There has been rumour in the state that Governor Rochas Okorocha is not only bent on handing over the governorship of the state to his Man Friday, but particularly there is anger that the Governor plans to crown his protégé and son in-law, Hon Uche Nwosu the Governor of Imo State come 2019. Though the Governor is yet to name his successor, he has set out certain offensive rules which the people think is one of the strategies to actualize his aims. If the rumour that the Governor is making subtle moves to make Nwosu succeed him is true, then one can pardon those who have indulged in day dreaming, because this is one of such.
Apart from Okorocha’s notorious age limit for the 2019 governorship election and his regular claims to have retired “old” politicians, Imo people fear that the Governor wants to repeat the 2014 episode, where he succeeded in making Uche Nwosu, who was then the Commissioner for Lands and Urban Planning, the governorship candidate of Imo State under the APC. Nwosu had in very bizarre circumstance won the APC governorship ticket for the 2015 governorship election on Tuesday, December 9, 2014. It is also feared that the Governor wants to reward Nwosu for sacrificing his opportunity for him to return to Douglas House in 2015. One good turn deserves another, not so?
A report in the media in 2014 said that “Nwosu was ratified as the party’s candidate in a congress that took place early Tuesday morning at the International Conference Center, Owerri.” The report also expressed fear that “It is believed in many quarters that Nwosu’s candidature was meant for him to hold brief for Governor Okorocha who is seriously vying to secure the party’s presidential ticket.”
The report also said that “It is also learnt that Nwosu was chosen because he is the only person that would not disappoint the Governor but hand over the governorship ticket in any case he loses the APC presidential ticket.” Was the fear expressed in the media misplaced? Not at all! Everything happened in details. Smarting from his head shattering loss of the presidential ticket for the third time, Okorocha who had promised in 2010 and 2011 that he was going to do one term as Governor of the state and then return for the presidency, made a shocking U-turn and recovered the governorship ticket of the party from his loyal son in-law in a well-orchestrated fashion.
“After losing out at the just concluded presidential primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Governor Rochas Okorocha has emerged as the governorship candidate of the party in Imo State”, said a media report. “Okorocha was adopted on Thursday by party’s delegates at Imo International Conference Centre, Owerri after his son-in-law and commissioner for Lands and Urban Planning, Uche Nwosu, stepped down”, the report added.
But why would Uche Nwosu do that? A decoy for 2019? Whatever your guess, the media report quoted Uche Nwosu, the man in the eye of the storm, saying: “Nwosu who later withdrew from the race said his decision was based on personal and family reasons.” That was it. Family ties and consideration have been the major characterization of the Okorocha government. And it is on this unhealthy suspicion that Uche Nwosu is the only person the Governor is comfortable with that gave rise to the fear that the Governor might be scheming to hand over the reins of power to him. Some say the Governor is doing so in order to cover his tracks in the midst of growing concerns for the misapplication of several funds, such as the bailout fund, the Paris Club Refund 1&2, the 13% Oil Derivation, local government funds, federal allocations and internally generated revenue, etc.
But I have few words for those who believe in the Uche Nwosu dream: I want to quickly hazard the damage a governor Uche Nwosu could do to Imo State. And in my hazardation, I refer first to the biblical story of King Rehoboam in 1 Kings 12:10 to 17:
“And the young men that were grown up with him spake unto him, saying, Thus shalt thou speak unto this people that spake unto thee, saying, Thy father made our yoke heavy, but make thou it lighter unto us; thus shalt thou say unto them, My little finger shall be thicker than my father's loins. And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
“So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king had appointed, saying, Come to me again the third day. And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men's counsel that they gave him; And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
“Wherefore the king hearkened not unto the people; for the cause was from the LORD, that he might perform his saying, which the LORD spake by Ahijah the Shilonite unto Jeroboam the son of Nebat. So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents.”
As could be deciphered from the biblical account, a governor Uche Nwosu would deepen the sorrow and hunger in the land. If you thought that the state has been plunged into the deep mire, don’t buy the Greek Gift of Uche Nwosu for Governor. That would be Imo State’s greatest undoing. There is a saying in Igbo land that the kid watches the she-goat chewing the curd. If Uche Nwosu has watched Okorocha’s dismemberment of the state, a governor Uche Nwosu would be the final phase in the destruction of anything left undestroyed. If the Governor had sacked 10,000 jobs beneficiaries and other statutory appointees, then we could expect that the state civil could be privatized or concessioned with every civil servant going home weeping and gnashing their teeth. If the Governor had sacked elected officials of the local government and has failed to conduct local government election for close to six years, we could well fear that under Nwosu, the local government system could be wiped out completely, or at best ran like Uche Nwosu Holdings. If the Governor does not believe in due process and the rule of law; if the Governor does not obey court rulings, then you can imagine what a governor Nwosu could do, since it is expected that a son would surpass his father.
This fearsome scenario reminds me of the story of the ewe that asked its offspring how long it could take them to learn their lessons. Imo people should wake up now and behave like the wise sheep who sees events before it happens, perhaps learning from past experience. We should not believe the testimony of those that deceived us in 2011 and brought us to this sorry passé. Don’t get me wrong, our experience with the man Nwosu is being programmed to succeed is worrisome and terrifying. Under his watch promises mean nothing but words; they are no bonds. Under his watch Imo has gone back to the 18th century and it would require stronger hands than Nwosu to wriggle the state from the morass it has been dumped for close to six years and rekindle the fire in the people. We need someone Imo people can believe and follow.
But that is no longer the case with Okorocha, because under his watch calls for accountability is heinous crime and any mouth that opens to say such must be condemned in Judgement, so says his CPS. If you are in doubt as Elder lambert Ojukwu of the Imo State Independent Newspapers Publishers Association (INPA) and the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Community Watchdog newspaper. Under Governor Okorocha, job, job, job, means sack, sack, sack; and factory, factory, factory, means the destruction of businesses and spreading of hunger on the table. Under Governor Okorocha, empowerment means dolling out N100,000 to 90 years old women while the youths roam the streets in search of never existing jobs. These are the things Nwosu would deepen under a continuity campaign.
Don’t get me wrong. I have not said Nwosu is a bad guy, after all governance and politics go beyond being a good guy or bad guy. It means delivering on target. But we must not lose sight of the saying that “evil communication corrupts good manners”. In 2011, one of the story lines for “Rochas We Know” was that he was a philanthropist. Today, that same philanthropist is spreading hunger and making things more difficult and leaving the people more frustrated than ever. During the campaigns for the governorship election in the state in 2011, I escaped lynching with my colleague, Chimezie Elegbua, just because we did not speak favourably of Okorocha. But few weeks ago I was at Relief Market, Owerri, to buy some chicken. Guess what! The seller, a woman, refused to sell chicken to me because I joked with her, that the Governor was taking good care of them. How things change.
A governor Nwosu would always consider personal and family ties in the running of government businesses. And guess what we would see: the deepening of the government of my family, for my family and by my family. That is one thing Imo people are tired of. We need someone who does not reckon with personal or family ties in running the affairs of government. If Nwosu could withdraw from the governorship race in 2015 on the consideration of personal and family ties, one wonders how far he could go in protecting personal and family ties, especially when his father in-law’s interest clashes with public interest.
And of course, I have to warn Imo people who want to see a government that is transparent and accountable and does not swim in corruption: we need to cast our net on the other side of the sea if we want to make a good catch, and not the Okorocha/Uche Nwosu way, because their way leads to broadway and straight way to suffering and hunger and joblessness. In an attempt to sell the Nwosu product to Imo people, a lot of colour is been spread on Nwosu to make him look so beautiful before her suitors. But we must look beyond the façade. These days, what we see is the same story of philanthropy and broad smiles, as we saw in 2011 and 2015. We have seen those, but what we got in return is total ruination of the state.
But in the midst of the philanthropy of Chief of Staff Nwosu lies the question of the source of the seemingly stupendous wealth that exudes from him. Is he having free access to public till, as some people suggest? If the argument in some quarters that Nwosu is wealthy should be supported to mean that he would run a zero-tolerance-for corruption government in Imo, then we need to know the source of such wealth, because no one picks wealth on the streets. Or, is he wealthy because he married the Governor’s daughter? I ask this question because those that know say that Nwosu applied for the 10,000 graduate jobs of the Ikedi Ohakim era and did not get the job.
If we rely on this and the claims that Nwosu has become wealthy within a period of six years, then we need quick answers as to “how manage”. If Nwosu’s source of wealth is his involvement in Okorocha’s government, then we can fear for the worse for a governor Nwosu.