Ochendoism: A Political Philosophy

Ochendoism: A Political Philosophy

Monday, March 2, 2015 12:01 pm

By Gonwin Adindu

By the time Governor Theodore Orji of Abia State runs his full circle on the hot seat, he would not only have left a legacy of a stable state and a stable polity, he would be adding a new lexicon to the political books and a new theory to political philosophy. I call it, Ochendoism. Many years to come, students of the history of ideas and students of political philosophy would marvel at the fact that, quite contrary to the popular norm, Governor Orji did not set out to propound a theory. He did not consciously set out to add to the body of knowledge. Yet, he gave a new meaning to governance. Ochendoism, as a new form of government, is a historical accident.

Ochendoism derives its thematic and moral suasion from the Igbo cosmological connotations of the word, Ochendo, as a protector and a defender. The idea is encapsulated in the word. The Igbo of Eastern Nigeria speak word to action and hold the word as not only the conveyor of meaning but the carrier of character and destiny. The spoken word, to this race, is a sacred covenant which carries both spiritual and metaphysical underpinnings and which invariably influence the life and actions of the individual. Igbos are careful about names for they are verdicts of destiny. By the time he took the title of Ochendo, the governor entered into a covenant and ascribed a new destiny that were going to be manifest in his style of political administration. He has, ever since, remained the big umbrella accommodating all Abians, protecting life and defending the collective patrimony.

As a peculiar historical progression, Ochendoism is far more than an academic theory for an intellectual exercise and exploration. The theory is a new norm of governance and a new culture of political administration as demonstrated by Orji in his adventures in Abia. Simply defined, Ochendoism is the government of rebirth, restitution and rebuilding; the government of the three R (RRR). It is an ethical imperative that saw a leader healing a traumatized people and rebuilding a polarized and fractured polity. It is the vision of a new rebirth that drove a leader to create a new beginning and a new society out of the wreckages of the past.

These three ideals were translated in the governor’s dogged determination to rebuild trust and social cohesion amongst groups in the Abia polity by addressing the primordial sentiments and grievances arising from feelings of marginalization and political domination as it relates to the people of the old Aba Province, the Ukwa Ngwas. The governor’s insistence on power rotation in the state and his firm decision to hand over power to a candidate from Abia South were landmark decisions that reinforced the cardinal principles of the three Rs and also healed age-old inner resentments.

By raising the bar of equity and insisting that what is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander, Ochendo went down in history as a jinx breaker. Today, he has taken on the sublime status which the great inspirational writer, Stephen Covey, in his book, Everyday Greatness, describes as “the transition man” – a person “who breaks the flow of bad”.

Essentially, the theory expands the frontiers of governance to add the agenda of peace and equity as a cardinal mandate of the king. It distills from the time-honoured definitions of power and democracy to prescribe, for the leader, the moral mandate of causing an attitudinal change, creating a new culture and evolving a new state out of an orientation that leaned towards barbarism. In this new Abia, Orji demystified the office of the executive governor and the leader presented himself as an ordinary mortal with feelings, remorse and compassion – with flesh and blood. In this spirit, the governor opened himself to hear and feel the thought and concerns of every citizen. He received every message directly and replied every message directly.

Ochendoism is revolutionary in practice as it breaks all class structures and creates a synergy between idealism in power and pragmatism. Orji demonstrated that the king must be the leader of all men and must appreciate the varieties of our common humanity. He dispersed power and created a rainbow coalition that involved the broad spectrum of the Abia society. Every group had a voice and a good representation.

Indeed, history must note that Ochendoism as a political philosophy emerged out of pragmatic action. Governor Orji’s political birth was into a raging war. He inherited nothing but war. History placed on his laps a society that was visibly at war, a state that was highly polarized and where the parties were at daggers drawn. Thus, his first major preoccupation was with social reconstruction. He would only succeed if he breaks off from the festering chain of an overbearing predecessor , pull the state and the people out of a cultural captivity and create a new world order. He took the bull by the horns and stamped his feet on the soil of Abia State as a visionary leader.

Having ousted a regime of anarchy with all its bloody vestiges and brought a ray of hope to a speechless people, he ignored the Mosaic code of “an eye for an eye” and set out on the path of truth and reconciliation. He threw out an olive branch and threw the door of government house open and in the frenzy of the new freedom, all Abians, in one collective spirit, began to speak in one voice and enlisted into the new vision of Abia State. Thus, one major hallmark of Ochendoism is the building of bridges of understanding and the rebuilding of relationships. With a united house, he was now able to move on to the higher spiritual ground of restitution.

Apart from servicing debts incurred by the fallen dynasty, he commenced a large-scale programme of making amends and correcting the excesses of the past administration. This saw to the birth of many social-welfarist programmes like the Ochendo Youth Empowerment Programme, which transformed Abia into a yellow state; the Hannah May Foundation, the pet humanitarian programme of the first lady; the student bursary Scheme and the student free city buses. There are many more.

Borne out of a bitter experience of a generational youth deviance which manifested in the regime of criminality by the Abia youths, with the vice of kidnapping almost grounding the state, the empowerment programme is an effort at social reconstruction and capacity building. The resultant effect is the prevailing social stability in the state.

By driving on the plank of the three Rs, Governor Orji created a new template for political administration and left an invaluable asset and legacy to the study and practice of political power. As the clock gradually ticks and the curtain winds slowly, Orji will confidently step out to the market square to show himself approved a workman who does not need to be ashamed. Very soon, he would demand for his crown. He would say after Paul of Tarsus: “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.”

– Adindu is the President-general of the Abia Renaissance Movement (ARM)

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One Comment

  • emmanuel says:

    The Gov has done pretty well in the area of security, Energy distribution, primary and tertiary healthcare, development of human capital through various youth empowerment Programmes, infrastructural development…New essential structures like the workers secretariat, International Conference centre, remodeling of Abia hotels to boost the hospitality and tourism industry, the new high court buildings Umuahia and Aba…the more decent court houses the more judges the more jobs, the new Abia State library headquarters to boost learning and research, the Abia State Specialist and Diagnostic Hospital commended as the best in the entire south east and south south region, the new eye and dialysis centre in Umuahia, the new industrial market Umuahia and Umuahia Modern market to boost commerce and industry also to decongest the Umuahia city centre, the new motor Spare Parts and Mechanic Village at Ohiya Umuahia to create sanity and enhance environmental decency in Umuahia city centre, the new govt house Govt house currently situated in a private and rented property. A functioning skill acquisition centre training about 5000 youths currently. A new broadcasting House (BCA) building, a new JAAC, ASUBEB and Chieftancy affairs complex in Umuahia, A newly built ministry of Justice building in Umuahia, about 250 primary health care centres across the state, partnering with World bank to build Community Social Development program projects as demanded by communities in Abia State, A new House of Assembly Administrative and constituency complex within the HOA premises. A new ASEPA building, ASEPA is currently occupying a rented building, built &commissioned the Amaokwe housing Estate in Umuahia, Isieke, Amaudo and Aso small and medium income housing estates are currently ongoing in Umuahia, massive investment in the environmental sector…Opening up drains in Aba & Umuahia, provision of refuse dump equipment & Trucks etc. The govt has built numerous rural and urban roads in Isukwuato, Ohafia, Bende Umunneochi, Umuahia, Ikwu ano, Isi ala Ngwa etc including the 17 major Aba city roads recently embarked upon…Brass, Milverton, Ngwa Road, Faulks Road, Geometric, Ama Ogbonna, etc. All these are verifiable in addition to massive investment on security of lives and property. ABSG invested over 1.5 billion to evacuate power (electricity) from the Ohiya sub power station after the federal govt built but abandoned it. Power supply has improved in Umuahia and environs leading to massive boost in the small and medium scale enterprises sector. Umuahia, the capital city doesn’t get dark at night as a result of the massive investment on street light project. Remember security globally requires huge investment and for Abia State to be known currently as a safe zone, massive investment is being invested to sustain the achievement made so far on security. All these and many more doesn’t stop Abia State from having her challenges as a State but the good news is that those developmental challenges are being tackled with the funds available to the State without borrowing.

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