off from the festering chain of an overbearing predecessor, pull the state and the people out of a cultural captivity and create a new world order. He took the bull by the horns and stamped his feet on the soil of Abia State as a visionary leader. 

  Having ousted a regime of anarchy with all its bloody vestiges and brought a ray of hope to a speechless people, he ignored the Mosaic code of “an eye for an eye” and set out on the path of truth and reconciliation.  He threw out an olive branch and threw the door of government house open and in the frenzy of the new freedom, all Abians, in one collective spirit, began to speak in one voice and enlisted into the new vision of Abia State. 

  Apart from servicing debts incurred by the fallen dynasty, he commenced a large-scale programme of making amends and correcting the excesses of the past administration. This saw to the birth of many social-welfarist programmes like the Ochendo Youth Empowerment Programme, which transformed Abia into a yellow state; the Hannah May Foundation, the pet humanitarian programme of the first lady; the student bursary Scheme and the student free city buses. Borne out of a bitter experience of a generational youth deviance which manifested in the regime of criminality by the Abia youths, with the vice of kidnapping almost grounding the state, the empowerment programme is an effort at social reconstruction and capacity building. The resultant effect is the prevailing social stability in the state. By driving on the plank of the three Rs, Governor Orji created a new template for political administration and left an invaluable asset and legacy to the study and practice of political power. 

Adindu is the President-general of the Abia Renaissance Movement (ARM)



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