By Tonnie Iredia
When something happens to anyone, let others not think, it can never happen to them especially when it concerns politics and elections. It happens in Nigeria and elsewhere quite often. A friend from Imo state, south east Nigeria told me in 2011 that he voted against former governor Ikedi Ohakim because the latter allegedly insulted a catholic priest. Last week, he confirmed to me on phone that he regretted his action against Ohakim at that time because things are now worse on the same subject.
He added that the current governor that he assumed came on a rescue mission is not just pitched against an ordinary priest but against the Archbishop of the Diocese. On one occasion, supporters of the governor allegedly assaulted the Archbishop openly. My response was short, “what comes around goes around.” Eze Madumere, Governor Rochas Okorocha’s Deputy is probably best positioned to appreciate this popular saying, following what he has gone through in the last couple of weeks.
Last Tuesday, the State House of Assembly commenced an impeachment process against him in his position as the current deputy governor. Although the impeachment was said to have been influenced by a number of wrong- doings, reportedly committed by the man, it is an open secret that Madumere’s real problem is that he dared to show interest in contesting the next governorship election in the state scheduled for 2019. It is only non-Nigerians that would wonder why the ambition of a deputy to become the governor at the expiration of the tenure of his principal could end up as a criminal offence.
In our clime, it is so seen not just as a minor crime but as treason which explains why it is hard to find a governor who willingly supports his deputy to succeed him. Madumere knows this full well; yet, decided to face the wrath of Rochas Okorocha whose main interest is a kind of third term agenda where he plans to hand over to his son in law. For daring to be an impediment to the emergence of an Okorocha dynasty in Imo state, the governor has decided to impeach his deputy and completely kill whatever ambition remains in him.
Imo, like a few other states in Nigeria is the home of fake impeachments, so the deputy governor can be described as already impeached as soon the governor indicated his wish to that effect. One thing that makes the feat accomplishable with ease is the quality, nature and disposition of those who make up the membership of the House of Assembly. It has always been so with Imo state legislators. The last time they similarly functioned was 2013 when they removed Sir Jude Agbaso from office as Deputy Governor of the state; over nebulous charges that were framed to meet the wish of Governor Okorocha.
On that occasion, the House made history as they completed the entire impeachment process consisting of 11 steps in ONE day – February 28, 2013. Agbaso, the then deputy governor was not given any chance to defend any of the charges before he was impeached. In later years, an independent investigation by our anti corruption agency described the charges as fabricated having found that the bribe money allegedly given to Agbaso was intact in the bank account of the fake giver.
Thus, Madumere has no business expecting justice because as a man who became deputy governor following the removal of Agbaso, he knows how the game is played in the Imo House of Assembly – a legislature which operates quite often as a drama-house. As we recalled elsewhere not long ago, history has shown that Imo legislators are probably better as comedians than as law makers. In 2011 for instance, they did many things in the last 5 days to the expiration of the life-span of the House. They removed their speaker and his Deputy and elected new ones; approved the suspension of nine other members; replaced the Chief Press Secretary to the former speaker and froze all the bank accounts of the House. The new Speaker then announced that within the short period remaining, that is, 5days, ALL the obnoxious laws earlier passed by the House, would be reviewed. All the house committees were then dissolved while the political parties in the house were requested to submit the names of their members to reconstitute the new committees supposedly to function for the next 5 days. With this inherited legacy, of miracle workers, the present assembly is acting to type
The governor fully conversant with the material obsession of some of the legislators; mobilized them to impeach Madumere. First, they were recalled from a two-month recess to do the business notwithstanding that the said recess only just began a few days earlier. It is against this background that one can easily understand what is happening between Governor Rochas Okorocha, his Deputy, Eze Madumere and the Imo State House of Assembly and why the process will leave no room for any iota of justice. To start with, the House has suspended all the 5 members who are loyal to Madumere and who are therefore likely to oppose the assignment at hand. The only thing that the law makers have done to depart from the past is that they are allowing the current impeachment to last more than one day. But no matter how long it lasts, analysts are certain that for Madumere what came around is going around.
But then, if the House finds the deputy governor guilty on one of the current charges that he was once convicted of theft in the United States, Okorocha is likely to be indicted at the end of his own tenure for foisting on the Imo people, a deputy governor he had the opportunity of knowing was an ex-convict. From stories already making the rounds, many common activities at home and abroad in times past between Madumere and his boss may be laid bare to the discomfort of the impeached and the impeacher.
That this may happen appears likely because what comes around goes around in the spirit of retributive justice. It is irrelevant that Madumere is a prince, being the son of the paramount ruler of Achi Mbieri in Mbaitoli community. It does not also matter that Madumere has been a long associate of Okorocha and that he had put his life on the line to save his principal from several troubles. In 2012 for instance, Madumere was reportedly detained at the Owerri prisons for 21days for allegedly assisting Okorocha to evade criminal prosecution. Alas, in politics, there are no permanent friends; the only thing that matters is permanent interest.