“Okorocha holds the record of the fastest friend maker in the Nigeria political scene, but… also holds the record of the fastest friend loser.”
Dr Theodore Ekechi, convener of the coalition group and former Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Imo State said he left Governor Rochas Okorocha’s administration because he was tired of covering up the government’s lies.
The former director, Election Planning for Muhammadu Buhari Presidential Campaign Council in 2015 recalled how he tried to call the governor to order after exiting the government, but regretted that the more he tried, the worse Okorocha became in his antipeople policies.
Why did you exit Governor Okoroocha’s government?
Let me put on record that I did not exit Okorocha’s administration as commissioner because I had any dispute with him. I exited because in 2014 I had intention of contesting election and as tradition demands, those of us who were interested in vying for elective position had to resign within the stipulated time. So, after leaving I had refused to come back to the rescue mission administration and I’m bold to say that I refused to come back not because I didn’t want, but because I did not feel comfortable coming back. Those who have noble ideas and have the love and interest of the state and the country at heart were threatened. I discovered that those lofty ideas were speedily being eroded in such ways that suggest that the man who claimed that he came to rescue Imo does not have good intention in the first place.
We saw that there was a calculated plan to entrench Okorocha and his immediate family in the government, including anybody who is willing to kowtow to him and act within his whims and caprices. These are the people the governor is willing to entrench in the Nigeria political space. We saw that most of the actions of the governor were anti-people. There was a clandestine move to phases out particular category of politicians in the state and then entrench a particular type of politicians using the recent phrase, ‘making slaves masters and making masters slaves’ with the conviction on his own part that when you make slaves masters, you have them under your remote control and when you make masters slaves, you annihilate any opposition that may come from them. Some of us were not comfortable with that not because of political expediency, but also because of consistency in the way we were brought up, where our character and our conscience matter. We feared that so much would happen not to only to us but to our children. It got to a point we thought, enough was enough.
Recently, Okorocha accused some governors and the coalition group in Imo State of attacking him in order to frustrate his presidential ambition in 2023, in fact he mentioned Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu of being the brain behind his ordeal. Is Okorocha a threat to those who want to contest in 2023?
No. let me start by putting it this way; I hope that I will make sense. Those who ride on the back of tigers to achieve victory or to get to a particular destination, when they get to the destination the tiger naturally will turn back and consume them. Those who must kill in to live will have death waiting for them at the door. Also, those who kill with the machete will die by the machete. It is truism. In the cause of climbing the ladder, Okorocha stepped on many toes. The governor blackmailed so many people, he told and still telling lies. Somebody knew that public funds have been stolen and the people have formed an opinion of who Okorocha really is.
Politics is not a short race; politics is a long term race. It is not 400 meters and you stop. You can use all your energy and you will be declared the winner, but when you are doing a long distance race, you required extra energy, character and stamina. If you don’t have the stamina to withstand long distance political race, when the breeze blow, you will discover that Reverend Father after all is wearing trouser. So, Okorocha’s actions have not been able to state his credibility in the minds of other people. He exposes himself for who he is and people who are his friends will discover that he is a dangerous friend to keep. That is why in one of my releases, I said Okorocha holds the record of the fastest friend maker in the Nigeria political scene, but on the flipside, the same Okorocha also holds the record of the fastest friend loser. He loses friends as fast as he makes friends because he woos you with a smile and sweet smooth talking capacity and ability and promises that are out of the world. I mean make believe promises, but by the time you realise that the promises are not fulfilled and his heart is not as pure like the teeth and smile on his face, you regret meeting Okorocha.
So, when you see what happened to those who have been dinning and winning with Okorocha, nobody will tell you to run for your life. So, it has nothing to do with 2023. He worked together with Tinubu to ensure Adams Oshiomhole emerged National Chairman of APC. The question is, after working with Tinubu, did Okorocha ensure that they keep their secret? Did he work hard to ensure he had his own fair share of the deal? Tinubu had his own share? But trust Okorocha, he tried to turn Oshiomhole from a master he is into a slave he wanted him to be. These are some of the natural things the governor does that have natural consequences. Why will he be the one talking of 2023 now? What will happen to the party if we lose in 2019?
Most of the members of the coalition who wanted to be governor are now seeking to be governor on different political platforms. Has the coalition collapsed?
I will start by giving you the history of how the coalition was formed in Imo so that you will now appreciate whether there is a crack in the group or not. I’m proud to say that I’m the convener of the coalition. The coalition was convened on March 12, 2018 in my country home in Imerienwe and after deliberation, the 25 members who were about 80 percent appointees of the governor met and deliberated over the affairs in Imo and we made a declaration that if we don’t do something, a time will come when people will say there are no more men in the state when Okorocha reigned. The declaration is what is known as ‘Imerienwe declaration’, where we condemned him and sounded a note of warning to him that there was going to be a beginning and end to Okorocha impunity in the state. From 25, our membership continued to increase after every other meeting until we got to the level when the likes of Sen. Uwajumogu, Sen. Arararume, and Sen. Osita Izunaso, the deputy governor, the party chairman and others all joined. We came out with the truth and the coalition consolidated.
It is natural that people who have joined us have other personal interests. I want to assure you that all founding members of the group were men and women who have no other agenda, but that impunity must stop in Imo State. So, that core group is intact. Most of them who joined did so to reclaim Imo from Okorocha. So, over time, as the coalition gathered momentum, we increased in number. Arararume left the coalition because Oshiomhole who was seen as a man, who was committed, gave the party wholesale to Okorocha. Izunaso left also because he was badly treated by forces that ganged up against him championed by the same Rochas Okorocha to deny him a victory at the national convention as the National Organising Secretary of APC. But, in spirit we are together with one common goal irrespective of our personal ambition. That common agenda is that any other person can rule Imo State, but not Okorocha’s son-in-law or any of his appointees.
In your assessment, will Sen. Hope Uzodima make it?
Before I answer the question of the propriety of Sen. Hope Uzodima as governorship candidate of APC in Imo State or the morality of Hope emerging as my party candidate, let me first of all address Okorocha’s sin. He, who comes to equity, must come with clean hands.
In 2011, Okorocha was a top member of PDP; both at the state and national levels, but just few months to the general elections, Okorocha switched to APGA and snatched APGA’s ticket which eventually made him to be the governor. Not too long ago, as soon as the governor realised that his son in-law has lost the ticket of APC, Okorocha first of all went back to APGA, but there was no way. He went to PDP, they rejected him and he went to two other parties and they also rejected him. Finally, he secured ticket for his son in-law in Action Alliance (AA). This is a party he rejected before and abandoned.
For somebody with such history, who had benefitted so much from members of other political parties and won elections, what moral justification has he to question Hope? The case of Hope is nothing compared with that of the governor. Hope had joined APC and worked for the party for more than seven to eight months before he declared interest to contest for governorship. While Okorocha joined APGA less than three months before election and now less than two months to election he joined AA. When he came to PDP he did not come as a foundation member, so also was other parties also. He doesn’t have the moral right to question Hope joining APC and being its governorship candidate. It is not the intention of most of us including myself not to fly the flag of APC, but it turned out that Hope won through his own calculations. Hope did not win the primary with state government money; he did not win the primary by coaxing anybody in the state or by using state authority of a presiding governor or by using federal might from Abuja. Don’t forget that the man who is the National Organising Secretary of the party is a proxy of Okorocha. So, in spite of these obstacles, we got to a point where the result is either Hope or Uche Nwosu. It was natural in the circumstance that we stood against Uche Nwosu.
I foresee a situation where some of the candidates will ask their supporters to vote a particular candidate irrespective of political party by way of adoption to ensure that we don’t filter our votes by splitting the votes and allowing Uche Nwosu to having anything close to becoming governor. Should such arise, Imo people will go against Okorocha because it is Okorocha versus the people.