Imo and Ogun states share similar characteristics as the two states former governors fell out with their party, the All Progressives Congress APC in the choice of governorship candidates in the last elections. They also compare as states where anointed governorship candidates of the two former governors, Rochas Okorocha and Ibikunle Amosun pursued their ambitions through the platforms of alternative political parties following the refusal of their party leadership to give them tickets. The two states equally stand to be evaluated in terms of the final outcome of the decision of the former governors to sponsor their preferred candidates through other party platforms in utter defiance of their political party.
It is now a settled matter that the preferred candidates of Okorocha and Amosun lost out in those elections. But whereas the candidate of the APC Dapo Abiodun still won the election in Ogun state, neither the candidate of the APC nor that of Okorocha was successful in Imo. Rather, Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP emerged victorious. In this respect, the two states share some uncanny similarities and dissimilarities.
Events after that election have tended to portray Okorocha and Amosun as two of a disillusioned lot. It is not clear why they are so embittered by the loss, their suspension by their party for alleged anti-party activities notwithstanding. But their deportment may not be unconnected with what some political analysts dubbed failure to realize a third term bid through other means. Even as some are inclined to view this theory as rather speculative and uncharitable, its potency is given more fillip by the rash and desperate decisions and policy pronouncements by the two since after that loss.
Both stood out in the number of appointments, promotions and other key policy decisions they have made thereafter. They also struck a common chord in their refusal or reluctance to have the new regimes take off unencumbered. It is little surprising that the statutory transition and handover ceremonies in the two states were entangled in an avoidable web of controversy.
In the case of Ogun state, a day before the swearing in ceremony of the new governor and his deputy, the Secretary to the State Government handed over documents containing details of the state of affairs to the deputy-governor elect Mrs Noimot Salako-Oyedele. The document included a handover note, financial statement; the last audited report of the state as at December 31, 2018 and a report on the Homeowners’ charter. Amosun did not physically present the handover note to his successor who did not equally turn up apparently privy to prior information that his predecessor would not perform that statutory ritual in person. But the handover note and other relevant documents were still made available to the incoming administration in a formal ceremony. At least, they will find some vital documents to work with.
But the case of Imo rather presents a very curious scenario. The new governor, Emeka Ihedioha has complained publicly that his predecessor did not handover to him. He has consequently ordered the principal secretary to former governor Okorocha and the Head of the state Civil Service to prepare a proper a handover document of all government properties before the midnight of June 4, 2019. The governor lamented there was no document detailing the financial status of the state and this was hampering his efforts to hit the ground running as promised in his inaugural speech. But he was quick to reassure the people of the state that he will not give excuses as he would start work immediately. Some apologists of the Okorocha regime have come out with pictorials of documents in the social media purporting them to be handover documents prepared by the former regime. But they failed to show how and when the touted documents were handed over to any official of the incoming regime.
For those conversant with events since after the last elections, the posturing of the former governor should not come as a surprise. Not only did he refuse to congratulate Ihedioha on his victory, Okorocha found it difficult to come to terms with the reality of the victory. He had behaved as one expecting something extraordinary or magical to reverse the outcome of the election. The reason he found himself in such quandary is not difficult to fathom. Before the elections, he had conducted himself such that he never gave room to the reality that the polls could go either way. Apparently wallowing in a false sense of accomplishment and the enormous state resources at his disposal, he saw the election as a foregone conclusion. He was so prepared both conventionally and unconventionally that he was blinded by the illusion that victory was just for his anointed one to grab. But all that turned awry.
With that mindset, it was not surprising he found it difficult to come to terms with the reality of the election outcome. Soon, it began to increasingly dawn on him that he must face the reality of that election. Apparently, he left many things undone in the hope that when his son-in law emerges, he would still remote control affairs. But when the reality to the contrary dawned on him, he began to initiate actions in several fronts to strew thorns on the part of the new administration.
He moved quickly to constitute the boards of parastatals and commissions just a few weeks to his departure. This was followed by a bazaar of appointments, promotions and recruitments into critical positions in the public service. Not done yet, he shocked not a few when he announced the establishment of six new universities; four polytechnics and two collages of education in one fell swoop. Those conversant with the financial difficulties Imo state university has been encountering in his hands saw the announcement as a tall order; a deception of some sorts and outright impossibility given all that it takes to float a single university. As events were to unfold, it did not take long before the same dramatist reversed himself.
As if these were not enough landmines for the in-coming government, Okorocha displayed an uncommon disdain to facilitating the smooth inauguration and handover ceremony of his successor. Though he reluctantly and belatedly set up a 25-man committee to interface with the 31-member committee inaugurated by the then governor-elect, his body language was far from one genuinely committed to a seamless handover.
It was only a matter of time for the bubble to burst. The 31 man committee soon discovered that Okorocha was playing with time and not seriously committed to a successful handover ceremony. In a press statement then, the 31 member committee chronicled all their efforts to secure the cooperation of the state government but regretted that they were being less than honest in their commitments to the programme. But the same government was later to sell a dummy through some of their paid writers in the social media that Okorocha’s government did release a phony N150 million for the inauguration ceremony.
Omeihe writes from Owerri