By Tony Icheku
Is anything new under the sun? The Bible asks. Nothing, it retorts. On that premise, the imposition of rudderless and inept leaders like Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State should surprise none. Tales abound of rulers whose notoriety for abuses of positions of power and wealth earned them a place in history books.
From his first term misadventure, Gov Ikpeazu would surely be captured in history books as one of Abia’s greatest infamies. This may shock, but undisputable nonetheless. Ikpeazu, once regarded highly owing to his towering academic qualifications now scrambles for lowly spaces with his predecessors in abuse of office and maladministration. In fact, Gov Ikpeazu has earned more strips in malfeasance, mendacity and mediocre leadership
To whom shall we liken Ikpeazu then? Is it to Caligula – also formally known as Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, 12-14 CE – Third Roman emperor, who was known for his feats of waste and carnage that exceeded even that of Nero, his infamous nephew.
Caligula, Roman historians wrote was cruel, depraved, and vicious. He opened a brothel in the palace, raped whomever he wished. Committed incest, and killed for greed. Do we see his imprint here on a governor whose favourite question to the females is ‘Mmelagi?’
Should we liken Ikpeazu to Nero, reputed to be the worst Roman emperor? Nero reportedly allowed his wife and mother to rule for him and then stepping out of their shadows had them and others murdered. Could it be true then that Ikpeazu is simply a puppet manipulated by another?
During Nero’s reign, Rome burned for nine days, and he was reported to be playing the lyre while the city burned. Do we see a likeness here to a governor who gathered journalists to a feast and orgy and screamed for: ‘more wine, more women’, while moulds of refuse dumps gradually creep over the State? And pensioners and workers starve to death with critical infrastructure decaying and collapsing?
Maybe Ikpeazu resurrected in another Roman Emperor, Commodus – Lucius Aelius Aurelius Commodus – 161–192 CE. History captured Commodus as lazy, and lived a life of idle debauchery. Commodus devalued the Roman currency, instituting the largest drop in value since Nero’s rule. Is that not like our governor always going a borrowing with no projects to show for receipted funds.
Though not a royalty, Ikpeazu’s widely reported love of feasting, wine and women likens him to the Babylonian ruler, Belshazzar, son of Nebuchadnezzar, another wicked and arrogant ruler who was humbled by God.
It was at one of his great feasts and drinking spree that Belshazzar was weighed in the balance, found wanting and his kingdom taken from him. ‘Teke Teke Mene Parshin’, a hand wrote on the palace walls during one of such orgies. Our focus here is to emphasis that just as sign was given to Belshazzar, numerous had been given to Ikpeazu. Would he repent and change his ways?
The latest sign came Monday, October 14, 2019 when pensioners marched in anger through Umuahia, the state capital demanding for their gratuity and pension arrears, which is said to be over 20 months outstanding.
One of the protesting pensioners, Ojemba said: “We are protesting for Ikpeazu to pay us over 20 months outstanding pension arrears. We want government to settle us, our children are out of school, and we can’t pay house rent, we can’t pay anything, we want all to be paid.
”It is 22 months now and this is besides what the past government is owing us. What the present government is owing us is 22 months. If we add five months owed by the previous governor, Dr. T.A Orji, it will be making up to 27 months unpaid pension. We are not even talking about gratuity that has been stopped for over 19 months. We are heading to the State House of Assembly,” Ojemba added.
Before then, on October 8, 2019, a group of women had protested in Abia’s commercial centre, Aba over collapsed road network and decaying infrastructure in the city. The women during the protest gave Gov Ikpeazu, a 100 days ultimatum to fix the roads or they will stage a 10,000 women protest and lockdown the Abia Government House.
Like a vicious bull, Ikpeazu fought back rather than sober up from his hangover and get to work. First, he recruited and paid another gang of women to march in his support through Aba’s decrepit streets. Then he sent in his gang of thugs led by a certain Chijioke Solomon, (aka Dollar), said to be from Ezi Nwangwa, Ogbor Hill after the harmless women. Leader of the women, Jane Ogbauta and two others were attacked and injured at their place of business
Ogbauta alleged that her attackers came with guns and damaged goods in her shop. She issued a statement after the attack stating as follows: ”I was in the company of Mrs Ifeyinwa Ananaba, the leader of our group in Ugwunagbo LGA, and Mrs Uloma Uzoma when the men attacked us.
“They assaulted us and left Mrs Uzoma with several injuries on her chest, while we were severally thrown on the floor. They also video recorded the incident.
Ogbauta stressed that her group was not working nor receiving sponsorship from any political party, but they were only concerned about good governance in the state.
“Our group is poised to demand for good governance, equity and inclusiveness from all level of government. We still stand on the declaration of our protest and demand that the State Government should fix the roads in Aba or face a 10,000 women protest, which will lockdown the Abia Government House after 100 days.
“Even through we have been receiving diverse threats through calls and text messages but we will not relent”, she affirmed.
Even before the women’s protest, it was a mad man recorded in a video who took the governor to the cleaners over his woeful performance in his office. The video went viral on the social media. In reaction, Ikpeazu who appear entranced with temporary adulation rather than a good name had doled out taxpayers money in damage control. He got the man, said to be psychologically unbalanced to recant. What a tragedy!
But here is the best part. The exit of Hon. Eziuche Ubani from Ikpeazu’s circus of shame… Ubani, former national newspaper editor, twice member, House of Representatives, and a highly cerebral political titan was one of the critical props that lent credibility to Ikpeazu. He served as commissioner of works during the first term and was considered part of Ikpeazu’s kitchen cabinet.
Why would Ubani now jump down from the gravy train? Is it because of the scores of uncompleted road projects littered all over the state? Projects, which had gulped more money in television advertisements than in actual work done? Does it offend his sensibilities that a road project of less than 5.5km gulped over N6 billion, and collapsed barely a year after commissioning?
Why have we submitted Ikpeazu to the scales of history? It is because he who sows to the whirlwind will reap the whirlwind. Abians are reminding Ikpeazu that a man who brings home maggot infested firewood would certainly have lizards as guests. Let him yet feast in Government House while Abian workers starve; while aged pensioners wither and pine away. Let Ikpeazu yet continue his macabre dance, but soon enough the music would cease. Soon. Very soon.