WHY do you like courting controversy and cheap popularity all the time? Does it mean there will be no governance in ImoState without causing confusion to attract attention?
Why creating and engaging in unwarranted political gimmick which was also evident when you were Senior Special Adviser to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo on Inter Party Relation, where you were fingered in the controversy involving then Chief Don Etiebet-led national leadership of the now defunct All Nigerian Peoples Party, ANPP, that destabilized the party.
These germane questions are meant for the executive governor of ImoState, Chief Owelle Rochas Okorocha as he stirred another controversy in the commercial city of Aba recently on his alleged botc hed plan to secretly launch his Rescue Mission Programme and All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state. The choice of the venue of the botched event which was Abia State Polytechnic Aba, without informing or getting the permission of the Abia State Government raised questions and suspicions about the real motive of the organisers.
But reacting to the development, Okorocha’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr. Chinedu Offor, had denied that the event was a political one.
According him: “The Rescue Missionaries had a convention in Aba and decided to use the occasion to honour His Excellency on his birthday. They are a group of missionaries from the South East and South-South zones. They got police permit, paid for the venue and had their receipt. His Excellency was getting ready to go and honour their call when we heard that the powers that be had ordered the event cancelled. Somebody is to trying to be funny by cancelling the event.
“They should be careful when they are dealing with God. It had nothing to do with APC. I wondered why political meaning is being read to a purely religious event. Did you see the APC flag? Did you hear the presence of any APC governor? If the APC wanted to do a rally, it would have been an open affair. There is no politics in the event and nobody has told us why it was cancelled.”
But dismissing Offor’s claims as laughable, Chief Press Secretary to Abia State governor, Mr. Ugochukwu Emezue, alleged that Okorocha planned to use the occasion to launch his pet project called Imo Rescue Mission without permission from the school authorities.
Emezue wondered why the Imo State government would want to sneak into Abia to hold such a programme without observing laid down procedure.He warned Okorocha to restrict his Rescue Mission programme activities to Imo State, stressing that Gov. Theodore Orji would leave no stone unturned to ensure that the hard-earned security in Abia State is not compromised from any quarter.
In the face of all these claims and counter-claims by both state governments on the botched event, Okorocha as the executive governor of a state ought to have known what protocol demands in such situation.
Why should he decide to leave his fellow governor of a sister state in the dark over the arrangement of his alleged birthday event in the state if his intentions and that of the organisers were clear and non-political as claimed by his Chief of Staff? Ordinarily if Okorocha is on a private visit to a friend’s house in Aba to celebrate his birthday or do other things privately, nobody has right to stop him, not even the security agents because he has constitutional right to association and movement.
But when it has to do with political gathering of any sort, there is need for permission and notification from apropriate authorities in the host state. Every Nigerian is aware of the security challenges in Aba before the state government tackled it headlong and brought it under control.
The city is very sensitive for a sitting governor to sneak into the place for an event being organised in his honour without informing his fellow state governor in-charge of the state. It is expected of Okorocha to alert or reach out to governor Orji ahead of the event or even invite him to celebrate with him. If time was against Okorocha, he would have reach Governor Orji through his mobile number or at worst direct the organizers to send invitation card to the state government.
Questions should also be asked on how the organizers hide under the religious banner to secure the Abia State Polytechnic Aba, a state-owned institution as the venue of the event, only to turn around dying minute to make the event a political gathering. This also raises question on the integrity and sincerity of the acclaimed men of God who happened to be the organizers of the event on behalf of Okorocha.
In the country today, we are all aware that everything and anything is possible under religious cover, that is why every right thinking person and responsible government must be very careful, wary and cautious of the questionable activities of the acclaimed men of God, who are deploying religious tools to destabilize our society for pecuniary and selfish interest.
Besides, as two sitting governors sister states sharing common boundary, it is expected that there should be proper channels of communication between the duo to avoid this kind of the ugly development. This was apart from the normal channels of communication among their aides. I wonder why Okorocha has always refused to make use of such window of opportunities to do things right and proper since he assumed office as the governor of the state. Before his coming into office in 2011, the relationship between Imo and Abia state was very cordial and mutual. But everything sudden changed with Okorocha’s grandstanding leadership style. That is why he often likes making mountain out of molehill in every situation to gain cheap political popularity.
Nobody is against and should be against his style of leadership in as much as such recognizes and is in line with the laid procedures of doing things in government circle. But in a situation where such style is affecting or disrupting official protocol, Okorocha and his aides must be call to order. And that was the Abia State Polytechnic authority have done by cancelling the event. Okorocha's alleged birthday ceremony is not more important than the security of the state.
The recent episode in Aba involving Okorocha had once again reminds one of Okorocha’s abrupt and immediate closure of Abia Line Transport Company motor park in Owerri some months ago which caused row between the two state governments and inflicted untold hardship on the commuters using the transport company.
It took the timely intervention and pragmatic leadership approach of Governor Orji who upon his return from oversea trip to resolve the matter in the interest of peaceful co-existence of the two sister states, taking into cognizance that two people cannot be mad at the same time. Not quite long, Governor Okorocha signed abortion bill into law in the state without due consultation with relevant stakeholders.
A development which pitched him against the clergymen in the state, before he made u-turn to repeal the law and apologise to them. Governor Okorocha, we all know cannot and will not accept such disrespectful treatment he meted to Abia State Governor Theodore Orji from any fellow state governor talkless of ordinary mortals like us. Leaders must learn how to lead by example and accord respect to the exalted office they are occupying.
Constitutionally, the state governor is the Chief Security Officer of the state and should be in the knowhow of any gathering or event that may pose security threat for the state. The governor also has the right to put a halt to such gathering, if security report at his disposal shows otherwise. Okorocha should learn how to align himself with his fellow governors especially those from Southeast zone for economic and political development of the zone and the country in general.
He cannot do it alone and should not behave as if knows more than any of his colleagues. He must learn to be a team player, and avoid issues that will always stir controversy for his government, and paint him and his government in a bad light. Okorocha should always remember the words of Former American President, Abraham Lincoln that character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.
Mr. GODWIN ORJIMMADU , a university lecturer, wrote from Owerri, Imo State.