Imo State was blessed with a prudent statesmanly Governor in the early 80s, the late Samuel Onunaka Mbakwe. Mbakwe loved Imolites and Imolites loved him. He performed creditably well as the state’s Chief Executive until the then Colonel Muhammadu Buhari and his military gang (including Generals Ibrahim Babangida and the late Sani Abacha) truncated democracy by overthrowing the democratically-elected government of the late Alhaji Shehu Shagari on the last day of 1983. Today, Buhari is President, democratically-elected, even though rumours of electoral manipulation that led to his second coming never went away.
Mbakwe achieved a lot for Imo state including building universities and schools and empowering the citizens by providing social infrastructures that aided economic emancipation. He was not corrupt; he neither stole from his people nor treated them with disdain!
Since Mbakwe died Imo State has had it terribly bad with leadership. From Achike Udenwa to Ikedi Ohakim, Rochas Okorocha to Emeka Ihedioha to the present ‘Supreme Court’ Governor, Hope Uzodinma, Imo had never fared any better. Certified con-artists, political fraudsters and petty minds had succeeded themselves at the Government House in Owerri.
One keeps wondering why Imolites kept ‘electing’ people of questionable character as their Governors. In the south-east Imo state is known to have produced many soundly-educated folks capable of bettering the legacy Mbakwe left behind. Yet at election time good guber materials are often sidelined or rigged out of the race because of lack of resources, godfathers or connections.
Unlike what obtains (arguably) in Anambra, Rivers and Cross Rivers States (where quality guber leadership is at display with one outstanding Governor ushering in another outstanding one) Imo State seems to be ‘cursed’ with poor governorship with one infantile looting showman taking place of another post-Mbakwe.
Last weekend in Owerri, the Imo state capital city, Senator Rochas Okorocha, the former Governor of the state and the incumbent Governor, Hope Uzodinma, were engaged in a ‘war’, war of words, war of attrition. According to reports online Owelle Okorocha had returned home to confront Uzodinma following the government’s seizure of the Royal Spring Palm Hotels and Apartments allegedly owned by Okorocha’s wife, Nkechi.
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Nkechi Okorocha as the proprietor of the Royal Spring Palm Hotels? Hell no! How could anyone in their right senses think about a former Governor’s wife owning such a high-brow estate? Where did she work to raise the huge funds needed for such investment? Arrant nonsense only an Okorocha is capable of spewing. Okorocha must not insult our sensibilities further with this wild claim.
The ex-governor stormed the estate along Akachi road in the state capital with his supporters, policemen, soldiers and personnel of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps on Sunday morning and ordered the unsealing of the estate. And as the news went out that Okorocha had gained access to the sealed facility by force the state government officials mobilized their own mob leading to free-for-all. Lives were reportedly lost, cars smashed and many sustained injuries following the fracas inside the estate.
Senator Okorocha was reportedly arrested by the police with two of his trusted aides, Ijeoma Igboanusi and Lasbrey Okafor-Anyanwu who accompanied him to the complex. For the Senator Governor Uzodinma had maliciously unleashed a “thousand thugs” on him and his supporters.
Governor Uzodinma appears determined to cut Okorocha to size. He had started out by attacking his graft-filled administration. Dutifully he goes about demolishing Okorocha’s so-called legacy projects. And some weeks back his government had taken over the Eastern Palm University, Ogboko run by the Rochas Okorocha Foundation. The Imo state government made it clear that the tertiary institution belonged to the state as it was registered as a state university.
Okorocha as Governor for eight eventful years had abused power. He was not only corrupt but corruptibly enriched his family, friends and lackeys. He absurdly constructed monuments for big thieves and criminals like the former President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, now standing trial for monumental presidential graft in his home country.
He made the acquisition of primitive wealth his only goal and achievement while grabbing people’s lands and establishing ‘business’ concerns with tax payers’ funds. He even created the Ministry of Happiness and appointed his mistress as a Commissioner! Personalizing the state political power and structures had its limits. Now is the time for comeuppance of some sorts. The chicken has, therefore, come home to roost.
When the battle for his succession raged Okorocha threw everything he had into the fray to ensure that his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, took power after his exit. But he failed thanks to the united opposition and the determination of an Adams Oshiomhole (then the ruling All Progressives Congress National Chairman) who ensured that a surrogate gubernatorial story was not written in Okorocha’s terms in Imo State.
Former Governor Okorocha remains a supremely pompous man gifted with a smart tongue but deficit in sobriety. He loves cheap money, illicit funds, yet he does little or nothing to establish a sound legacy whereever he goes. He loves good life but when opportunity presented itself for him as Governor to make life bearable for the majority of his people he failed woefully. Rather than empowering them he pauperized them further by stealing their lands and money!
Okorocha is very good at gutter-sniping. He has an infinite capacity to brainwash the gullible but has little interest in articulating developmental ideas. But Governor Uzodinma is not any better in any stretch of imagination. Where the present Governor dwarfs the ex-Governor is perhaps in the prudent management of resources and the appreciation of the larger picture in terms of stewardship.
When Emeka Ihedioha was Governor he had systematically sought to demolish the monumental ‘house’ of fraud Okorocha built while in office. At one point he had to mobilize his hitmen (accompanied with thugs) to madam Okorocha’s restaurant in Owerri to take possession violently of what they claimed were stolen from Imo people by Okorocha and his gang. These included cooking utensils, cutleries and refrigerators etc.
Dealing with a smart rogue like Okorocha takes courage and conviction. And it appears his successors are ready to put him in his right place.
If Okorocha had succeeded in installing his stooge, Nwosu, as Governor all the revelations of fraudulent gubernatorial transactions now coming out would have been swept away under the carpert! That is why it is very important that coordinated opposition efforts are always made to prevent any incumbent Governor from rigging election for his crony in order for the minion to succeed him. Continuity yes, but not in such sense!
What we hold to be true about the unfolding drama in Mbakwe-land is that two favoured northern executive stooges are fighting naked in the market square for the control of Imolites and the resources of the state. Senator Okorocha used his closeness to the northern oligarchy to rig himself into office as Governor and Senator. He speaks Hausa language fluently, even better than Igbo language!
And Governor Uzodinma was ‘programmed’ into office by the northern cabal through the controversial judicial intervention of the apex court in the land. Ihedioha was sacked by the supreme verdict of the ‘Supreme Cultists’ in Abuja and Uzodinma technically proclaimed Governor to the bewilderment of observers. How a candidate who placed fourth in the guber poll in the state could suddenly emerge the ‘winner’ could only be explained by the judicial machinations of the APC.
If Nkechi Okorocha (who is only good at preparing and serving sumptuous dishes and beverages to the executive parasites and their enablers) could be said to be the bonafide owner of the Royal Spring Palm Hotels and Apartments then that estate in dispute is mine for the asking! For peace to reign it must be ‘ceded’ to me. I have got in my possession every document procured in ‘Oluwole’ to back up my claim in the event of protracted litigation.
AUTHOR: SOC Okenwa…
Articles published in our Graffiti section are strictly the opinion of the writers and do not represent the views of Ripples Nigeria or its editorial stand.
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