OPINION: LIES AND SYCOPHANCY: A WORSENING AFFLICTION IN ABIA STATE – BY NNANNA IJOMAH

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Not too long ago, I came across a Press Statement by Mr. Enyinna Apollos, Chief Press Secretary to the Abia State Governor in which he revealed with great glee and fanfare that the Governor on his return from his U.S vacation had held a strategy and policy session with his Think Tank Committee made up of no less a person than one Mr. Onwuka, a former CEO of Diamond Bank. Rather than intimate us with the policy decisions that emanated from the said strategy session, Mr. Apollos proceeded to extol the virtues of Mr. Onwuka, who I am sure is an accomplished banker with a wealth of experience and expertise. Unfortunately, not content with his sycophantic praise and embellishments, he could not resist taking a not too subtle swipe at Dr. Alex Otti, who had succeeded Mr. Onwuka as CEO of Diamond bank by comparing their accomplishments at the bank. Again, as it has become a pattern with the Ikpeazu administration, Mr. Apollos brought up the issue of Dr. Alex Otti’s loss of the 2015 elections. An election every discernible mind knew Dr. Otti won.

Considering the emptiness and irrelevancy of this Press Release, one question that begs a response is this. What was the essence of this press statement by Mr. Apollos? With regards to his mention of Dr. Alex Otti, I will want to believe the man has taken permanent residence in their heads and as such causing them sleepless nights and migraines as the 2019 elections approach. If not, why can’t they go on with their lying ways without mention of Dr. Otti? I do not know Mr. Onwuka, personally or professionally, but judging from his antecedents, I believe he is a solid guy and not one of the intellectually challenged pygmies that parade the corridors of the Umuahia Government house. However, absent of Mr. Apollos mention of the names of other members that make up the Think Tank, I regret to say that to the extent that the many failed policies of the Ikpeazu administration are products of this Think Tank, I would advise that the Governor consider a reconstitution of the Thinktank membership. For people like me and my ilk who believe in facts and substance rather than cheap juvenile propaganda stunts such as this press statement, I would say I was more disappointed than offended, fully aware that we’ve seen this movie many times before.

For me, the reality is that when an administration starts publicizing its internal meetings and strategy sessions rather than policy outcomes and pronouncements, it is proof of an awareness on its part of a lack of vision and evidence of a governing ineptitude, hence it has to create a façade of seriousness as well as try to create a public impression that they are actually hard at work doing the people’s business. For Mr. Apollos to send out this empty, useless press statement is proof that the man has nothing better to do than to act out his role as a Government House butler trying very hard to cozy up to his boss by assaulting our tender sensibilities with his useless press statement completely devoid of any information worthy of the paper it was typed on.

In Abia State today, we have an administration that constantly lies and falsifies facts repeatedly and endlessly to the point where one begins to believe there is a method to their madness. Their constant false claims of achievements, with billboard signs emblazed with the words ‘Ikpeazu is Working” go beyond embellishments to outright fabrications, hence I have to give them credit for audacity. Take their recent claim of the complete reconstruction of the “A” line at the Ariaria market in Aba which has been revealed to be a bogus lie considering the fact that after a recent rainfall, the road was clogged with water large enough to embark on a canoe ride. Same goes for their claim of 50 reconstructed roads, lies about the cost of construction projects and personal foreign trips camouflaged as trips to attract investments. As we have come to discover, most times their lies, fabrications, and falsehoods are unredeemed by even a scintilla of insincerity. Their incontinent enthusiasm for lying is intolerable even for anyone with a refined sense of truth and falsehood.

Henry Adams, the late American historian of eminence once said and I quote, “practical politics consists of ignoring facts”. However what I don’t understand or appreciate is the practicality of members of this administration in their disregard for facts and the truth. In my opinion, theirs is either ignorance or a willful denial of them. Each time they lie their sole objective as I will assume is to create a narrative that suits their desired image. People like Mr. Apollos and his partners in the art of sycophancy seem to have a talent for toadyism and appetite for obsequiousness which is not only repulsive but also emblematic of the many lickspittle sycophants who continue to ratify lies and groveling as a way of retaining their jobs and positions. These men, in my opinion, are just more than liars and sycophants. Rather, like their many accomplices outside the administration, they are a floundering inarticulate jumble of gnawing insecurities and as in the words of George Hill, a prominent U.S conservative writer “with not all compensating vanities which is pathetic” and if I may add, obnoxious to the soul. They are akin to penguins lining up in Antarctica without knowing why they are doing so, but they do so anyway.

The reality is that when facts are hidden in the shadows. When those who tell the truth are vilified for daring to do so. When journalists become purveyors of lies and falsehoods. When media outfits become Government propaganda outlets. When ignorance and sycophancy becomes a way of life. When elders whom we expect to tell the truth as well as speak truth to power allow themselves to be reduced to slobbering serviles luxuriating in an oasis of retreat, political disengagement, and indifference, then we are a lost people with little hope of redemption. Talking about our so-called Abia leaders. The question that needs asking is, “do they even exist anymore? There used to be a time when such elders were referred to as ‘leaders of thought’. Today we have a new name for them, “stakeholders’. Which begs the question, whose stake are they holding on to? Are they stakeholders for the Government, the people or themselves and their financial benefits?. we now have traditional leaders who are better described as Government agents rather than guardians and spoke-persons for their people. We have union leaders who will sell out the membership of their unions for a pot of gold or in this case some thousands of Naira. We suffer the lies, propaganda, and deceptions of our journalists and still think everything is well with us. It is definitely not.

The late U.S president Harry Truman once said, “every society gets the government it deserves”. Which is exactly where we are today and for that matter the last 18 plus years, hence we have allowed ourselves to be constantly lied to, bamboozled, scammed, deceived, and our collective resource and inheritance stolen and appropriated by an administration and a Governor who can literally dip his hands into the state coffers and allegedly take 600 million Naira monthly for himself as security vote while thousands of civil servants and pensioners are owed their salaries and pensions, which begs the question, Where is the outrage and protests?. We are like sheep being led to the slaughter without any act of resistance. Again the question remains, “at what point are politicians, mirrors of the population than molders”?

The reality is that we keep electing people who are a reflection of ourselves and our values. Even then we have become willing participants to the crimes our elected representatives have committed against us. Worse than that, we are simply accomplices to their crimes. As proof, all anyone needs to do is to read some of the comments on Facebook and other media outlets describing this Governor as God sent or listen to the chorus of praise singers and professional sycophants in and outside the administration. Not to mention the tribal champions who see no evil and hear no evil and who believe a second term for a non performing Governor is their birthright just because he is one of them and because his predecessors served two terms, notwithstanding that their standard of living during the past 3 plus years as it is with a majority of Abia citizens is the worst in all of the South Eastern states. It is as if Abia state is the prodigal son of the entire Ibo race, hence we have a large section of our population who seem to exist in their own bubble and a parallel universe of alternative reality and denial and their distorted view of it. They forget that governance has to be in line and in consonance with ability, honesty, probity, and competence.

I will conclude this essay with a brief synopsis of a commencement speech made recently at Rice University here in the U.S by Michael Bloomberg, a former Mayor of New York City as they aptly epitomize the predicament we Abians find ourselves in today as a people to the extent that it helps shine a light of awareness on what we are up against and how to find the resolve to free ourselves from the PDP bondage. This is what Mayor Bloomberg said and I quote. “ Many of those at the highest level of power see the plain truth as a threat. They fear it, they deny and then they attack it just as the communists once did. So here we are in the midst of an epidemic of dishonesty and an endless barrage of lies. The trend towards elected officials propagating alternate realities or winking at those who do is one of the greatest dangers facing democracies. Free societies depend on citizens who recognize that the deceit in Government is not something to shrug your shoulders at. When elected officials speak as if they are above the law and when we tolerate dishonesty we get criminality. Sometimes it is in the form of corruption. Sometimes it is the abuse of power. Sometimes it is both. If left unchecked these abuses erode the institutions that protect our rights and freedom and opens the door to tyranny and fascism. Some might say, there have always been deceptive politicians. That’s true but there is now more tolerance for dishonesty in politics”. Enough said.

Nnanna Ijomah is a New York City resident.

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