It was Mandela who was credited with the famous quote that “nothing can stop an idea whose time has come”. Madiba’s statement finds credence in the current wind of change sweeping through the Nigeria resulting from a tortuous and bloody 16 year battle.
When the story of the battle is told, history will remember the sacrifices of Owelle Anayo Rochas Okorocha in berthing the ship of change in Nigeria. Rochas’ account with history is bursting to the seams with valuable deposits made to humanity and the art of governance.
I will not bore the readers of this piece with the litany of philanthropic activities which Rochas was (is) synonymous with as that is already well documented but wish to point out that his background as a philanthropist no doubt, influenced his rescue mission or rather, governance with a human face which has placed Imo State on a very high pedestal.
Rochas victory at the polls brought tears, albeit of joy to Ndi Imo who had been in anguish and pain of a deranged and inept leadership. It took a man who treads where angels dread to turn around their story.
Free education for Ndi Imo was before the coming of Rochas a pipe dream but “a dreamer” has proved cynics and critics wrong by making free education a reality. Even till today, people still ask, how did he do it?
The rescuer has set the ball rolling on his campaign promises of “Factories, Industries and Jobs”, across the 27 Local Governments areas of the state despite dwindling revenues that have hit the country and the subsequent recession that has hit hard on government finances at all levels.
Despite resonant tunes of critics and cynics, the turn-around in the Imo State health sector is coming on strongly. The general hospital projects have not been abandoned and are nearly completed.
On the fate of the workers in the concessioned parastatals, the governor in his characteristic magnanimity has offered them the options of either been paid – off or posted out of the parastatals since the establishments require fresh bloods and ideas.
The people’s governor’s greatest achievement which will reverberate even after he exits the seat of governance is his policies in the education sector. Besides the free education project, the model schools that litter the whole of Imo state proves that indeed Rochas is a man that thinks of the next generation. Only education can empower a people in the long term and not the “rice and beans sharing” style of governance previous administrations battered the psyche of Ndi Imo with. Besides there are plans to build more models school in the State as the thrust of Owelle’s education policy is the principle of “leave no child behind”.
Rochas joined the battle to rescue Nigeria from 16 years of PDP profligacy and brigandage. That decision marked him out for destruction by the former permissive ruling party PDP but as the Igbos say “Onye kwere, chi ya ekwere!”
Not once but twice, Ndi Imo said yes to the completion of the rescue mission with their votes and banished PDP enslavement in Imo forever.
As one Imo resident I interviewed after the governorship elections told me in his Owerre dialect, “Rochas just passed school certificate exams; he needs to beat JAMB in his second term to become the Oga at the top”.
Owelle is not a man to rest on his oars yet and has hit the ground running. The cash crunch that has nearly crippled governance all over Nigeria notwithstanding, Rochas manages to do the impossible of squeezing out water from stone to keep governance afloat. I have coined the term Rochanomics to describe his Excellency’s brand of economics which other States in Nigeria needs to emulate.
My close friend who happens to be one of the greatest critics of Rochas would admit to me in his sober moments that (referring to Rochas) “di anyi nwoke a bu magician”. Even when Imo state was battling hard to pay salaries like every other state in Nigeria, government projects were still being funded and executed. Indeed other states’ executives in Nigeria need a crash course in Rochanomics! That simply means the continuance of governance despite lack of funds!
Rochas remains the only Igbo egg in the change basket owing to the way Igbos voted in the last election and I often ask myself, how did he foresee the current situation and remained in the APC fold as the last Igbo man standing despite the threat of the PDP rigging him out on a 2nd term?
Like a prophet, Rochas begged and pleaded that APC was the best deal for the Igbos yet his people rejected his pleas. Igbos would easily have picked up the APC vice-Presidential ticket but we let it slip away.
Even now Rochas still rues the missed opportunities that have left Ndi Igbo in a political limbo.
Rochas stands out as the highest ranking Igbo Politician with bridges traversing all over Nigeria and the world. This has made Imo the political Mecca of Igboland and placed on the shoulders of our governor the burden of Igbo political leadership.
Igbo politics needs a rebirth and push which history has placed on the burden of another Owelle following the exit of the greatest Igbo political colossus Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe.
Ndi Igbo, Owelle Rochas Okorocha holds the codes to our deposits in the vaults of the bank of history. Let us join hands with Owelle to ensure he gets what is due us from the bank of history.
Joseph Chimezie: Writes from Owerri, Imo State; @purely2express, firstname.lastname@example.org