Ikpeazu and burden of legitimacy
USURPERS are known for putting up populist actions to parry public attention from the ugly route through which they get to their undeserved positions.
This is why it is not uncommon to see armed robbers spraying money on their way after a successful operation. The idea is to distract the people to secure easy escape and to make atonement for their ignoble action. This was also the trend in the military era.
Then, after toppling an elected government, the succeeding regime would put up actions that would market it before the ordinary folks as a messianic administration. Beneath the veneer of messianic posture, however, was a careful agenda to sweep under the carpet, the huge credibility deficit trailing the coupists’ invidious route to power.
Instances of such duplicitous engagements, have not been lacking even in the current democratic dispensation. In 2003 general elections, it was obvious that the Anambra State governorship election was won by Peter Obi, who ran on the ticket of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
But on account of the huge malfeasance that characterised the election, Obi’s mandate was passed on to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Dr. Chris Ngige. Realising that he was riding on the wings of a stolen mandate, Ngige embarked on certain populist initiatives with the intention of covering the odious path through which he took over Awka Government House.
While he embarked on the exercise, it was not lost on him and perceptive minds that he had a serious burden of credibility. At the end of the day, Obi, the rightful winner was handed back his mandate through the courts. That was when enduring governance began to take roots in Anambra. Abia State is in a similar situation today.
At the April governorship election in the state, it was certain that Dr. Alex Otti of APGA, was clearly the people’s choice. He was in fact, coasting home to victory when the then Theodore Orji-led PDP government in the state, in collaboration with unscrupulous Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials, compromised the exercise and pronounced Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, the PDP candidate the winner.
Abia has not known real peace ever since. Of course in rooting for Otti, the Abia electorate, had their reasons. They saw in the former accomplished banker, a man with a burning desire to reinvent their state.
Having been literally raped by the Orji administration in its eight years of inaction, Ndi-Abia, needed a genuine change. Ikpeazu, certainly, was not that change they sought for. Of course, he couldn’t have been. He was for one, a prominent member of the non-performing government.
As a senior official in Abia State Environmental Sanitation Agency, the performance profile of the agency, was rated extremely poor. With major roads and streets in the city virtually taken over by refuse, his aspiration for the governorship was seen by the people as adding insult to the injury of neglect of the city.
The processes leading to his emergence as PDP candidate, was also not exciting even to his party men. In fact, for the politically active average Aba resident, Ikpeazu before and during the election was seen as nothing but a stooge being foisted on the state by the Orji administration to cover its tracks.
It was against this backdrop that the Abia electorate easily swam round Otti the moment he volunteered for the race. Incidentally, he knew the task ahead and was prepared for it.
He had for instance, drawn a comprehensive template on how to reposition the state on the path of development. His manifesto included giving Aba, the state’s commercial nerve centre, which had been criminally neglected by the Orji administration, a pride of place.
In that regard, he had unfolded plans for the creation of Ministry of Aba Affairs and to give the City a deserving face-lift. The agenda also entailed reinventing the education, health, sports and human resource sectors, among others.
These were the genuine intentions that Otti had presented to Ndi-Abia and had practically secured their endorsement when the agents of darkness threw spanners in the works. The Otti nostalgia, incidentally burns in the mind of the residents and indigenes of the state.
It is in apparent move to defuse the undying love for the APGA candidate that Ikpeazu has been embarking on some hasty and obviously knee-jerk initiatives to appear to be on the side of the people. Part of his early antics was to drop the title “His Excellency” in preference to “Doc” (whatever that means).
To the ordinary mind, the choice may seem to indicate a severance from the elite class. But it goes deeper than the surface interpretation. In it, Ikpeazu is rather making a veiled admission of governing on a stolen mandate. “Excellency”, presupposes transparency. His emergence was not transparent.
It has credibility question marks. And he knows it. More than that, the quick deployment of bulldozers to Aba, is simply cosmetic and ephemeral, given that the action is not original and well thought-out. It is rather an attempt to pirate the Otti template without success.
Somehow, in his hurry, he forgot a few hard facts. One, that to flag off 7 road projects the next working day after swearing in smarks off deceit.
Abians who are not deceived continue to posed the following questions: When were the roads designed? When was tender for the jobs done? When did negotiation happen? When was approval given and by whom? Does Abia not observe due process as done elsewhere? Where did he get funds to make advance payments (assuming advance payment bonds were secured by the unknown contractors over the weekend).
If truly, so much funds were left behind by T. A. Orji, why would Ikpeazu not start by paying down some of the 9 months workers salary arrears which he is asking for bailout from the Federal Government? Ikpeazu must be told in clear terms that we are not fools. We know the difference between reality and 419. We know when someone wants to take us for a ride without a car or even the familiar Keke.
We know that no serious person flags off road construction in the middle of rains in June. The hasty pronouncements and emerging publicity blitz on the engagements by his sycophantic image handlers, bear the traits of desperation intended to befuddle the people. This is why supporters of the APGA candidate should not lose hope.
With the issues in the election before the Tribunal, it is hoped that light will eventually triumph over darkness. Peter Obi eventually retrieved his mandate. Otti will do so in Abia.
This hope is anchored on the belief that the judiciary truly remains the last hope of the common man. • Ezeocha, a public affairs commentator, wrote from Umuahia, Abia State.