BY DECLAN M. EMELUMBA
Power truly corrupts, and like they say, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State is a reminder of the truism of this saying, because this appears to be his lot.
Before his accidental ascendancy to the Governorship of Imo State, in 2011, he was seen by a good number of people as one with passion to help the down trodden.
The Okorocha Educational Foundation which helped in training the less privileged children was no doubt a major image maker for Okorocha. Going for him too was a public perception of a humble and God fearing man. But power in 2011, as governor, brought out the image of another Okorocha, one that is as incredible as it is frightening.
For those who watched in astonishment, the transformation from this fine image of a compassionate human to a gluttonous one, they were not really astounded that a mere mortal like Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State could have arrogated so much ecclesiastical powers to himself that he hoped to conquer a cosmopolitan and republican state like Imo and thereafter establish a political dynasty.
But it was just a matter of time before he was awoken from that grand illusion of installing his son-in-law Uche Nwosu, as his successor against the wishes of majority of Imolites. It took a discerning mind like Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and a determined fighter like Senator Hope Uzodinma to puncture and deflate that ego. What is left now is a hollow, trashing and the shadow of a man who would rather blame all but himself for his blunders and misadventure.
Because of his seeming absolute powers he could not take his crushing defeat in the hands of Imo APC members led by Senator Uzodinma as a sportsman. Instead, he is engaging the APC National Chairman in a needless and fruitless altercation. If he had comported himself he would have been saved this embarrassment which his self-inflicted agony has exposed him to.
Perhaps people would not have probed further to discover that behind the veneer of loquaciousness and political grandstanding, Gov. Okorocha is nothing but a politician who divine providence thrust with the opportunity to become popular but choose instead to become an emperor and a Hitler.
Indeed Okorocha’s boast to State House correspondents after one of his ego-tripping visits to the Villa that South East APC has already lost five million votes because his son-in-law failed a primary election, did more damage to his image than the years of governance which Imo people have been forced to endure, waiting for a payback time which he is currently reaping.
That infantile boast presupposes that if Okorocha quits the party today, APC will die in the South East. This attitude of being a super-human, even omniscience is what has been the bane of the governor as testified by no less a person than Chief Osita Okechukwu, Chairman of Voice of Nigeria and one of the leaders of APC in South East. This hubris is what has alienated all political heavy weights from the South East who on countless occasions have predicted doom for APC in the Zone should the Governor be allowed to carry on as a bull in a china shop.
That also explains why he lost the confidence of his trusted allies including the Deputy Governor, Eze Madumere as they finally cut him to size politically. Was it not the same Oshiomhole, that he is now castigating, that saved him when the coalition forces wrestled the party structure from him? He lost out entirely after the state primaries. Oshiomhole rescued him but warned that he should not insist on his in-law succeeding him as Imo people were against such greed.
Albeit, the fact that must be emphasized is that this messianic image projected to Nigerians by Okorocha when he is outside Imo state is totally false. Going by his antecedents, the governor is at best a struggling politician who always rode to power on the shoulders of others, especially those he has now chosen to denigrate and insult. Between 1999 and 2011, Okorocha contested for governor, Senate and presidency without winning any. As they say in political parlance, he lost his deposit in all those contests. That he came to power in 2011 was not based on his own popularity. It was a combination of forces, chief of which was the anger of the people against the then incumbent governor, Dr Ikedi Ohakim.
It is on record that before Okorocha joined APGA in 2011, he had been around more than four political parties including PDP, where he could not win any of the primaries, and the Action Alliance which he founded. He went on his knees to plead with Ralph Uwazuruike of MASSOB who introduced him to Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu and eventually Chief Victor Umeh, the National Chairman of APGA. The plan to feature him was consummated the day Victor Umeh buried his mother. At the home front, Chief Martins Agbaso in consultation with some church leaders gave him the support.
So Okorocha’s election in 2011 was facilitated by the Catholic Church, Ojukwu, the Agbasos and several Imo people who were not happy with Ohakim, and not by any phantom popularity. Even at that, it took a supplementary election where very high PDP chieftains turned against their party and candidate for Okorocha to be governor. Apart from Ojukwu who is late, all those involved can corroborate this fact. sadly the first victims of his governance turned out to be Archbishop Obinna, the Agboso family and then the artisans. The convoluted impeachment of his deputy governor, an Agbaso, marked the beginning of impunity and lawlessness in governance of the state.
As a man who claimed to be popular, did Okorocha find it easy going back for a second tenure? Not at all. After squandering his political goodwill in the state, he had to struggle again through a bye-election and the support of renegade PDP leaders to be proclaimed governor. He at one occasion declared that he owed nobody anything because he knew how he won his second tenure. Does that paint the picture of a man who is popular?
Coming nearer home, Senator Hope Uzodinma, the man who rescued APC from Okorocha’s planned dynasty, had twice defeated him (Governor) in Oru Zone (Imo West Senatorial District) where they both come from. In 2011 when Okorocha was running under APGA, Senator Uzodinma swept the entire district which is the largest in Nigeria. PDP won the House of Representatives seats in the area. Then in 2015, Okorocha as a sitting governor could not deliver his Senatorial Zone to APC. Hope Uzodinma then of PDP defeated him and the candidate of APC, Senator Osita Izunaso. PDP also won three of the four House of Representatives seats. So wherein lies this popularity that Okorocha is boasting of?
Contrary to the claims of the governor, if his son-in-law had won the APC governorship ticket in Imo, it would have been a ticket to nowhere except the doom of APC in the State. Okorocha is merely deluding himself of an imaginary popularity whereas he is very unpopular and disconnected from the populace beginning with Christians, especially Catholics, artisans, civil servants, traders, pensioners and professionals.
On the other hand, all strata of Imo Society are celebrating Uzodinma’s victory as the APC candidate and this has brought them back on track to vote massively for APC in 2019. Uzodinma’s popularity in Imo is infectious and it will not only guarantee victory for APC in the state but rake in far more than the five million votes from the South East.
It is heart-warning that the national leadership of APC correctly read the mood of Imo people and stopped Okorocha from foisting a political dynasty in the state. I was amused to read my friend, Sam Onwuemeodo, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, disputing Oshiomhole’s assertion of an attempt by Okorocha to build a political dynasty in Imo. According to Sam, Okorocha making Nwosu, his son in-law Governor does not amount to dynasty. This sounds tepid and uninformed.
Every dictionary defines dynasty as succession by blood line or by relatives. If the plan for a man married to one’s daughter to succeed him as Governor of a state is not dynasty, then only God knows what else can be. However by pitching their tent with Senator Hope Uzodinma, Imo people have spoken loud and clear against any form of dynasty.
The ‘Almighty’ Okorocha should sit back and reflect on his past and travails thereto, and admit that he has squandered a God given opportunity to institutionalize his pre-2011 claim of compassion for humanity in place of gluttonous quest for power. Thereafter he should begin to make sincere restitution to God and Man so that, maybe, the disastrous consequences that await every such betrayal can be mitigated.
Emelumba, Journalist and Former Imo State House of Assembly Member is the Director, Media and Special Duties to the Campaign Organisation of the APC Governorship Candidate, Sen. Hope Uzodimma.