Governor Okorocha of Imo State was in the news again for all the wrong reasons. Addressing members of a group who paid a courtesy visit on him, he lambasted both the Ohanaeze Group and Igbo politicians on the grounds that “they are cowards who do not have the courage to aspire to the presidency”. It has been vintage Okorocha to incessantly berate his fellow politicians and other groups in Igbo land for all manner of reasons. A top member of Governor Okorocha’s new friends in his new adopted party, All Progressives Congress(APC), told me that Okorocha’s grouse was anchored on the statement credited to the national chairman of Ohaneze Ndigbo group, an Igbo Cultural Union, Chief Gary Enwo Igariwey, to the effect that “Ndigbo are not ready for the Presidency in 2015” or that “Igbo nation is not in the race for the 2015 Presidential election”. It is also pertinent to state that when President Jonathan initiated the National Conference, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide expressed their support to him and promised to partner with him to make the summit a success. But when officials of the National confab arrived Owerri to interact with Ndigbo from Imo and Abia States, Governor Okorocha frustrated the move when he told the group that Imo State was not part of the Conference. Those who arrived for the event were shocked at this hostile disposition of the State governor. However, Governor Theodore Orji of Abia State swiftly arranged a substitute venue in Umuahia where Ndigbo interacted with the Senator Okorounmi-led delegation who came from the National Conference Secretariat Abuja. But for the swift intervention of Governor T.A.Orji of Abia State, perhaps, Abia and Imo States would not have had an opportunity of making an input in the agenda of the National Conference.
His recent attack on Ohaneze Ndigbo Group and his fellow politicians in Igbo nation is a blunder too many. The Ohanaeze Ndigbo Group does not deserve the ire of Governor Okorocha for stating their mind on an issue of critical importance to the Igbo nation. Out of the five governors in the South East geo-political zone, Governor Okorocha is the only one that is vehement in opposing President Jonathan’s second tenure. Yet, Owelle Okorocha is a major beneficiary of President Jonathan’s partnership in politics. It was President Jonathan’s actions/inactions that facilitated the emergence of Owelle Okorocha as the winner of the 2011 governorship poll in Imo State. That is a story for another day. Fact is that I was a member of the volunteer media professionals who took risks for the sake of the actualization of Okorocha’s governorship bid in 2011.My witness is Governor Okorocha’s Senior Special Assistant(SSA) on Media, Chief Sam Onwuemeodo, who also doubles as the publisher of a prominent local tabloid in Imo State, The White Paper newspaper. My immediate boss in the Okorocha campaign office was the Late Lolo Chioma Ogoke. May her soul find eternal bliss in the bosom of the Lord. So, I am talking from an informed mind.
What the National Chairman of Ohaneze Ndigbo,Chief Gary Enwo Igariwey was alleged to have said on the 2015 presidential election as it affects Ndigbo is similar to what the Southwest Zone did in 1999 as well as what the North did in 2011 presidential election. Of course the Ohanaeze boss has just seen what I saw immediately Owelle Okorocha joined APC in 2013.In a viewpoint entitled “May this mega merger not submerge Okorocha and APGA”.I pleaded with my governor to pull back from the brink of a bottomless chasm. I advised him to look before leaping into Afenifere Peoples or Arewa Peoples Congress, sorry, All Peoples Congress because the move could destroy his political career. I Even pleaded with him that it was even more honourable for him to defect to People’s Democratic Party(PDP) instead of APC. That viewpoint can be read online by Goggling the headline and read online. In 1999 when the PDP decided to give the presidency to the South West, the entire North did not present a candidate on the platform of the PDP. There was no politician in the North who berated or lambasted the Northern Elders or Arewa Group for the decision that the presidency should be zoned to the South West zone. On the part of the Yorubas, they carefully managed the opportunity in such a manner that what would have been a hostile/ protracted election petition suit between Chief Obasanjo of the PDP and Olu Falae of the All Peoples Party(APP?) was managed with care. At a point good reason prevailed and Chief Olu Falae said that, in the interest of the Yoruba nation, he was withdrawing from proceeding to the Supreme Court for an appeal on the Presidential Election result. He said that he would not drag Chief Obasanjo to the Supreme Court because what was at stake was the interest of Oduduwa land. He also said that if the matter was allowed to escalate and fester, some groups might hijack it to the detriment of the Yoruba land. That is why Olu Falae of the then APP did not drag Chief Obasanjo of the PDP to the Supreme court. Chief Olu Falae humbly listened to the counsel of the elders and AFENIFERE/NADECO groups thus paving the way for Chief Obasanjo’s 8 –year rule. The Northern politicians also tarried while Chief OBJ’s rule lasted.
In the 2011 presidential election, the Northern Elders decided to produce a consensus candidate under the PDP platform. After the vote by the elders, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku emerged winner while such big PDP chieftains like Generals Gusau (retd.) and Badamasi Babangida(retd) accepted the verdict with equanimity without abusing the Northern Elders who facilitated the consensus candidate in the person of Alhaji Abubakar Atiku. Although Atiku eventually lost out in the primaries, nobody has ever used harsh words on the Northern Elders for not allowing all the presidential aspirants to join the fray. These citations are good examples of how to build strong political institutions especially in an ever nascent and fledgling democracy as Nigeria.
In the 2007 Presidential election, Owelle Okorocha was in the All Nigeria Peoples Party(ANPP).During the Presidential primaries, Owelle Okorocha was almost coasting home as a consensus candidate until suddenly, Muhammadu Buhari joined the fray. Once Buhari joined the race, big politicians like Alhaji Shinkafi surrendered the ticket to Buhari. When asked why he was no longer in the race, Alhaji Shinkafi said that he was surrendering to Buhari because what was at stake was the interest of Arewa. This is how Owelle Okorocha lost out in the 2007 presidential primaries in ANPP.But as a victim of amnesia, he has forgotten that incident, otherwise he would not have abandoned APGA so soon to join the same Buhari who was his nemesis in 2007.
With the brief outline above , I don’t know why Governor Okorocha does not have any scintilla of regard to such a highly placed organization as Ohanaeze Ndigbo. I do not know why Governor Okorocha sees himself as the only intelligent Igbo person around. In Igbo nation, Governor Okorocha sees himself as the only cock that crows, yet it bothers me that while Okorocha takes undue liberties to cast aspersions or make inflammatory comments on his fellow Igbo politicians and President Goodluck Jonathan, he keeps silent when Ndigbo are being persecuted by NDI Hausa.
I am totally disorientated at Governor Okorocha’s hostile disposition to President Jonathan’s 2015 political agenda. I am exasperated because as a media professional who was embedded in Owelle Okorocha’s campaign secretariat in 2011, I am in a position to state without any fear of contradiction that President Jonathan’s benevolence was one reason we succeeded in actualizing Okorocha’s election victory. Owelle Okorocha ran for the 2011 governorship on the so-called APGA/PDP template. He juxtaposed his portrait( personal photo) and that of President Jonathan on his campaign flex banner. We appealed to the voters to cast their votes for our candidate, Owelle Okorocha, for the governorship poll while we told them to cast their votes for President Jonathan in the presidential poll. The template worked with seamless ease. However, the then Governor Ikedi Ohakim issued orders that the giant flex banner where the portraits of both Okorocha and President Jonathan ware juxtaposed be pulled down or else there would be katakata. On the 5th February, 2011, I wrote a viewpoint entitled “Jonathan/Rochas Flex Banner: What does Ohakim Want?” Please Google the headline and read my viewpoint on the internet. This tells you what we went through in winning the victory which Governor Okorocha is enjoying now.
After adopting the APGA/PDP template in 2011, I was sad to hear Governor Okorocha accusing Mr Peter Obi of introducing APGA/PDP in the 2013 November 16 Governorship election in Anambra State. It rankles that Governor Okorocha who used the APGA/PDP template to win election in 2011 has today become the most vociferous critic of this template. This is unfair as it borders on the so-called politics of stomach infrastructure.
There is a dire need for governor Okorocha to exercise circumspection and restraint in his utterances against his fellow politicians in Igbo land. It is wrong for Okorocha to live under the illusion that his unguarded utterances and ripostes against Ohanaeze Ndigbo or his fellow politicians add anything to his popularity or influence. If anything, he is gradually losing a large chunk of the popularity which he had in 2011.
What Owelle told us about Goodluck Jonathan: In 2011, Owelle Okorocha told us that there was God’s hand in the political career of President Jonathan and it was dangerous for anybody to constitute an impediment to Jonathan’s political agenda. He told us how GoodLuck Jonathan appealed to him(Owelle) to be Yar’Adua’s running mate since he, Jonathan, was more interested in doing a second tenure as governor of Bayelsa State. Owelle told us that he encouraged DR Jonathan to accept the offer of a running mate since it was God’s plan for him. But today, Okorocha is the only top Igbo politician who is opposed to DR Jonathan’s second term as President. The pertinent question now is “Has God told Owelle Okorocha that He(i.e. GOD) is no longer interested in President Jonathan’s political career? Can we have an answer to enable us shift grounds? Once again, I wish to emphasize that with all the PDP’s real or perceived shortcomings, Owelle Okorocha political future would have been better served if he had defected or decamped to PDP, since he said that APGA was dead.
Today, Owelle Okorocha’s once intimidating popularity has nosedived like a parabola. Today, the like of Kwakwanso and Atiku who were scared of Owelle Okorocha towering influence now have the effrontery to ask Owelle to be their running mate in the presidential race. At the height of his popularity, the like of Kwakwanso and even Atiku would not have had the courage to look Owelle in the face and ask him to be their spare tyre or a running mate. It is even more worrisome that Owelle appears to be begging to be allowed to be a mere running mate because it has dawned on him that the APC will never give him the presidential ticket. Instead of creating avoidable confusion in the politics of Igbo nation, Owelle should be decisive and take a stand on what he wants to do in 2015.Is he in the presidential or governorship race? His new consultants and friends in his new adopted party, APC, should kindly tell us what role our governor wishes to play in 2015. My dear Governor is the only politician in his class that is still in doubt as to what role he will play in 2015, even though the party primaries is just two months away.
In telling us his next role in 2015, let him recall that he had told a large gathering of party faithful at ROSY ARTS THEATRE, Ikenegbu Owerri, that “I will serve only one term and hand over to Owerri Zone”. That pledge went viral as it was given maxim publicity in the local, national and online media. As a volunteer media professional who worked for Owelle Okorocha ,I will be a disgrace to the Journalism Profession if I pretend that I did not hear or report that pledge which was greeted with a thunderous applause on that day at Rosy Arts Theatre, Ikenegbu, Owerri. It was not a secret pact between you and any group. This was an unsolicited public pronouncement made before a sea of humanity who were present on that great occasion of celebrating your reconciliation with Chief Martin Agbaso(Ochoudo) at Rosy Arts Theatre, Owerri. In Journalism, facts are sacred while comments are free. My dear Governor, may the Lord guide you as you pick your steps so that you do not step on the banana peelings which the sycophants and desperadoes around you have placed on your way.
Okorocha is seriously hurting his political career very soon, unless he refuses to accept APC vice presidential ticket.