Okorocha’s Channels Television Interview – By Ethelbert Okere
After watching Imo state governor, His Excellency, Chief Rochas Okorocha, in an interview with the popular Lagos-based Channels Television on Monday, May 28 from my place in London, I felt I should share some thoughts with people back home, but alas, of the six people I called, including politicians and my colleagues in the pen trade, only one acknowledged to have watched the program.
The excuse ranged from “no light “ to the normal “I have been very busy “ .On fellow responded that he has since stopped listening to Governor Okorocha. But when I asked if he watched the interview given two days earlier by Senator Ben Uwajumoju to TVC station , he quickly came up with the “NO NEPA”(even when there is no more NEPA) excuse. That’s by the way. As for me I watched the interview with keen interest and for obvious reasons. His Excellency was characteristically eloquent but he was inchoate, boastful and said things that are not altogether true.
In my view, it was a very bad outing not only for the governor but also for the entire people of the state. How did I come to such a conclusion? One, the governor said any public office holder that does not have a “second office “would steal public funds to be able to make ends meet. The question then is: what is this “second “office and what is my own governor’s second office. It is a well known fact that the Constitution of Nigeria does not allow public officers to hold office in the private sector.
Apparently, His Excellency has made a revelation that, though might sound obvious, requires further interrogation at the national level not just Imo state. Two, His Excellency claimed that he was not aware that his current chief of staff, Mr Uche Nwosu, was in a relationship with his daughter before he appointed him a Commissioner in his administration. According to the governor, he would not have appointed Nwosu if he knew of the relationship because he expected that a “certain class “of people should have come for his daughter.
I am aware that some people may disagree with this history (of the relationship) as given by the governor but my own take is that the claim should embarrass both Mr Nwosu and his wife, Governor Okorocha’s daughter. It is a talk down on both of them and does big harm on the governor’s insistence that Nwosu should be the next governor of the state . If a mere six to seven years ago, Mr Nwosu was not of the class that should come for a daughter of Chief Okorocha,who was just coming in as a governor, then how did he, Nwosu, rise to a level, within the same period of time, in a manner that the governor has become so crazy of him, Nwosu, that today, it is Nwosu or nothing. Three, the governor claimed, for the umpteenth time, that no single politician of note was on his side when he ran for the office of governor in 2011.
Again and as we have pointed out severally before now, that is a blatant lie. Again we ask: What of the Agbasos, the Chris Anyanwus, the Onyeaguchas, the P.C Onuohas, the Fabian Osujis and, even if they are not “politicians”, the numerous catholic clergy men. Then, His Excellency’s claim that the then president, Dr Good Luck Jonathan, was on the side of the then governor, Ikedi Ohakim, was another big lie he told to his interviewers. It is no longer a hidden matter that President Jonathan and his administration were behind the emergence of Chief Rochas Anayo Okorocha as governor in 2011.Again ,I refer him to my well received book, DEMOCRACY BY MILITARY TANK, published in 2012. His Excellency took pleasure in mentioning names on national (actually international) television. He was too free in reeling out the names of his opponents: the Izunasos the Uzodimmas ,the Araraumes, the Nzeribes, the Iwuanyanwus etc. That is not entirely dignifying.
In particular, his claim that the national working committee (NWC)of the APC used Senator Ostia Izunaso,a member of the committee and a citizen of Imo state, to get at him for opposing tenure elongation for the committee, is a pointer to lack of sophistication and tact. Yes, Izunaso is a member of that committee but he is first and foremost a citizen of Imo state who chose to be on the side of the people in opposing Governor Okorocha on his wrong choices. It is a matter of coincidence that he happens to be in that committee at this critical time.
Governor Okorocha is not the only APC stalwart that was against tenure elongation. Why hasn’t Ashiwaju Bola Tinubu, the very fellow who spearheaded the anti tenure elongation matter, not accused the NWC of also master minding the crisis in Lagos state where there were even parallel congresses. In the interview, the governor gave two reasons why he thinks Imo APC stakeholders moved against him even though he postured as still being in charge. One, according to him, is his son-in-law (Uche Nwosu) matter. The other, the governor said, is the issue of zoning especially of the office of governor.
And this was how he attempted to dismiss the two issues: On Nwosu, the governor enthusiastically stated that Nwosu “is not a blood relation “.He then went ahead to compare himself and Nwosu with the Bush and Clinton families in America. According to the governor, President Bush had one of his sons as president and another as state governor; President Clinton had his wife as Secretary of State and later a presidential candidate. Every Imo citizen should be pained and embarrassed by this show of little understanding, by their governor, of the inappropriateness of his analogies.
President George H Bush did not hand over the US presidency to his son, George W.Bush and Mrs Hilary Clinton was not appointed Secretary of State by her husband. Her presidential candidacy ,which Governor Okorocha also alluded to, happened fifteen years after her husband left office. On the issue of zoning, His Excellency pointed at President Shehu Shagari,the late President Umaru Yar’Adua and the incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari,all of who come from the same North West geo-political zone.
Then, he went on to try to rub in the fact that both Yar’Adua and Buhari are from the same state. The above allusions are also quite curious. Drawing a parallel between the politics of the Nigerian presidency and the zoning argument in Imo state is both a mischief and an assault on the collective psyche of the citizens of the state.The politics of the Nigerian presidency is about North and South not between geo-political zones and it is for this reason that some elements, especially in the North, dismiss the clamour by the Southeast geo-political zone to be deliberately allowed a turn in the presidency.
Even so, who told Governor Okorocha that the fact that all the presidents so far are all from one geo-political zone is not an issue among the people of the entire North. Of course,he knows better. Needless to say, it is hard to see any Nigerian who would be impressed by Governor Okorocha’s spurious analogies because apart from being what they are, it has since become clear that they are put forward for selfish reasons. It is for this reason that the Imo APC stakeholders decided to stop him from doing further damage to the image of the party as the 2019 general election approaches.
In my article on the outcome of the APC congresses in the state, I pointed at the fact that Imolites as a whole, not just APC members, expressed so much joy on realising that the governor is no longer to do with the APC entirely as he wished. I also noted that that realisation or feeling has put the rating of the party over and above that of the other parties. Not unexpectedly, at least three rejoinders have been written by PDP enthusiasts in an attempt to debunk by claim. But that is a topic for another day.
Before the recently held congresses ,it was not a hidden matter that the governor had completely demarketed the APC in Imo state with his style of administration and even personal conduct. Of course, he should have by now realised that he was merely deluding himself in believing that the other stakeholders, considering especially their caliber and exposure, would have continued to allow him go the way he was going.They were not alone. The concern went beyond the state as it was no longer a hidden matter that the party stood the chance of losing the state if things continued that way.
The feelings were palpable because the entire citizenry felt that the APC as a party was behind the governor’s high handedness especially in the wake of his administration’s so called urban renewal program which the people believe is being implemented with cruelty. Interestingly, Governor Okorocha, in the interview under reference, gave the impression that it is just a matter of time before he will undo what the entire APC collective in the state has done.
He talked so fondly of Governor Adams Oshiomole, widely believed to have been anointed as the next national chairman of the party; and in such a manner that leaves no one in doubt he is certain that the in-coming leadership will reverse the outcome of the congresses in Imo. The people are waiting.