Healing the wounds of the elections!

Healing the wounds of the elections!

The 2015 general elections have been won and lost, have come and have gone, but the wounds inflicted on unity of Aro is still fresh and open in our minds and actions. The bone of contention was the interest of four prominent Aro sons who contested the elections for various positions. While many pitched their tent with Dr. Alex Otti for the Governorship of Abia State on the platform of APGA, others stood firm with Sir Chikwe Udensi for the same position on the platform of PPA. The rest either joined the camp of Chief Mao Ohuabunwa for the Senate on PDP platform or stood behind Chijioke Okoro for Abia State House of Assembly also on the ticket of PDP. Only but a few sat on the fence.

Inside information in all the camps confirmed to Amaikpe that there was everything towards each other but unity of purpose, spirit of sportsmanship, friendship, collaboration, partnership, team work and shared vision. Instead, informed sources lamented that what was unfortunately common was individualism, narrow interest, hatred, sabotage, mutual suspicion especially among supporters and admirers of the candidates. It was also a period where rumour mongers, sycophants, rent seekers and praise singers moved from one camp to the other to sow seeds of disunity to justify the selfish search for relevance and perhaps what is now known as “stomach infrastructure”.

In Nigerian politics, gossip, rumour, misinformation, envy, greed, treachery, conspiracy, and betrayal are major tools of trade. We all saw these vices in reasonable measure used freely by the various political camps to advance their chances of winning during the elections. Every effort made by notable elites and elders of the community to bring the candidates and their supporters to see the need to work together recorded very little or no result. The implication was that Aro became a “house divided against itself”, jack of all trade and nearly master of none. The price we have paid for our bad politics was quite heavy. We lost the Abia governorship (at least for now); threw away a clear chance to produce the member for the State House of Assembly which was zoned to Aro. Except for the Senate, we lost all the other positions. Even in elementary mathematics, one -over- four cannot be a pass mark. As the saying goes “divided we fall”.

While our optimism and hopes still hang in the balance in the various cases pending in the election petitions tribunals (especially the one on the governorship) what is more worrisome is the deep wound, the election has inflicted at the very heart of our unity. Many families were divided, friendships shattered, groups, associations and individuals polarized. It equally pitched individuals against each other. Many Aro associations have been divided along political lines based on what they did or failed to do during the elections. For the candidates at the center of the political contest, Dr. Alex Otti, Sir Chikwe Udensi, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa and Mazi Chijioke Okro, it is unclear what kind of relationship currently exists within and among them even now that the elections are over. And these are Aro sons whose personality and influence cannot be easily ignored. This apparent breakdown in communication and frosty relationship may also be true of their supporters.

However, now that the elections are over, the time to heal the wounds inflicted on Aro unity by the politics of the period is now. The healing must begin with the candidates leading the peace and reconciliation process and mobilizing their followers to fall in line. This can come through deliberate passion to forgive one another in the overall community interest. Exchange of confidence -building visits, restoration of communications and public pronouncements that convey clear messages that inspire peace, love and Aro communal spirit of brotherhood will also help. Many visitors to Aro have attested that the freedom of association, trust and friendship among Umu Aro is rare to find in many communities. We can only build on this wonderful culture and nothing less.

As politicians would always say, they are no permanent enemies in politics but permanent interest. The time to move on and put the past behind us is now. The examples already set at the national level by President Buhari and his predecessor, Dr.Goodluck Jonathan is a positive case study worthy of emulation. Any other approach will amount to “crying more than the bereaved”. On the part of the followers, the time to realize that when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers has indeed come. Prominent Aro sons and daughters, individuals, associations and groups also have roles to play. Our community known for love, peace and strong bond of friendship that knows no boundary cannot afford division and hatred based on political differences. Aro mmammanu! Aro mmanma nu!

About author

Orji Ogbonnaya Orji

Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, a well-known Nigerian broadcaster, journalist, political economist and development communication specialist sits on the Editorial Board of Aro News, a leading community news channel of the Aros, south east Nigeria. Orji writes its popular column “Amaikpe”.  
He is currently the Director of Communications and Advocacy at the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), the Presidency, Abuja. NEITI is the Nigerian chapter of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international organization with 53 member countries which leads the global campaign for transparency and accountability in the management of extractive resources in resource-rich countries around the world. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji was named NEITI's acting Executive Secretary/ceo in 2015, a position he held briefly until 2016.  
Dr. Orji represents NEITI on Nigeria’s National Steering Committee of the global Open Government Partnership (OGP) and chairs the extractive sector thematic group in the country’s OGP.  
Prior to his current job at NEITI, Dr. Orji was a special adviser to Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Communication on Strategic Development Communication. Between 2004 and 2006, he worked with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) as a national consultant on public procurement reforms. At the UNDP, he worked with other development partners such as the World Bank and USAID on institutionalizing public procurement processes in Nigeria, by articulating a bill on public procurement for consideration and passage into law by the National Assembly. Following the passage of the Bill into law and establishment of the Bureau of Public Procurement on the June 4, 2007, Orji headed the media and public affairs department of the Bureau.
He served as Special Adviser to the President of the Senate at the National Assembly from 2000 to 2003. During this period, he provided technical support to develop the institutional framework on strategic media/civil society relations and engagements with the country’s legislature emerging from years of military rule.
His career in the media industry began at Radio Nigeria where he was groomed and worked in various capacities, rising through the ranks to the position of Deputy Director at the headquarters. The highest point of his career at Radio Nigeria was his posting to the Presidential Villa, Aso Rock (Nigeria’s seat of power) as the Chief State-House Correspondent, attached to Nigeria’s presidents. Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji served with courage and distinction during five different regimes, part of which were under the military from 1993 to 2000, when Nigeria returned to civil rule. The job at the Presidential villa took Orji on regular entourages of Nigerian Presidents to many countries of the world for the media-coverage of key global events, including several sessions of the United Nations' General Assembly in New York.
Orji Ogbonnaya Orji began his early life and education in 1970 at the Presbyterian School, Amanator Isu, Ohaozara in the then Afikpo Division. He attended Ishiagu High School Okigwe for his secondary education from 1975 and obtained his West African School Certificate from the school in 1980. He later proceeded to the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) Enugu where he graduated with a certificate in Mass communication in 1987. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Abuja, Nigeria in 1999, a master’s degree in political economy and development studies in 2004 and a PhD in the same discipline and from the same University in 2012.
He attended the Senior Executive Fellows program on public policy and communication at J.F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He is also an alumnus of Blatvanik School of Government, University of Oxford, England, Thompson Foundation Institute of Advanced Media Studies Cardiff, United Kingdom, the International Law Institute, George Town University Washington DC, the Institute for Public and Private Partnership, Arlington Virginia, the World Bank Institute, the African Development Bank Institute, and the Lagos Business School. Furthermore, he is a recipient of professional fellowships from the US State Department and from the governments of Germany and the United Kingdom.
Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji is married to Dr. (Mrs.) Esther Ogbonnaya with three children: Nnenna, Orji (Jr), and Chinatu.

1 comment

  1. Dr Orji Ogbonnaya Orji 28 July, 2015 at 23:56 Reply

    Greetings to you all from Orlando Florida, United States. I am here on vacation with my family. I have just finished exploring Aro News on line and was well fed with the stories including my last column – Amaikpe. let me congratulate all members of our editorial team especially the founder, Dr Azubuike Okoro for the creative addition of this website. It is beautiful, lovely and quite unique. It is a great job indeed that requires all efforts to enrich the contents. May God bless this effort.
    Sincerely Yours,
    Dr Orji Ogbonnaya Orji

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