19th February 2018
By Ebere Wabara
AT the twilight of his disastrous tenure in Abia State as governor, Theodore Ahamefule Orji unsurprisingly tried to domesticate governance by nursing a senatorial ambition, arranging for his wife to become a member of the House of Representatives and his son, Chinedu, the alternate governor, to emerge the speaker of the House of Assembly—at that point there was no question of his anticipatory membership because it was guaranteed.
I had thought that such a tragic thought would never recur in any part of this country. It never occurred to me that there was going to be a more tragic development in the same axis. There is this inexplicable feeling I have that these two sister-states (Imo and Abia) are the most cursed in Nigeria.
Since the glorious exit of De Sam Onunaka Mbakwe, Imo State has never had any leader of comparable status. Instead, what we have had in the state have been declining leadership and worsening governance, aggravated by Imolites’ benumbing indifference. I wonder if De Sam would have ever contemplated some of the shenanigans being enthroned in the state by the current governor Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Rochas moves from one comical act to another. He creates all manner of ministries and gets his wife and other members of the immediate and extended families to supervise or run some of those ludicrous establishments.
Even before the dust kicked up settles down, he comes up with the megalomaniac initiative of erecting statues of foreigners—some questionable characters—in Owerri! While all these deviances are going on, the despondency and docility that have engulfed the state had long gripped the House of Assembly and pummeled it to a rubber-stamp legislature, just, of course, as you have in other states.
Now, what of the vocal public: Labour, rights activists and organizations, market unions, religious bodies, traditional rulers, professionals from the state, and, most importantly, the APC? Can’t the APC call one of its own to order? Could it be that an individual is stronger than the party? Everyone either seems to have been compromised or is afraid of the murderous nature of Nigerian politics! There is so much timidity! If the late Nelson Mandela remained in his comfort zone, the history of South Africa would probably never have been rewritten.
When it all began, I thought that it was a hoax or a fluky stuff to test public opinion. It has gone beyond conjectural asininities. Last week, Rochas endorsed his “diligent and humble” son-in-law and current Chief of Staff to the Government House, Chief Uche Nwosu, as his successor. It is confirmatory of the fact that we have lost our moral compass. The political complexion that pervades our society today is such that a public office holder can scandalously foist one of his mistresses on the electorate as his successor.
Is there no morality in politics? What is the propriety of a man contemplating his son-in-law to succeed him as governor when there are millions of equally qualified and more qualified Imolites to occupy that office? If, God forbid, Nwosu succeeds, it means the Okorocha and Nwosu families would have ruled the state for 16 years! This is despite the irrefutable fact that Okorocha’s nightmarish years in the Government House is still a subject of neurological enquiry!
If Nwosu emerges governor under any disguise, it simply means a perpetuation of the same nuclear dynasty more or less because spousal and marital/family relationships in this matter transcend mere betrothal affinities. The whole issue becomes a sour grape when it is realized that Okorochas’ governance of Imo State keeps raising dust everyday and leaves more questions unanswered.
Nothing is happening in Imo State except all sorts of trivia that do not address the acute infrastructural challenge, youth unemployment, growing insecurity, Okorochas’ needless altercations with neighbouring governors over mundane matters. Why would Rochas ever think of endorsing his son-in-law to succeed him? When did the governance of Imo State become a family enterprise or aristocracy that passes from one generation to another? Even if Nwosu was the most qualified, is there no ethical compunction towards dissuasion?
Anytime I hear or read about the inanities going on in Imo State, I wonder what the elite are doing either to halt the degeneracy or forestall this kind of son-in-law business. What are Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha and other present and past federal lawmakers doing to checkmate Rochas? Where are Imo top professionals that I know like Emeka Oparah, Martins Uba-Nwamadi, Dr. James Okoroma and Louis Okoroma, among copious others? What are they doing? They should not fold their hands and wait for divine intervention. Is there no way they could collaborate and comprehensively sensitize other Imolites to the currency of tragedies and the looming replication through the instrumentality of this son-in-law misadventure?
Well-meaning Imolites and other concerned Nigerians must resolve and abort this latest fad of Rochas. And the best way to do it is to ensure during polling that the Deputy Governor Prince Eze Madumere, an incorruptible man with superlative integrity, transnational competency, global exposure, robust antecedents, profuse administrative-cum-managerial pedigree and obviously the most qualified of all those in the governorship narrative, or any other credible candidate gets elected—certainly not a surrogate or lackey of any shade. If Rochas is not performing to expectation, it follows that his godson will be worse than him. Nepotism is anachronistic to best practices and good governance.
Recently, I was scandalized when a top Imo citizen—an industrialist of repute—declared in a full-page solidarity advertorial that Rochas was doing very well and that his critics were nonentities who did not understand the governor’s peculiar style. I said to myself that the problem of this country is caused principally by the elite and marginally by the downtrodden that are easily swayed with N500-sandwiched bromated bread during voting! Overall, abject poverty is antithetical to our electoral profile. Unfortunately, our politicians understand this and capitalize on it to commit electoral fraud, where bovine brazenness fails!
Who will redeem Imo State and save it from the asphyxiating clutches of Rochas? This is the time to come in before it becomes irredeemably late. No other person will do it except Imolites and possibly supported by non-native like-minds. Rochas has had enough. Next year should be payback time. Nobody should allow it to slip away at all costs. The serial circus show in Owerri should have been completed with the endorsement of Mrs. Okorocha as her husband’s successor and Nwosu the deputy governor with Mrs. Nwosu as the Chief of Staff!
It must be underscored that the question is not whether Nwosu is eminently qualified or not, but the etiquette of it all. By the principles of our democratic practice of zoning and natural justice, I strongly believe—irrespective of whatever countervailing rationalization—that it is improper for Nwosu to take over from Rochas. He could come up in 2027 or thereabouts after Prince Madumere would have inevitably completed his second term.
Rochas says he does not believe in zoning of governorship, but subscribes to a governor who will deliver results, his constituency notwithstanding. This dismissive stance cannot change the reality of zoning and its variations in our political life navigated by expediency and other necessities of our peculiar existential humanism.