“If you are incapable of gratitude, you are incapable of noble sentiments. Even animals are grateful,” – By Sir George Bernard
Shaw. In that famous romantic Comedy, Arms and the Man, Sir George Bernard Shaw, the English dramatist and playwright observed that ‘If any man (by extension a community, society, country or even group) is incapable of gratitude, the man must also be incapable of noble sentiments.” Sir Bernard Shaw added: “Even animals are grateful”Since the Sunday, March 9, 2019 re-election of Governor Ikpeazu, it has been celebration galore in the entire UkwaNgwa land. The people are celebrating what they see as a long walk to freedom.
They are celebrating a triumph of their capacity. They are celebrating a victory from old stereotypes and stigma. They are celebrating a victory that will give them a new dignity and a new status in the political equation of Abia State. They are celebrating a re-discovery of themselves – their strength and their power. They are celebrating their final emancipation.
Indeed, in this season of celebration, it is easy to forget. The UkwaNgwa must continue to celebrate Ochendo, Papa Ukwu, the man who agreed that what is good for the geese is also good for the gander. The UkwaNgwa have a covenant with Ochendo which must remain unfettered. Paraphrasing Shakespeare, we must honour the “base degrees upon which we did ascend’ Why must the UkwaNgwa celebrate Ochendo? We must do so because of our peculiar history and our existential reality.
Remember that right from the First Republic when the Aba Division in the Old Eastern Region was shortchanged and their position given to an Efik woman, Margaret Ekpo, who represented them in the old Eastern Region House of Assembly, successive regimes have always short-changed the UkwaNgwa and reneged on whatever promise or agreement entered into with the people.
Thus, the struggle for the emancipation of the UkwaNgwa became a long-drawn battle that spanned over six decades, climaxing with the OTUONU Mass Movement led by Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe. The movement raised the momentum of the UkwaNgwa agenda and brought many issues about the people to the front burner of national discourse. From the Old Imo State, it appeared as if the UkwaNgwa was consigned to the position of Deputy Governor, only good to play the second fiddle.
From Isaac Uzoigwe, Enyinnaya Abaribe, Chima Nwafor, Acho Nwankanma to Col. Ananaba, the tradition endured. At different times and on different scenarios, many UkwaNgwa men of repute led heated struggles to break the jinx but to no avail. The iron hand of oligarchy continued to strangulate them.But, significantly, the reality of the fate that confronted the UkwaNgwa came in 2001, at the hallowed ground of Okpuala Ngwa, the ancestral cradle of the people, when the former Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, looked at them eye-ball to eye-ball and announced that his daughter (who was three years then) will grow up to govern them if they did not give him support for his second term bid.
The UkwaNgwa took it as the height of insult against the collective sensibilities of a people. Based on the rotational principle in the Abia Charter of Equity, power was to rotate between the Old Bende and the Old Aba Zone. Kalu, from inception, promised to adhere to this ordinance. But, out of his deep-seated hatred for the UkwaNgwa, he reneged at last and handed over power to his fellow old Bende man from Abia Central in 2007.
In the twilight of his administration in 2015, Ochendo came under intense pressure by his people of old Bende to shortchange the UkwaNgwa again. Thus, the UkwaNgwa must at all times recognize that, except for the firm and unwavering decision of Ochendo who, against all pressure and odds, stood his ground on power rotation and kept his word as his bond on handing over to an UkwaNgwa, the people could not have attained the current milestone.
Thus, the UkwaNgwa must continue to show gratitude to Ochendo for setting this standard of equity. They must continue to celebrate him for being the only leader who demonstrated that balance of power is critical and crucial for our common existence as one common humanity. Thus, as we celebrate our final political triumph as a people, we must not forget where we are coming from and the man who mounted the ladder on which we ascended through the base degrees to the topmost height.
Adindu is the President-general of the Abia Renaissance Movement (ARM)