Recently, Governor Rochas Okorocha announced to Imolites that he would like his Chief of Staff, Ugwumba Uche Nwosu, to succeed him. Not only that, the governor presented his deputy, Prince Eze Madumere, to go to the Senate to represent the people of Imo East Senatorial District, while himself would go to the Red Chamber to represent the Imo West Senatorial zone.
This is probably the first time in Imo that a sitting governor is making concerted efforts to ensure that his party retains power obviously for the citizens to continue to reap from the benefits of continuity in government.
For me, the Okorocha attempt is akin to the Lagos State example, where Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu produced Babatunde Fashola, who, in turn, produced Ambode Akinwunmi under one political party and the successors being those who had undergone tutelage under him. The trend ensured that legacy projects embarked upon by Asiwaju Tinubu were not abandoned by his successors and, today, Lagos State is better off for it.
The same would have been the situation in our own dear state, Imo, if after the exit of the late Dee Sam Mbakwe genuine efforts were made to sustain and upgrade his development strides. Yes, Mbakwe was succeeded by military rulers, but upon return to civilian rule in 1999, Chief Achike Udenwa, who came to govern Imo under the PDP, could not put down any succession plan, which made his party to lose to the People’s Progressive Alliance (PPA) under Chief Ikedi Ohakim.
We all saw how the four years of Ohakim ended. All his beautiful ideas were mere hype and Imo people did not see any action. Our people kept on remembering only the Mbakwe legacies, such as the Concorde Hotel, Resin & Paints, Mbaise, and Paper Packaging, Owerre-Ebiri, among others, as new projects didn’t spring up to take over what Mbakwe left. Even the Mbakwe legacies were allowed to decay
Therefore, when Owelle Rochas Okorocha, in 2011, told us that he was coming on a Rescue Mission, we actually saw the need for it. Today, we have seen that his Rescue Mission has actually worked, as Okorocha has not only revived the hitherto comatose legacy projects of Mbakwe, but has also gone ahead to create a new Imo, putting it in close competition with other mega cities, like Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory.
We in Imo are still wondering how Okorocha was able to resolve the intractable gridlock the Owerri metropolis was known for as it then usually took an upward of three hours to navigate through the Douglas, Bank and Wedethral roads. This headache, Okorocha was able to end through his many inland roads and tunnels.
Besides urban renewal, he created new cities by upgrading Orlu and Okigwe zones, which we used to sing with in the past that all towns have developed except the two. Also, his free education is equal to none, just like his 27 general hospitals in 27 LGAs, some of them now operated by the security agencies.
Therefore, I think our people should look beyond sentiments to accept the Okorocha idea that our gains should not be lost, like in the Dee Sam Mbakwe era. Let him give us a successor, whether it is his son-in-law or not. I think what we should be concerned with in his anointing Ugwumba Uche Nwosu as his possible successor is to cross-check if the young man possesses the qualities Okorocha saw to select him.
Indeed, the governor, in his reasons for his choice, had said: “Uche Nwosu is hard-working, and never gets tired. He is a very humble young man. Not proud. Not arrogant. So, power won’t enter his head. In spite of the position he occupies, you can’t see him quarreling with anybody or maltreating anybody. He does not segregate against anybody, whether from Orlu or Owerri or Okigwe zone. He relates with people enviously. I have checked him in and out; I have not found him wanting.
“What the state wants is Imo governor and not Owerri Zone or Orlu Zone or Okigwe Zone governor. Zoning does not put food on the table of anybody. The young man is a team player, who does not use his office to molest anybody. He has the qualities of a good leader. If he says he will run for governor, I will support him.
“Obviously, it might be as a result of these qualities that most people are talking about Uche Nwosu for governor everywhere, even when he has not declared for the governorship. It might also be the reason for the endorsements he is getting from all quarters. You see, you don’t hide a good product. And the joy of every leader is to have a worthy successor. You don’t mind political opportunists. We have done very well as a government and we should be concerned about what happens to the achievements after.
“I am not from Owerri Zone, but my administration has done more projects in Owerri zone and Owerri Municipal in particular more than the administrations before me had done put together. We need Imo governor and not a zonal governor. I have done in Okigwe Zone what the man from the zone could not do for them. The records are there.”
We know that Okorocha’s deputy, Madumere, has been his associate for a very long time, but Nwosu has been directly involved in the governance of Imo State that he very much fits into the succession portfolio.
Nwosu started as the Personal Assistant to the president of Rochas Foundation, later Deputy Chief of Staff to the founder of Rochas Foundation and much later Personal Assistant to the Special Adviser on Inter-Party Relations to the President and Commander-In-Chief.
Nwosu, who has robust experience in real estate, aviation, consultancy and human management, in June 2011, was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff (Operations) by Governor Okorocha and later the Commissioner for Lands, Survey, and Urban Planning, from where he was elevated the Chief of Staff, Imo State Government, in June, 2015, a position he occupies till date.
I, therefore, believe that Okorocha’s succession plan will go a long way in ensuring that the Rescue Mission gains will be jealously guarded under his apostle who knows the inner workings of the maverick governor.
What Nwosu needs to do is to add finesse to Okorocha’s efforts and move Imo to the next level of league of mega states in the world.
Nwosu has the youthful disposition and large following of Imo youths. The onus will then be on him to correct the errors of Okorocha, who many controversies have dogged during his administration as he breaks some eggs in his efforts to make an omelet.
• Ogaram, a public affairs analyst, writes from Owerri.