THIS intervention was made sometime in 2016. It is an indispensable template for the messianic Governor-elect of Imo State, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, hence the encore.
Penultimate Thursday I discussed with a colleague of mine based in Enugu over his earlier reportage on Imo State. After lengthy elucidations and exchange of professional banter on the activities of the governor, Rochas Anayo Okorocha of the APC, his eccentric leadership style and allied good governance issues, I did an opinion article last Monday entitled “Rochas: Misperceived and demonized.” From the multi-media responses I got, I knew, for the first and last time in my over-three-decade quintessential journalism, that I had been misled by a colleague of mine! This has confirmed professorial admonitions I had received in my profound communications scholarship that I should never depend on secondary sources for critical information. I had largely taken a laudatory standpoint last week that bordered on unmerited and misinformed eulogy for maverick Rochas. Following the copious feedback I got last Monday, I was so livid that I had to travel to Owerri pronto to see things for myself. At the end of my four-day visit, I was embarrassed and scandalized by what I saw and heard.
Some of my audiences said inconsistent Rochas did fairly well in his first term, but that the second tenure has been characterized by cluelessness, haughtiness, indifference and gross irresponsibility. The people are so despondent, disenchanted and disillusioned that they wish 2019 was tomorrow. Most Imolites who spoke with me dream of the possibility of having a divine intervention that could end the Okorocha maladministration today! Bitterness and regret over the opportunistic emergence of Rochas symbolize their rage.
Again, for the first time in my robust career as a developmental journalist, I am compelled to retract the undeserved encomiums I lavishly and inadvertently poured on Rochas. As I apologize to those offended by my unwarranted celebration of Rochas, I responsibly declare that Rochas is the worst governor Imo State has ever had for reasons adduced presently. Hopefully, there would be no accident of another chimerical Rochas at the helm in 2019.
I unequivocally assert that Rochas is in no way misperceived and demonized. The perception is an incontrovertible reflection of his weirdness and affirmatively not demonized. In fact, what I was hoodwinked about his aloof government is a microcosm of his incompetency and uncompleted projects mania like a possessed bloke.
Indeed, taking his two immediate predecessors, Achike Udenwa and Ikedi Ohakim, into reckoning, Rochas pales into disastrous insignificance, comparatively. I never believed any governor could be as bad as Theodore Ahamefule Orji of Abia State of yore—the only former governor who recklessly and stupidly stopped President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) from campaigning in Umuahia township stadium shortly before the last presidential election and also desecrated royalty by dealing with the traditional ruler who defiantly gave PMB a chieftaincy title during the aborted electioneering. Even journalists who covered Buhari’s campaign were endlessly harassed while those who reported APC activities in Abia were brutalized by Ochendo. PMB never forgives nor forgets! At the fullness of time, T.A. Orji will inevitably get his Dasuki treatment from PMB.
Going by Okorocha’s boyishness, political harlotry (needless serial defections) and other utopian democratic antecedents, I can reasonably affirm that he is one of the vanishing Igbo political stalwarts whose charlatanistic pedigree, utter disregard for people’s feelings and nonchalance to credible governance underscore South East retrogression and neglect by the APC central government because of the region’s unflinchingly inexplicable loyalty to the thievish and dubious PDP of yesteryear!
On arrival at Owerri, I went to the Federal Medical Centre where I saw not less than 2000 outpatients waiting for attention. One of the tragedies of Rochas is the curious attempt by him to build ill-conceived 27 uncompleted general hospitals across the state all of which are not functional (and will never be completed going by the governor’s reputational notoriety for abandonment of wild-cat projects) hence the swamping of the FMC. Three efficient and effective government hospitals in the senatorial headquarters and a few well-stocked clinics in the remote areas would have touched copious lives.
The cab driver took me to sites where people’s structures were callously and indiscriminately demolished by Rochas for purported urban renewal. The irony, according to the victims some of whom I interacted with, is that nothing had been done with space from previous structural demolitions. Yet, Rochas goes ahead like a bull in a china shop destroying more and more properties amid executive arrogance and stubbornness arising from absolute power satiety. I stopped over at the Ministry of Justice and some courts in Owerri. They were like graveyards as there was no activity due to unpaid salaries and infrastructural deficiency.
The dismay, I was authoritatively informed, is that Rochas does not care a hoot about the year-long unprecedented degeneracy! I was also in Okigwe where no project had been inaugurated in the past five years. I equally went to Orlu: the roads that were accessible before the misadventure of unstable Rochas have all become craters—almost impassable even for pedestrians! Rochas must realize that constructing all manner of elitist parks, spaces and erection of monuments and comical signposts are of no benefit to most people.
Virtually all the Owerri municipal roads like Wetheral, Bank, Douglas, Egbu, Okigwe, Orlu have been taken over by heaps of refuse. Unlike in the past (MCC, RCC et al), pretentious/dubious/phony road “construction” is being done by nondescript companies that offer poor quality services. The few existing good roads are the ones built by De Sam Mbakwe and military administrators and marginally rehabilitated by Udenwa/Ohakim.
As Rochas carries on, workers’ salaries, pensions, gratuities and other statutory entitlements/allowances are owed minimally for nine months. There is angst in the land – that Imolites are merely existing (not living) in asphyxiating bondage is a fatalistic understatement!
Only two things thrive here: prostitution and kidnapping. This is so because almost all productive engagements, gainful employment, entrepreneurship, industries and investment prospects have collapsed because of poor infrastructure, governmental lethargy and the general (national) APC worsening leadership. If the APC and PDP do not respectively lose the two sister-states of Imo and Abia in 2019, I will give up on our redemption. Imo and Abia states have become failed/cursed entities mismanaged by incompetent, roguish and selfish governors in the last decade or thereabouts! In summation, there is no governance in Imo State. Systemic policy summersaults and cavalier administrative idiosyncrasies of Rochas trivialize governance. Only God can redeem Imolites, as mercurial Rochas urgently needs atonement and spiritual deliverance for his crimes against humanity!
Indeed, to fully capture the Imo rot, decadence, hardship-cum-the governor’s callousness and needless cruelty requires volumes upon volumes!
Hypercritics of the governor allege that his loyalty lies in the North, while his propagandistic supporters make a bedlam of his marginal free education scheme and ornamental street lighting!