Okorochas’ Lofty Dream Of New Political Order & Plot To Create Political Dynasty
By Ekene Bob-Ekechukwu
The advent of Rochas Okorocha in to politics in the late 90s has been viewed by many enlightened political pundits as an albatross to Imo politics in particular, and Nigeria at large. This has been proven by the series of controversies that trailed his political career from inception. First of all, other prominent Igbo politicians of Okorocha’s era were mostly graduates and as such were academically groomed for leadership.
Besides one or two others with similar academic deficiencies, Okorocha ventured in to politics with a reportedly spurious Advanced Diploma in Public Administration from the University of Jos. This is a big minus, judging from the fact that Igbos are not only known for their industry, but also for their passion for sound education.
Secondly, while other Igbo politicians of his era were in touch with the grassroot from their constituencies, Okorocha didn’t know anywhere in Imo State before he officially ventured in to politics in the late 90s. He was viewed as a northerner, having lived all his life in Jos, Plateau State. Before that time, there already existed, howbeit naturally, a political order in the State, where the Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu’s, Arthur Nzeribe’s, Evan Enwerem’s, Maria Egu’s et al, held sway. Although Okorocha was relatively wealthy then, these political leaders in the State viewed him with great suspicion and distrust.
It took the efforts of the renowned Legal Luminary cum politician, late Prof Ebelechukwu Osieke, who was Okorocha’s old friend in Jos, to sell him to the Imo political elite. In fact, Okorocha can’t write his history without Prof Osieke whom it was reported, fed and clothed him in Jos, and used his political contacts to secure the “ALGON” Jeep contract which was Okorocha’s big break. Charasterically, in the end , Okorocha paid the man back with a bad coin. He never showed gratitude to that man or any member of his family even when he served as Governor for 8 years.
Having said that, one may rightly say that Okorocha’s sojourn in to politics was for selfish reasons ab initio. Apart from the Prof Osieke instance, Okorocha’s political antecedents confirmed that. When he was first appointed the Chairman National Airport Management Authority (NAMA), Okorocha was dismissed for allegedly embezzling $1m. After that, Obasanjo appointed him as his aide and fired him again, reportedly due to his involvement in another sleaze. Thereafter he went ahead to form a political party, the Action Alliance in 2005.
Reliable and truly successful politicians are those who play politics with principles. Unlike Gov Emeka Ihedioha who has maintained a principled stance in politics by remaining loyal to one political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from 1999 till date, Okorocha has changed party the way he changes his clothes. When democracy was restored in 1999, Rochas Okorocha competed in the primaries to be People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for Governor of Imo State, but lost to Achike Udenwa.
He moved to the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), and was an unsuccessful candidate for President on the ANPP platform in 2003. He returned to the PDP, and President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed him as Special Adviser on Inter-Party affairs. Okorocha formed the Action Alliance (AA) party in 2005, planning to become a Presidential candidate for the AA in the 2007 elections. He again returned to the PDP, and in September 2007 indicated that he was interested in becoming PDP National Chairman.
After Governor Ikedi Ohakim decamped from the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) to the PDP in July 2009, Okorocha denied that Ohakim had taken over the PDP in the state, saying he was named as leader since he was Governor, but a proper PDP congress should be held to decide. In 2011, he joined the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to challenge Ohakim for the post of Governor, and won. In 2015, he led his own faction of APGA to form the All Progressives Congress (APC), where he remained till today; although he is currently on indefinite suspension for anti-party activities.
Okorocha became Governor of Imo State in what according to many political pundits could be refered to as a “political accident”. He wrongly benefited from the political coup carried out against the government of Ohakim, which was then viewed by Imolites as high-handed and oppressive. Okorocha rode to power on the back of the masses; the artisans, Keke/Okada riders, taxi drivers, traders, civil servants, etc, who all gave him unalloyed support. Little did the people of Imo know they were falling from “frying pan to fire”.
Immediately Okorocha seized power, he abandoned the people the same way he abandoned Prof Osieke’s family, and set about to appropriate the commonwealth of the people for himself and family. In the pretext of destroying political “godfatherism” and “godmotherism” in the State, he plotted to retire the old political order in order to create a new political dynasty for himself and family, which Imolites refer to as “Familiocracy”.
This saw to Okorocha, going against every political ethics and decency to appoint his son-in-law Uche Nwosu, Commissioner for Lands, then Deputy Chief of Staff and later Chief of Staff. He also appointed his sister Ogechi Ololo Commissioner for Happiness, before then she had also served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs.
He also appointed his wife Chairman of Imo State Amnesty Committee to address issues concerning repentant militants. She was also officially in charge of the office of the Secretary to the State Government (SGI), and three other Ministries including Women Affairs, Health and Works. Okorocha also ensured that his in-law, Prof Anthony Anwuka cornered the slot of Imo State at the Federal Executive Council, where he was appointed Minister of State for Education. Apart from that, it was reported that all the major contracts in the State were either executed by Okorocha himself by proxy or by members of his family.
Under Okorocha, the State retrogressed and every institution of governance, the Executive, Judiciary, and even the Legislature were virtually destroyed. The Legislature was the most hit, as he ensured they remained “Rubber Stamp” lawmakers unable to perform their constitutional duty of checking his excesses. In the pretext of youth empowerment, he also appointed inexperienced young persons, who didn’t have courage to advice or criticize his unpopular policies as Commissioners. He also sold the people a dummy with his spurious “free education” programme, which further compounded the nagging problems in the education sector.
In all, every single move made by Okorocha as Governor, was calculated to hoodwink the people in to believing that he came for a rescue mission, whereas, he actually intended to enslave the people. This accounted for his desperate move to install his son-in-law Uche Nwosu, as Governor, while at the same time he would be the Senator representing Orlu Senatorial District. At a time, it was reliably rumoured that he had wanted to set up a political dynasty that would rule the State for the next 16 years.
Starting with his son-in-law Nwosu ruling for 8 years as Governor, and then handing over to his own son Aham, who would in turn rule for another 8 years.So much for a “rescue mission”. However, the people having clearly read the handwriting on the wall, resisted his selfish and immoral moves by ensuring the elected, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, Governor. Okorocha unceremoniously exited office, leaving Imo in disarray and with an unprecedented, crippling debt burden of over N200bn, with nothing to show for it. Thereby further justifying my earlier postulation that his advent into politics was purely for self aggrandizement.
Based on the foregoing, any right thinking person can’t fail to agree with former President Goodluck Jonathan and the Leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, whom at various times, referred to Okorocha as a disgrace to the political elite and to the Igbos. In developed climes, individuals like Okorocha can’t be allowed access to power for any reason whatsoever. That is why, the people of Imo State must support the Rebuild Imo Government in its efforts to to rebuild the State and return it to its past glory.
A popular Igbo adage says, “agbisi gbaa otele, ya amuru ako” (once beaten, twice shy). Therefore, it is now incumbent on Imolites to ensure that political liabilities like Okorocha and all others connected to him, are not allowed to rule this State again. For as the say, ” first fool, no be fool, na second fool be proper fool”.
By Ekene Bob-Ekechukwu Esq.; email@example.com