“Indeed Okorocha ‘is an example of what a leader should not be’…In other climes, people like Okorocha cannot ascend to the high Office of Governor… Therefore, that Rochas is a Governor today in Nigeria is indeed an insult on our collective psyche… His governance of Imo State has been a catastrophic and unmitigated disaster…”‘
Between January and February 2017, Nigerians were shocked – and entertained as well – as Governors Okorocha and Obiano fought on the pages of the newspapers, with both calling each other names. And like a prophet, Governor Obiano said Governor Okorocha’s reign in Imo has been catastrophic. Since after making that statement the Anambra State Governor has been proved right.
Governor Obiano has been proved right because Governor Okorocha has been busy burning his stick at both ends. At each passing day Governor Okorocha burns his opportunity of becoming a celebrated leader in Imo. It is rather ironical that in May 2011 Owerri was agog as the people celebrated the coming of the man they saw as their rescuer. But today Imo people are rioting and raining curses on the same man. It is also baffling that in 2010/2011 the Governor joined those who told lies against Governor Ikedi Ohakim and organized Black Mass, but today, Imo people are wearing black clothing and armbands and holding Mass for the same man in whose hands they ignorantly placed their future. But like ivory, he broke them all without mending.
The major reason Governor Okorocha is losing all he gained in 2011 is because he has emersed himself with the blame game and he has become the Master of this game. Okorocha is actually playing out the scenario in George Orwell’s classic, the Animal Farm, where Napoleon justified all his failures by putting the blame on the exiled Snowball. Whereas this evil strategy worked in the meantime to force the loyalty of the “captured” animals, it did not solve any problem as the owner of the Farm shockingly staged a successful comeback.
Okorocha, after more than six years of failure in office as Governor has not been able to shake off the hangover of winning an incumbent governor in 2011. He has always allowed this hangover influence him, and he sees former Governor Ikedi Ohakim in everything he does, even in his cup of tea. This is why the blame game has not ended, even though he knows that his victory in 2011 was never because he was the better man but because of a high-level conspiracy. That is why Ohakim’s ghost keeps hunting him.
It may not be proper to say that Imo people are now hosts to Mr. Karma, or to say they are paying for their sins and conspiracy against a just man. But on Saturday, 26 August, 2017, Imo people woke up to see that the unthinkable has happened.
The State Government deployed security officials to enforce its illegal demolition of Ekeukwu Owerri Market, the ancestral market of the people of Owerri Nchi Ise of over two centuries. The government has also been accused of mobilising armed bandits to the market. Why the State Government considered the presence of security personnel inadequate remains curious, but what is clearly is that government showed its thorough preparedness for the demolition of the market.
And if you have seen a video of the shooting that ensued just for market demolition, you would conclude that the government took the war to the door steps of the locals. This level of preparedness and banditry shows that the decision to demolish the market was unpopular with the people, and therefore, the state government was prepared to force its way through, including bringing down pandemonium on the people that elected it.
In the cause of unleashing terror on the people, three persons have been reported dead. One of them, and most shocking, is the 10 years and only-son Somtochukwu Ibeanusi, who was alleged to have been killed from gunshot from security officials who enforced the illegal act of the government. Others who sustained gunshot injuries have been hospitalised.
But in the midst of this, the State Government is shamelessly displaying the worst insensitivity not even seen in war situation. The Imo State Government has not only denied that someone was killed, they have claimed consistently that the demolition was successful and peaceful.
From claiming that the picture of the dead, particularly the 10 years old Somtochukwu Ibeanusi, were imported, the government now claims the boy was not killed at the scene of havoc.
To worsen the matter, Governor Okorocha threw away all decency, call of duty and statesmanship and joined in the despicable denial and blame game, when he blamed the opposition political parties in the state as being responsible for the story of those who allegedly died by the guns of security men who were supposed to protect them even from government aggression.
The Governor said: “I relocated Ekeukwu to stop crime in the area and clean the city of dirt so that light can come in, but the Sadducees and Pharisees cashed in and changed the narrative. Only yesterday, they said they want to pay condolence to a child that was shot. Let me tell you, neither the Police nor any government official shot any gun, and till today nobody has shown where the blood of that child was. But this happened along Mbaise Road, not even on Douglas Road”.
By joining the shameful debate on the death of 10 year old boy the Governor brought low the office of the governor. This despicable display of tomfoolery by the Governor has also unwittingly proved to the whole world that Governor Obiano was right when he said that
“Indeed Okorocha is an example of what a leader should not be”.
Governor Okorocha’s claims disappointingly do not stick, despite that the Commissioner of Police in Imo State lost all professionalism in the deployment of the police to Ekeukwu Owerri Market, when he knew the matter was in court and an injunction duly issued by the state’s high court, and his shameful denial of the killings and shootings.
The CP should instead bow his head in shame, because he is a good example of what a commissioner of police should not be. Did he not have any record that his predecessor, CP Taiwo Lakaku, stood on the side of law and due process and refused to back the demolition? Did he not have a record of the meetings Owerri leaders and elders had with his predecessor? If a man considered not our brother could protect us, why should someone who is our blood rise against us?
What was the trapping? The police leadership should quickly rise to the occasion and show officers who have left their call of duty to become oppressors of the people the door. They are no longer fit to wear our well respected and adored black uniform.
But in a publication in Punch newspaper of 28 August, 2017, a group known as Spaces for Change provided the Governor and indeed any sincere person what could be a link towards resolving the quagmire. The group said: “A number of Owerri natives who dared to resist the demolitions were shot at, killing two persons, while injuring three others.
“We confirmed that the slain boy (10 years old Somtochukwu Ibeanusi) lived at 9 Oguamanam Street, Owerri, and that the incident occurred on Multichoice Line in the market. We further confirmed that three persons died during the ill – fated demolitions and three others were seriously wounded, and are currently hospitalised.”
This statement, alongside other publications in the social and traditional media, should have been taken as clear lights to resolving the issues. Granted that no amount of resolution would bring the dead back, they are capable of resting the issues.
But the government prefers the easy path to blame game, hoping that the situation will die away anyways and people would move on as usual. Therefore, the government would try to force our attention away from the nagging issues to the relocation of the traders to a new uncompleted structures that lack every facility a market should have.
They want us to rather focus our attention to the 300 (govt says it is 2000) taxis given to ban keke operation in Owerri. The footsoldiers of the government in their lack of good sense of judgement and professional decorum have made fruitless efforts to retell the failed Ohakim story of beating a Reverend Father. They forget that though there has been no proof to that – not even Okorocha’s CPS has been able to show any evidence in court on this falsehood – killing three men, including a 10 year old promising only son, Somtochukwu Ibeanusi, and injuring many – is never the same as beating up anybody.
The claim by the the Governor that Somtochukwu Ibeanusi was killed at Mbaise Road tends to divert attention and to suggest that there was another round of crisis at that end. In the end the story is meant to absolve the government, himself and the security agencies of any culpability.
But the point remains: who authorized the deployment of the military to the Douglas Road as reported in the media? Moreover, Multichoice Line is not same as Mbaise Road. Also, though Douglas Road houses the Market, it is also a residential area. This is why many people were allegedly hit by gunshots right in their houses.
Furthermore, the embarrassing claims by the police and the government will kill the investigation they said they are carrying out, and at the end the outcome of the investigation might be highly questionable.
It is abhorrent that our Governor descended to the level of joining the debate of the killing of the 10 years old boy. After six years it is expected that the Governor should have mastered the art of governance and do his best and leave the stage, but the Governor is still incurably attached to blaming the opposition and former Governor Ikedi Ohakim.
Continuously mastering the blame game and elevating it to status of state policy will never solve any problems but could write the name of the Governor boldly on a page of infamy.
While Owerri leaders should continue to preach peace to their youths, it needful to state here that the silence from the Federal is discomfiting. That this level of carnage happened in Imo State in the presence of Federal Government security agencies and the Federal Government is keeping quiet is really disturbing. I recall that it took the intervention of the Federal Government for the notorious Vampire to apprehended and his case “concluded”. We don’t trust the investigation the state government and the police in the state said they are doing. We need FG to intervene.
Owerri leaders should also take legal steps to ensure that those took part in the ingloriius act is never allowed to rest, because what happened in Owerri should never be allowed to serve as incentive to anyone to continue to unleash mayhem on others. The leaders should also ensure that no amount of scheming is allowed to force the parents of Somtochukwu Ibeanusi to dance to pressure and make deny that their son was killed in Owerri.
Beyond this, Imo people should open their eyes and minds and search for that man with the Midas touch and ensure that only the man that will serve the interest of the people is voted as Governor. And perhaps, events in Imo State these past months could press it on all of us to be careful of what we believe about others.