The drama between the Imo State governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha and his deputy Sir Jude Agbaso concerning N458m contract scam is rather becoming scandalously interesting. The accusations and counter accusations, stone castings, tongue lashings, and revelations that have trailed the entire allegation have appeared more like political innuendoes that shock the average Imolite to the bone marrow. Whether the allegation is true or not is not our concern here as it belongs to the legitimate authorities to discern. To those conversant with politicians though, such gambling is characteristic of lies and half truths that have been the key to succeeding in the murky game; outshine me I outshine you, since for them the end justifies the means. The simple truth however remains, that what is as stake here is the poor tax payers’ money. Whether the transaction took place or not, whether the N458m was given in the afternoon or at night, whether it was delivered in the bank or with Ghana Must Go bag, whether it was squandered in any of the 5 Star or 7 Star hotels, spent on fast food or even cast into the never dredged Nworie River, whether it was given through a foreign or local contractor, definitely the clear message is that some whopping sum has disappeared as usual. The irony of the entire gimmick or to say, the annoying part of it is that while such millions and similar billions disappear in the hands of politicians in Nigeria who probably return after a while (remember Chief DSP Alamieseigha is returning with a state pardon soon), some men in Nigeria and their families die without the privilege of counting even a hundred thousand naira throughout their entire life time.
When I reflected on the manner that the accusation against the deputy Governor, Jude Agbaso of taking N458m naira gratification from the said Joseph Dina, Managing Director of Jebros Construction Company and his frantic struggle to exonerate himself, counter accusations from his cohorts against the governor as attempting to distort an agreement for selfish political interest; when I listened to the various groups coming either to buttress or to debunk the allegation, I perceived greater danger for Imo State since it is obvious that we are clearly not close to the purported rescue mission that was promised by this regime on her inception into office. What is more intriguing however is the need to realize that sin is like a chain. This is why Christ warned us outrightly in the bible, “Everything now covered up will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear” (Mt. 10: 26-27). This is the case at the moment where we now realize that the commitment between the Agbasos and the Okorochas is almost taking the dimension of that between Chris Ngige and Chris Uba in the Anambra election in 2003. Just follow their arguments very closely.
I read with gleeful disgust the revelations made by Chief Martin Agbaso, the elder brother to the deputy governor on the agreement between himself and the Governor Owelle Rochas Okorocha which were the conditions for conceding the governorship position to the governor, invariably the condition for tipping Jude Agbaso as the deputy governor of Imo State. According to the senior politician, the agreement which was made in 2010 in the presence of the then National Chairman of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Sir Victor Umeh who accompanied the Owelle Rochas Okorocha to plead that Chief Martin Agbaso stepped down for Rochas to contest the Governorship seat of Imo state then. His statement carried some implications. In his words, “I agreed on only one condition that I produce the Deputy Governor so as to keep the party machinery intact and we agreed”. Chief Agbaso also made the following startling revelations: -that he made available the sum of two billion naira to Governor Okorocha to prosecute the election; -that both agreed that Governor Okorocha would avail him some businesses to enable him recoup the money and the duo settled for the reticulating of water in Imo State and signed a contract for collection of internally generated revenue; -that the Governor reneged on the two agreements which put Chief Agbaso in debt to the tune of eight hundred and fifty million naira with Diamond bank; -that the Governor gave him 5000 dollars when they went for economic mission abroad which he in turn disbursed to the Governor’s aides; -that the present play to discredit his family (Agbaso) is targeted at truncating the agreement of a single tenure for His Excellency Owelle Rochas Okorocha (Cf. The Leader, Sunday, March 17, 2013, p.2). Wow!
When the Ngige and Chris Uba’s debacle took place in 2003, this was exactly how it began. Some clandestine agreements which became the conditions for pushing Chris Ngige into power with the intention to recoup and recover whatever was spent at the expense of the state had an adverse effect on the State. Nigeria and the world became aware of the overwhelming power, might and influence of the Uba brothers (especially, Andy Uba and Christian Uba) following the abduction and kidnapping of Anambra State Governor Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige from his office in broad day light in 2003. Chris Uba and his group fired back and told the press that Gov. Ngige signed agreement and swore secret oath of obedience and loyalty to his group of sponsors of political candidates, even at deadly fetish evil forest and shrines in Okija in order to be made the Governor of Anambra State. Their agreement then was made at the shrine and perhaps that is the difference as Chief Agbaso was not specific on the venue for these agreements. But the fact is that similar agreements have been made and who knows whether Imo people would have come to know of these terms if not for the misdemeanour of contract award and the bribery allegations that have come up now. No one knows also the means for servicing these loans and the reason for awarding contracts with vested interests in the State. All Nigerians in general believed after Senator Chris Ngige had fought headlong the assumed political godfathers in Anambra State was that the era of political godfatherism was over. The means by which Governor Owelle Rochas Okorocha came into power in Imo State and the commitment of the masses helped also to convince us more that we were heading towards an authentic political liberation.
It is unfortunate therefore to hear in any way that Imo State is still hoodwinked in political godfatherism of any sort. It must be stated that our ruling politicians must try to separate real governance from sensitive issues like contract award scam. It is also high time that the mentality of “sponsor me I settle you” was nipped in the bud in Nigeria’s politics. Sure we were not part of these agreements and our interests are in no way connected to how and where they will be settled. One sure thing Imolites have to watch out now is the return of political godfathers in any guise whatever. A State with political godfathers never flourishes. It recycles into settlement and counter settlement and is always responsible for economic and infrastructural underdevelopments. A State with political godfathers wallows in sycophancy and fawning obsequiousness. A State with political godfathers is characterized by uncompletedness, distraction and lack of focus because of the struggle to settle the stakeholders. It is marked by lack of accountability and unnecessary smartness. A State of political godfatherism is always known for vindictiveness because of the struggle to outsmart perceived obstacles on the way to settlement.
The current bribery allegation against the Imo deputy Governor and the unfolding events around it call for serious caution for Imolites. We need to emphasize that morality and sincerity must be separated from political interest and colouration. Unfortunately, we’re just in the first trimester of 2013 and the masquerade dance of 2015 has started intimidating the poor electorates. Who knows what will happen between 2014 and 2015? Ironically, politics is the only game that talks about life and future with great certainty and that is why one politician would selfishly withdraw for another with the strong intention of taking over after about four years without consideration and recourse to life and death. That is by the way. The issue is that there are obvious signs that political godfathers have started laying ambush to snatch Imo by hook and by crook again in 2015. This is the time to say no to such knowing fully the implications. We really need to pray for this State so as to be able to recognize wolves in sheep’s clothing on time. The era of political puzzles should be over. The era of political mirage should be wiped off in Imo. The era of gambling should be closed. The era of rhetoric should indeed be completely dusted. It is time to beware of political godfathers.
Fr. Vin Arisukwu Is A Rev. Father In Owerri Catholic Archdiocese.