By Jude Nwauzor
Rarely do I pick up pen against the leadership of my beloved state, Imo because I thoroughly understand the biblical injunction, which mandates people to respect their leaders. But when a leader in manners that utterly paint a picture of him as clueless, ungodly, irresponsible, incompetent, power drunk and so on, then one really does not have any choice than to devote little attention to such stroppy character.
When I finally made up my mind to spill some ink after so much struggle with my inner-self, not because of Okorocha’s penchant to “intimidate those that write unfavourable articles against him,” but because I also had serious challenge deciding a proper headline that is apt to complement my outburst. But when one remembers the long list of pain and misery Okorocha’s administration has brought upon Imo State and indeed Ndigbo in general, the title I settled for was irresistible.
I was further convinced to write because I remain a stakeholder in Imo – it is my state even though I have adopted Lagos State. Unapologetically, I like the progressive nature in the leadership of Lagos State. From the administration of Alhaji Lateef Jakande to the incumbent Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, Lagos State has constantly improved in every sense of the word, which is quite unlike Imo State that is both fast and furious in declining in every sense of the word as well. Following this line of thought therefore I have a moral mandate to voice out and also recommend the likes of Okorocha to visit Lagos for leadership internship.
It is disheartening that with Okorocha as governor in the state in the last seven years, mediocrity has become the order of the day as he brazenly promotes nepotism with all sorts of appointments and contracts going to companies that are affiliated to him, members of his immediate family, in-laws, friends and cronies. In broad day light, Imo State under him has become an embodiment of high-profile fraud, den of insecurity, deceit, cluelessness, nepotism, narrow-mindedness…name it. With every of his action, the governor who claims to be the shining light of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the South-East has continued to remind the people of Imo State and indeed the South-East why they need to flee from the APC when Okorocha finishes his mass-carnage in the state come 2019.
Any sane person should be disturbed at the level of idiocy especially those that travelled all the way back to Imo State then (myself inclusive) to mobilise our folks to rise in support of Okorocha against the then incumbent, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, who also did not know his left from his right as governor. The good people of Imo thought they had found the Messiah the state needs so badly because since the administration of the late Chief Sam Onunaka Mbakwe (God bless his soul), the state has been very, very unfortunate with leadership. Sadly, it has been the curious case of one plunderer after another taking their turn, which the state has to avoid in 2019. That is the story for another day.
Shortly after he was sworn in, Okorocha without wasting time revealed himself as one who has come to practice “government of the self, for the self and by the self.” As if that was not enough, his administration threw up other aspects of leadership ideologies and sharp practices that have not been experienced in Imo until now. For example, Okorocha brought to Imo the concept of “Chinese Roads.” For scholars who are not abreast with this new but odd concept, it is simply an Okorocha ideology of building a road by Monday that would go bad by Wednesday so that the contract could be re-awarded by Friday. It is the politics of circle of doom, to say the least. That is the mischief Okorocha is dishing out to Imo, which has made the once promising state and cleanest state in Nigeria a failed state, to say the least.
Indeed and in action, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, Okorocha’s predecessor literally ran mad with power, which has left him depreciated and diminished politically, but Okorocha’s recklessness is far beyond human comprehension. This same character who owes pensioners over 22 months of unpaid pensions and slashed teachers’ salaries even though he does not pay them regularly, voted huge sums of money with which massive billboards were erected all over the state showcasing his handshake with former President of the United States of America, Mr. Barrack Obma. Ideally, a responsible ‘leader’ should have learnt his lessons following public condemnation and outcry that trailed that illogical decision – but that is not Okorocha.
Rather than navigate himself away from frivolities, he …invited and lavishly celebrated Mr. Jacob Zuma, the President of South Africa who is also facing a litany of corruption allegations in his country. Okorocha who finds it very difficult to pay hardworking teachers in the state; who cannot provide infrastructure to the state; actually approved and spent a staggering N520million belonging to Imo State to erect a statue of irrelevant Jacob Zuma. This is exclusive of the money he spent organizing parties and dinner amongst others for Zuma who does not add value to the state. He even named a road after Zuma who is ‘superintending’ over the killing of Nigerians in South Africa. Okorocha failed to realise that eight out of every ten Nigerians that are killed in South Africa are his kinsmen.
It is not news that things have totally fallen apart in Okorocha’s Imo. The only functional wheel in the state is Okorocha’s private dynasty that has used state powers to corner everything and anything that matters and has thrown the state into huge debt that would haunt the development of Imo for years. Okorocha cannot even leverage his alleged closeness to President Muhammadu Buhari to attract federal presence to Imo State. The vain governor tells anybody that cares to listen how close he is to Baba (Buhari) and Abuja politics yet, he sat there in the federal executive meeting at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja when the government distributed the first phase of the rail lines with none passing through any of the South-Eastern states. Imo State is not considered by the present administration as an investment destination and the joker called Okorocha is not bothered.
I am sure even President Buhari is ashamed of the likes of Okorocha who do not show a good representation. I mean, why should anybody applaud Okorocha for unveiling Zuma’s statue in a state Chief Sam Mbakwe worked so hard to build and yet has not been considered for such honour by Okorocha? Why should any sane mind watch Okorocha waste state resources on an elaborate 55th birthday where he coerced the 27 local government areas of Imo State that he has impoverished to present 27 cakes “in appreciation of his good works in their land?”
As a matter of fact, no right-thinking person would take Okorocha seriously because after receiving the bailout from the federal government to pay workers’ salaries, and pensioners’ entitlements in Imo State, Okorocha and his hit men, it was reported, diverted the funds. At least if not for the hard-working Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), we would not have known that. Recall that three top officials of Imo State government under the watchful eyes of the egocentric governor were arrested for allegedly diverting the sum of N2 billion bailout fund given to the state by the federal government for the payment of workers’ entitlements. The suspects include Dr. Obi Paschal Chigozie, principal secretary to the governor; Uzoho Casmir, director of finance and Iheoma Kenneth, treasurer.
Who knows how much more of the commonwealth for Imo people that are in Okorocha’s hidden accounts around the world, yet he claims to be part of the APC government that is fighting corruption. What this calls for is for whoever succeeds Okorocha as governor owe Imo State and Ndigbo in general just one thing – probe of Okorocha’s administration for all the malpractices and have him and his cronies return to Imo all they have looted with impunity. Yes…he must be probed because he is heartless. Probe him because his administration shortchanged pensioners; because Imo has no infrastructure.
But as Okorocha continues on his chosen path to perdition, we can only pray and hope that the same God who answered our prayers with his election then, would again answer…now that we are praying fervently that Okorocha and his entire generation would reap the full benefits of the evil seeds they have planted in Imo State
And like his predecessor who is languishing in the dustbin of political history of Imo State, it is our collective prayer that nature would not allow Okorocha smell governance again.
Jude Nwauzor, a public commentator, lives in Lagos State