By Declan Emelumba
Of late, Sam Onwuemeodo, the life Chief Press Secretary to the dynasty of former governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, has arrogated to himself the status of the guru and special adviser to the government on public relations, information management and public administration. Wired by this delusion, he proceeds to publicly present himself, even if fatuously, as the oracle of government image management. Even more silly, he dared to pontificate for Governor Hope Uzodimma and his government, how to manage information. Sadly, like a man estranged from history, particularly his own history, he is quick to draw comparisons on information management between the Okorocha era and the Uzodimma administration.
Consequently, an Onwuemeodo, who did not only act deaf and dumb, but collaborated with Okorocha to embarrass everyone with many information management blunders, suddenly finds the effrontery to lecture the Uzodimma administration on the type of speech the governor should or should not present to an Editors’ Conference. He even went further to advise that the governor should be thrown into mourning when Ikenga Ugochinyere Imo’s house and vehicles were burnt. This is pitiable and tantamount to someone struggling in futility to give what he obviously does not have.
Is it not really pitiable that this self – acclaimed professor of public information management,
for all his “grandmastery”, could neither filter nor remediate the grotesque utterances, policies, and missteps of that fatal Okorocha regime? Onwuemeodo could not mount his high horse when Okorocha proclaimed that he purchased his second term as governor (as opposed to being elected by the people), or when he upgraded the wanton disobedience of court orders into a state policy. “Professor” Onwuemeodo could not also lecture his pay master, Okorocha, when he denounced due process in governance or when he “proposed” and signed the abominable four-year rolling budget. He could not also find his voice when his boss berated pensioners for living too long, or when he chased civil servants into the bush in the name of compulsory farming. What was his response when he restricted the attendance of civil servants to work to three days in a week.
Indeed, the irony is obvious. A man who was part of the information management team of the Okorocha administration – which ended with the worst public image of a state government – draws from the same Okorocha information (mis)management strategy to pass his message. What a great pity!
Now, while Ugochinyere and PDP rushed almost immediately to point accusing fingers at the government, Sam Onwuemeodo believes that officials of the state government, particularly Governor Uzodimma, ought to have shredded their robes in mourning to show empathy, as the father of the state. Because that did not happen, Onwuemeodo says the governor is insensitive, inexperienced, heartless and lacking in empathy. And this is coming from a man whose highest career point is serving as the Chief Press Secretary to a state governor.
Let’s take aside the insults on the person and office of the governor by Onwuemeodo and interrogate the facts of the matter – including the analogy of Rochas visiting Charly Boy when his father died.
Before the unfortunate incident at Akokwa, Ugochinyere claimed that he had earlier escaped a similar attack by gunmen. Indeed, the first thing he did was to accuse the state government of complicity. The matter had not even been investigated. To the best of my knowledge, the alleged attack has not been formally reported to the security agencies. Yet Ugochinyere hastily concluded that it was the state government that was after him. The only “evidence” he presented was an audio recording wherein, according to him, he was threatened by an aide of the governor with whom he had a personal altercation.
Assuming, but not conceding, that the said audio recording is genuine, when has it become a crime for a Nigerian citizen to express his disgust at insults on his person? But if there was not any premeditated motive to rope the state government in, could it not have made sense for Ugochinyere and his cohorts to wait for the police report before rushing to the public with that weighty and self -serving allegation?
And just when Uzodimma was celebrating his third year in office, with Nigerians hailing him for the massive infrastructural revolution he has wrought in the state, the Akokwa attack surfaced to take away the attention from the successes of the administration. Part of the plan is to sustain the evil narrative of a state mired in insecurity. Again, the matter had not even been officially lodged with the security agencies when Ugochinyere and his PDP collaborators flew off the handle to accuse Governor Hope Uzodimma and his administration of culpability and responsibility for the attacks. Under that scenario, what was expected of the governor? To first clear his name or to sympathize with his traducer?
Let us be real and practical here. If a man is attacked by armed robbers and he goes to the market square to accuse his father of being responsible for the attack, what should be the natural reaction of his innocent father? To sympathize with him or to clear his name of the false accusation? That is the issue here.
And as it is clear, in his foolery, Onwuemeodo who now postures as one who has acquired experience as both a governor and statesman, scolded Uzodimma for clearing his name. He went further to give the governor elementary lessons in governance and ethics by faulting the way he talked and reacted to the incident. To Onwuemeodo’s warped logic, Uzodimma, as a father of all, ought to have first sympathized with Ugochinyere, even when he stands falsely accused before the public.
Yes, you sympathize with a son who acknowledges you as his father. You sympathize with even a prodigal child who comes to his senses and apologizes for his gross misdeeds. You welcome a repented son home and show him love, not a heady one, not a chronic hallucinator, who relentlessly accuses the said father of plotting his downfall. That is the crux of the matter
Both the PDP and Onwuemeodo, as advocates for Ugochinyere, wanted the governor to have stopped the attacks. If their minds were not obfuscated by hatred, if they had taken time to assimilate and analyze the governor’s response, they would have allowed their befuddled brains to comprehend the fact that Uzodimma said the attack was as a result of disagreement among friends. Because they are not privy to the quantum of security reports available to the governor, they would never understand that what happened was a reaction to a breached agreement – the consequence of an action. What would have been the business of Uzodimma in meddling with their agreement? Every adult is responsible for his actions or inactions.
At any rate, the Government has since urged the security agencies to do their job and to avail Imo people and indeed all Nigerians of their findings.
Now, to the asinine analogy of Rochas visiting Charly Boy when his father died. What Okorocha did was expected of the sitting governor then. Justice Chukwudifu Oputa, apart from being a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, was also a former Chief Judge of the Imo State. Protocol demanded he should be accorded a state burial irrespective of the personal feelings of the sitting Governor. So what Rochas did was for the senior Oputa, and not the son. I presumed that, since Onwuemeodo claims versatility in the art of governance and diplomacy, he ought to have known the difference.
He also ought to know that it is illogical to assume that Uzodimma or any member of his administration is enjoying the spate of insecurity unleashed on the state by desperate and failed politicians who know themselves. It is inconceivable to even suggest as Onwuemeodo did that Uzodimma is using insecurity as a step towards achieving a second tenure. That is insane. And that is a wicked propaganda against an innocent man who has been in politics for 40 years and who has never been linked with any iota of violence. How then can he use the blood of Imo people as a stepping stone for power? What kind of power? This could be the strategy employed by Onwuemeodo and his master under their disastrous era. But Uzodimma, as a man of peace, prefers a peaceful state to enhance development and spread the dividends of democracy in the state.
Indeed, with the call by PDP for the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in Imo State as a result of insecurity, we don’t need to look further for the sponsors of insecurity in the state. They had vowed to make the state ungovernable for Uzodimma. Seeing that their devilish plans are not working, they have come out openly to attempt to topple the governor through a state of emergency. But like all their plots, this latest shenanigan will also fail.
That is why Onwuemeodo’s insolent and rambling tirade against the governor will be treated as mere burden of leadership which has to be tolerated. The illogicalities can be dismissed as the ranting of one enslaved to self delusion, who consequently deludes himself into thinking that a bat can ever be classified as an animal. Or that elementary knowledge or and limited regional exposure, can earn someone automatic professorship.
More importantly, the legacies of looting, tyranny, debauchery, nepotism, and institutional paralysis which characterized their reign of terror has rightly occupied cupious inglorious pages of our history books.Those indelible pages of history will continue to haunt the perpetrators.
Now, for the records and in sharp contrast: Uzodimma has achieved in three years what that inglorious government could not achieve in eight years. The difference between the two administrations is like that between day and night. Incidentally, Imo people are enjoying the light of day. Their votes alone, with the grace of God, will determine Uzodimma’s fate, and not the bile of minions who think they can play God with no pedigree to show. As Abraham Lincoln one said, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time”.
•Emelumba is commissioner for information and strategy, Imo State