Rt Hon Chinedum Orji

By Tony Icheku,Abuja

 Friday, Nov 19, 2021, saw Rt Hon Chinedum Orji, Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly   crowned Abia's 'Man of the Year, 2021' by the Abia Online Media Publishers.

While views may differ on the suitability of Rt Hon Orji in being so crowned, none can deny the fact that he is influential, prominent and a hero to many, and seen as a villain by political opponents - all   requirements for crowning any person Man of the Year.

It is equally beyond doubt that the Abia Online Media Publishers are influencers and opinion moulders and thus properly positioned to determine who the Man of the Year cap fits.

The Abia  Online Media Publishers  states that Rt Hon Orji is named its “Man of The Year 2021’ in  recognition of his role  in "...stabilizing the political climate in the state.

"The Speaker has become different things to different people, his fame never wanes, he has continued to wade through different political bends unruffled.

"Above all, is his ability to relate with leaders in Abia, past and present irrespective of party leaning, a virtue that has become so scarce in the polity today".

Rt Hon Orji may mean different things to different people, but the consensus - by political associates and opponents - is that he has emerged as one of Abia's iconic political tacticians.

 His place in Nigeria's yet to mature turbulent political environment is assured having emerged consistent as a stabilising factor in Abia's political clime - a feat that continues to confound naysayers.

Like the day is different from night, Rt Hon Orji sparkles as a model of exemplary leadership contrary to the negative, and fantabulous fables of an egotistic, ambitious adventurer that heralded his  emergence on Abia's political firmament in 2015.

Seven years going, his charismatic leadership has silenced the wagging tongues, even as his influence waxes stronger and his magnetic charisma draws more followers .

Easily accessible to the high and low; Always willing to lend a listening ear, Hon Orji proffers one of his recipes for navigating the political terrain thus: "I am always open to constructive criticisms and looked forward to advice and suggestions that could make me perform even better and deliver greater democracy dividends to the people"

And yet another: "I  shun jealousy, backbiting, malice, mischief and falsehood whether in personal relationships or in politics".

 Rt. Hon. Orji's political sojourn may seem like a chance encounter, but that is far from reality. He carefully articulated and planned his entry into politics. Nothing was left to chance or his link as son of a former governor. Take  his vision as  Speaker of Abia State House of Assembly for example:  “... the mantle has fallen on an Engineer and by training, Engineers are known for designing and building. Honourable colleagues, I will design and build for you all, a model House of legislative excellence and harmony that will set Abia State on an enviable pedestal.” 

He  lived up to his words. This is not a chronicle of the numerous laws passed by ASHA, however one cannot but mention the  'Abians in Diaspora Commission’ Law which earned the Abia House applause from the Presidency.

Taking notice that Abia is the first to pass the diaspora law, Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa (she also doubles as the Chairman/CEO of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM)), applauded the Speaker, Rt Hon. Orji for the passage of the 'Abians in Diaspora Commission’ Law. 

The law seeks to establish the Abians in Diaspora Commission, (ADCOM), in order to monitor the welfare of Abians in their country of domicile, assist them in investment and development opportunities in Abia State and Nigeria in general, and arrange for them to render voluntary services in Abia State in order to achieve overall development of the state.

On Executive/Legislature relationship, political observers still hold their breath and wait for Gov Ikpeazu and Rt Hon Orji to go on the warpath, and draw the State into political chaos.  Such would not be an unusual development: acrimony and bickering defines Executive/Legislature relationship in this climes, but so far, the synergy between the Executive and Legislative Arms of Government in Abia State has remained cordial and mutually respectful.

Abia governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu confirms, contrary to the gossip mills that he enjoys the best of relationship with the Speaker: “At both the official and personal levels, Rt Hon. Chinedum Orji and I enjoy a deliberately robust friendship, built on mutual trust, respect and confidence, which have greatly and positively impacted on the governance of our state"

Rt Hon Orji  fondly called “Ikuku”  short for  “Ikuku Oma Abia” (Fresh Air of Abia), rather than jostling for more power uses   his position and influence   to keep the Assembly peaceful, stable and  cooperative with the Executive.

Soft-spoken, down to earth contrary to his stern looking mien, Rt Hon Orji is often mentioned as a godfather of Abia politics - he is indeed godfather of the Youths -  This is not surprising considering his role in the second term bid of Gov Ikpeazu. It will be recalled not only did he  eloquently eulogize Gov Ikpeazu during a grand reception held for the governor by the Old Bende political bloc  on Friday, June 1, 2018; Beyond mere rhetorics, he boldly moved a motion for the adoption of the governor to run for a second tenure, a motion to which received resoundingly  “aye”.

At that August occasion, the homourous side of Abia's number three citizen played out as he boisterously banged an invisible gavel,  declaring: '..the “ayes” have it! causing the venue to erupt in volcanic jubilation.

Should we talk about Rt Hon Orji's legendary large heart? His pet programme,  Direct Touch Initiative like a magic wand continues to change lives in near and far places. Everywhere,  beyond his immediate constituency, he reaches out to touch lives by with his peculiar 'ikuku'

Analysing the implications of the Man of the Year 2021 crown on Rt Hon Orji, an ardent admirer, Dr Chukwuemeka Onyenucheya proffers that it is not an endorsement for a leader who has arrived, but an acknowledgement of a leader still in metamorphosis.

“Rt Hon Orji is indeed  transforming  to a charismatic and visionary leader” says Dr Onyenucheya 

“Let me say unequivocally, that Rt Hon have shown an exemplary charismatic and visionary leadership by successfully charting and navigating a cordial executive-legislative relationship in a hitherto turbulent political climate.

“Abians and Nigeria as a whole are still watching as the leadership qualities in you come into full bloom", Dr Onyenucheya affirms.

Conferring Man of The Year 2021 on Rt Hon Orji coming closely behind the The SUN' Public Service Award marks a turning point in his political career,  inferring that in his political voyage anything is possible.

Icheku is a journalist, public affairs analyst and member, Abia Online Media Publishers.