I have just read a masterpiece by my friend and inlaw, CY Amako, on Owelle and his serial acts of ingratitude wherein he sighted me as one of those whom he should apologize to. CY was doing this because he was aware of the role I played in mobilizing resources for APGA in 2011 towards Owelle's election. I did so as a loyal and committed party man whose party wanted to unseat the incumbent Ikedi Ohakim. And at that time, the clamour was for any other person besides Ohakim to become governor. No one should lose sight of this background to Owelle's ascension to office in 2011. While some of us continue to wonder at what Owelle has done in the past seven years by presiding over a thoroughly dysfunctional government, it's indeed a more telling fact that his years in office has turned him into a symbolic masterpiece of ingratitude. The other day I read about his displeasure with H.E Eze Madumere, Jude Ejiogu,Senator Ben Uwajumogu,Dr.T.O.E Ekechi, etc calling them ingrates for daring him on the issue of who succeeds him! I was truly bewildered at this observation and equated it to the pot calling the kettle black! If indeed there is anyone to be so characterised, it is Emperor Rochas since all those who made it possible for him to be Governor have all been abandoned and given the short end of the stick.
Aside from myself, there are several others including Chief Martin Agbaso, Ifeanyi Uba, Emeka Offor, Arthur Eze, Uzu Awka(ozo gidigbam), Captain Iheanacho, Senator Chris Anyanwu, etc who made huge contributions to Owelle's emergence in 2011. All of them have been caste aside and, indeed, punished for their honest contributions. Someone like Captain Iheanacho has suffered untold humiliation in the hands of Owelle in the course of implementing a needless road expansion program that has resulted in the dismembering of his Owerri residence! Have we forgotten that Senator Chris Anyanwu was thoroughly beaten by Owelle's aides in an altercation with the governor's convoy?
Going further, what do we say of the gold card members, a club of APGA supporters in their hundreds, who contributed a minimum of N500,000 each to Owelle's election in 2011? With all the promises made to them, they have all been forgotten whilst the emperor presides over our commonwealth with unparalleled brigandage.
One may ask, where are the millions of imo citizens, galvanized by the church in imo, who have been traumatized by the actions of Owelle since he became governor? Their shops and sundry sources of livelihood have been destroyed by a man they all rooted for seven years ago!
Where are the countless advisers( Chief P.C. Onuoha, Prof Fabian Osuji, Chief Raph Ekezie, Chief Mike Obioha, Dr Sylvanus Amaeshi, Kanu Nwankwo, etc) who were appointed by Owelle in 2011? When I was made the Chief Economic Adviser in 2011,alongside these eminent citizens, a friend of mine scorned at the development telling me pointedly that it was just a game of deception aimed at burnishing Owelle's image and giving the impression that he listens to people and that the man, Owelle, that he knew so well would never accept anyone's advice. How true and prophetic?
CY Amako's experience, although he may not want to share it, is also most saddening. He had told me of how Owelle visited him at his Maitama Abuja residence twice to ask for his support in 2011. CY rejected offers made and only asked for the protection of his Oguta lake concession granted by the Tanko Zubairu administration and which was at that time under threat of revocation by Ikedi Ohakim. Owelle agreed to protect this valid and proper concession. And what happened when he got to office? He did exactly the opposite by stripping Chief Amako of the concession. In the process, Chief Amako lost hundreds of millions of investment (including borrowed funds) to this wilful acts of wickedness.
Since I left Owelle in 2014, I have seen/discussed with him only five times. Twice as I attempted to prevent the destruction of Ekeukwu Owerri market, once at Owerri Airport in 2016 and twice at the Dozies in Egbu this year. In the matter of the Ekeukwu market, I had proposed an arrangement that would have led to redevelopment of the market on the condition that the state grants a C of O over the expanse of land to a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to be provided by the traditional land owners. With a promise by Governor Rochas to grant a certificate of Occupancy, I had gone ahead with discussions with two banks to provide the funding for the project. I thought it was a done deal providing for a win-win situation. In otherwords, the government's goal of urban renewal would have been achieved by ridding owerri of the slum that the market had turned into, and at the same time respecting the title of the traditional land owners.
I recall discussing this proposal with my good friend and Lawyer to Owerri people, Barrister ken Njemanze, SAN, and he welcomed any genuine effort aimed at an amicable resolution , provided the legal interest of Owerri people was respected. And he expressed his doubt as to the sincerity and commitment of Governor Rochas to an amicable resolution. And how true he was as the governor went ahead to demolish the market at a time stakeholder engagement was in top gear to find a solution.
Beyond destroying Ekeukwu market, Governor Rochas has since been on a destruction spree that has levelled several markets in the state without adequate notice, compensation or provision of acceptable alternatives to those displaced in the process. Where markets have been rebuilt and alternatives supposedly provided, they have been rebuilt using cronies and government appointees with the pricing of the shops completely out of the reach of the original owners! And these were the same traders that rooted for his emergence in 2011.
The rest, as they say, is history.
And as someone who had previledged and, perhaps, unparalleled access to him, it should be a story as well as a lesson to even those around him today. Given my experience and his involvement(and that of his siblings) in scuttling my senatorial aspiration in 2014, I have long decided to stay away from their company. I had issues with his siblings because of my opposition to their unbridled, overbearing involvement in state matters beyond an acceptable remit as well as Owelle's refusal to abide by the tenets of due process as an abiding principle in governance. It is clear to all and sundry where this has led us, sadly and regrettably.
Whilst the citing of my senatorial ambition might sound personal, it nonetheless resonates with the essential Owelle who has become a signature mark of ingratitude in his dealings with all who may have assisted him in the past. If in doubt also ask Senator Ararume who I understand made monumental contributions to his reelection in 2015. And no one ,including those around him today, would escape this treatment. Only time will tell.
When I see the shenanigans playing out around Owelle in his bid to install Uche Nwosu as governor, I feel sorry for the young man. Having worked with Uche in the Imo Exco, my personal experience of him is that of a quiet, humble lad. And I can bet he never nursed the ambition to be governor but is being used by Owelle for a self serving end, that is, to protect him from giving account of his stewardship after 2019. Uche is just a pawn in the chessboard of Imo politics who is being propelled by an unfortunate private agenda. And he lacks the will or capacity to reject same.
Finally, I would like Imo people to see Owelle for who he truly is - a man who has been ungrateful to them for voting him governor, ungrateful to all those whom God used to accomplish this task and a mortal who today appears to be playing God. For all of us who feel pained by Owelle's serial acts of ingratitude, please take heart since" there was no way to know the mind's construction in the face" In all of this, I know one thing - only God makes kings. And that God whom we serve is a jealous God. And to Imo people I dare say it is well. And by his grace, Imo will rise again.
APGA Gubernatorial Aspirant 2019.