By Dodoh Okafor
Marketing a bad product is very difficult; I do not envy Okezie Ikpeazu’s media and public relation agents. If you are a member of the opposition in Abia State and the PDP government approaches you to come work for them, insist that they assign you to an office where you would have minimal interaction with the Abia public. You can also ask to be given contract and insist that they pay you 99% upfront. You make your money and quietly go away without attracting any opprobrium to yourself.
If however you make the mistake of accepting a position that puts you in the full glare of Abia public, you are likely going to be a victim of transferred aggression, an enemy of the public and a man never to be trusted. I feel sorry for Messrs John Okiyi Kalu, Enyinnaya Appolos, Onyebuchi Ememanka and the governor’s coterie of commissioned and uncommissioned media aides each time I come across their posts on social media.
These men are always under constant attacks by members of the Abia public for understandable reasons. They are seen as liars and agents of a very wicked and deceitful government. Last week on Twitter, I noticed that some social media influencers were twitting about Abia and the “wonders” of the Okezie Ikpeazu administration. It was not long before I started receiving enquiries from my own followers who wanted to know if what people like Deji Adeyanju and Demola were saying were true pictures of what obtains in the state.
I wasted no time in reaching out to friends to share live pictures of certain locations in Umuahia and Aba. In less than 30 minutes, I got a deluge. I wasted no time in sharing these pictures on Twitter, one after the other- some came with date-stamps so there was no controversies as to when they were snapped. I devoted my time to locating the account of everyone tweeting #LiveinAbia and I quietly added the pictures either as a reply or as a retweet. It was not long before some of them began to block me. But I was not deterred, I have considerable followership (@Eaglepostng- please follow) and reached out to my personal friends to help in countering the lies the Okezie Ikpeazu government was promoting. Before long, my own pictures began to circulate alongside the ones Ikpeazu paid to be trend. Less than an hour later, I heard people calling on the Twitter overlords to “drop the Abia matter.”
The #LiveinAbia tweet was to die off a few hours later. Now if you consider that the state government spent considerable amount of money inviting these guys (mainly non-Abians) to the state, you cannot but weep for our great state. It is saddening that the Okezie Ikpeazu administration that has refused to pay workers and pensioners for years would earmark a huge chunk of the state’s resources to invite a social media influencers to Abia state, put them in cozy hotels and of course give them “thanks for coming” envelopes. It is even more disturbing when you realize the best projects the state government can showcase are 1-2KMs of street roads in isolated parts of Umuahia and Aba. I am not aware of any transformational health, agro or youth development initiative the government has faithfully implemented in almost four years.
So I have nothing but sympathy of John Okiyi Kalu and co. Yes I do. I know that in their heart of hearts, they know that their principal Mr. Ikpeazu is a great tragedy for this state, they know that the state is headed nowhere with him but then, what can they do? It is not easy to say no to the opportunities and perks of being close to the most powerful office in the state. I make plenty of internet researches and whenever these men talk about the state, what follows in the online comments sections are attacks and abuses by the readers.
I also monitor radio and TV call-in programs from Abia state. I observe how the moderators struggle to control the scores of listeners wishing to unburden themselves on radio during each program. I understand how much Mr. Okiyi Kalu and his boys struggle to lie to themselves each day. Of course they know that each time they open their mouths to speak, they will provoke an overflow of negative reactions from their audience. How can anyone keep quiet and listen to the official of a government that has refused to pay them their salaries and entitlements? How about children who have been forced to abandon school because their civil servant parents can no longer meet up with tuition?
My uncle is what you can call a very “big man.” He has estates and properties all over Aba. He came into the city in the early 70s and made great fortune for himself. Today however, he has seen the value of every singular property he owns around Ogbo Hill depreciate so much in value that he would rather give them out for nothing than sell them for the prices being offered. Many residents within Ogbor Hill and Ngwa Road axis believe that these are the worst times to live in Aba- in terms of infrastructure. They have not seen the city’s infrastructure decay this much in their entire lives.
The frustration and pains certainly provoked the harsh and disrespectful treatment meted out to the governor at a church program in Aba recently. The embarrassment the governor suffered at Abia Poly is just a measure of what is to come. The people have had enough and no amount of satanic ritual practices and divination can confuse the people this time. Umuahia use to be a very decent and clean city. I was an avid newspaper reader at Ishi Gate several years ago, today the entire place is a shadow of its old self.
Life in the village use to have meaning then- especially after civil servants- (those at the LGA) have been paid. Money was circulating quite easily, those how had energy could go work for those raising new buildings and in one or two places, you could find government construction projects going on. So with families starving, investors fleeing, property developers looking away, opportunities to raise money non-existent, infrastructure rotting away and cities smelling like dungeons, what exactly would Mr. Okiyi and company be telling Abians?
For years they lied to the people that things would get better when the government unveils its programs, when the tribunal and court cases end and all of those silly excuses. The court cases ended eons ago, the government has been in place for 3 and half years and yet- things keep getting worse. What else can Mr. Okiyi and his men (including those hired to attack the governor’s critics on social media) be telling their audience? Okezie as a governor is a tragedy. As a political product, he is a disaster. As a leader, he is a failure, as an influencer he is a bad one. As a father? An immoral example.
It is a shame this is the man intelligent men are women are putting their own reputation on the line, trying to sell to ndi Abia and members of the Nigerian public. Sadly, they have an impossible task. And I suspect they are aware. Thanks for reading and God bless. Please do not forget to lend a helping hand to a former teacher, a former neighbour or a child in need. Nothing is too small.