Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State recent yelling to the effect that no governor in Imo State’s history has either equaled or surpassed his records which enjoyed screaming headlines in the media has expectedly opened the Pandora’s box, triggering several questions: what informed this obvious misinformation, distortion of facts and awful attempts to re-write records of governance and public administration in Imo?
Why the interminable, fruitless and most tenuous efforts to draw an unpleasant comparison between past governors and Okorocha? Why the attempt to delineate a needless, analogous parallel between Chief Samuel Onunaka Mbakwe’s records and Okorocha’s? It’s outrageously bizarre; the metrics of such opaque parallel don’t simply add up.
“What Governor Okorocha has achieved in Imo as governor have surpassed the grand total of the achievements of all those who had governed the state before him. We expect him to challenge us on this claim if he so wishes,” Okorocha’s aide, Sam Onwuemeodo said in a statement, in response to one Victor Oye, National Chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance(APGA)! This slip is one just too many.
It’s repugnant to history and most appalling to the narrative of public administration . For a governor who has an unedifying reputation for precipitating, prompting controversial remarks, he might well see nothing practically wrong with this claim! While I admire Okorocha’s capacity to speak his mind, no matter how distasteful, unpleasant and untruthful but there is a time when discretion takes precedence over the eloquence of words. As the proverbial saying goes ”silence is golden”.
Richard Rolle, author of the Psalms of David, one of the legendary writers of the 14th century asserted ”Silence is a woman’s best garment.” And Thomas Carlyle, the famous Scottish poet and Philosopher concurred; ” Silence is as deep as eternity, speech as shallow as time.”
Practically, Okorocha’s claim to the exalted title of the supreme, matchless Imo Governor of all times, is most atrocious. He simply took a stab in the dark. It’s odd, most distasteful, to say the least in a state where Mbakwe, who by all accounts, is regarded as the father, shining star, peerless and unexampled governor, once presided with amazing strength, sterling character and unmatched patriotism. Mbakwe, unlike all civilian governors that came after him, had a compelling presence, great intellectual panache and top- of -the range administrative skills. He was humane; his humanity defied the odds by transforming, nurturing the young State into a top -notch, prime leading centre of industrial excellence between 1979-1983. Till date, Mbakwe is revered and admired on account of his extraordinary administrative ingenuity, stunning political sagacity and patriotism.
Yes, he was a role model and a great source of inspiration to many; that’s why you simply can’t pen a compelling narrative about excellence in public administration without mentioning Dee Sam as Mbakwe was fondly called by all admirers. He had presence, gait and magisterial strides. Unlike Okorocha, he presided over Imo with exemplary dedication, visionary leadership and amazing faith in the values of industry and patriotism. Dee Sam wasn’t a man of easy fortune neither was his reign dogged by misfortune. He believed in the immortal, enduring words of John F Kennedy: ” efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” He industrialized Imo based on a creative zonal model which saw him constructing all major roads in Owerri, Aba and Umuahia as catalyst for development.
Thirty-five years after Mbakwe’s era, it remains a mystery how Imo tragically dropped-off in development and political matrix. Elections all over the world are about choices. It’s often about the choice citizens make between good and bad; between the angel and the devil. That’s why Samuel Johnson, the English Poet and awesome editor said:“The fountain of content must spring up in the mind, and he who hath so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own disposition, will waste his life in fruitless efforts and multiply the grief he proposes to remove.”
Johnson who penned The History of Rassels, Prince of Abissinia, amongst other great works was a remarkable writer who peppered men in public service with troubling criticisms that left them gasping for breath. His reason was simple; they represented public trust but many distressfully turned public trust into public tears!
Johnson’s words perfectly resonates with our times. Governor Okorocha first made his mark by etching his trade mark mantra ”my people, my people.” with an unvarnished, plain and bare-faced doggedness on the landscape. In return, he won. It was an undeserved claim to supremacy and primacy. And he prevailed against electoral challenges from dozens of opponents and political gunfire in 2011 and 2015. The game has however changed.
Okorocha who once boasted he would install his son in-law-Mr Uche Nwosu- as his successor is now fighting the political battle of his life! Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, National Chairman of the APC recently weighed in on the turn of events.
”There is a united voice against Governor Okorocha…when you look at the totality of the events in that state, I think you can get a clearer picture of what is going on there. There is a united voice calling for a different way of doing things.” With a united voice moving effectively in a distinct, independent direction , it may well be the end of the political road for the all-powerful governor! But until then, it’s been a tale of public trust, public tears!
Oma Djebahh, former Delta State Commissioner for information and Chairman of The New Diplomat Multi-Media Platform is currently at the School of Digital Media and Communications Strategy, University of Toronto.