This column is back after going on AWOL for a couple of months. For those fans, who called or sent text messages, asking what was amiss, many thanks; the column was rebranding and has moved from Sunday. By God’s grace, we promise to keep a robust date with you, every Monday.
It was in 1965 that venerable Prof Ola Rotimi, one of Nigeria’s iconic (not iconoclastic) dramatists, wrote the epic drama, entitled: Our Husband Has Gone Mad Again.
That is the source of this headline, which does not mean, in any way, that my governor, my governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, has gone mad. If anything, Okorocha remains a very sound and smart, perhaps, too smart, governor in the present dispensation. However, it points to the fact that Okorocha’s brand of governance tends to be farcical and hilarious. It also exposes how much harm politics does to otherwise good guys, who cannot but be sucked in by its evil concomitance.
In Rotimi’s book, a certain husband, went into politics unprepared, not goaded by any altruistic reason but by the desire to massage his ego. Meanwhile, he was a marital fraudster, having married two wives in Nigeria before going abroad to marry oyibo, without letting the wives know their polygamous dalliance. Of course, he had been a successful businessman, who caved in to the lure of politics that now exposed him not only as a misfit but also a marital failure.
Like Rotimi’s Mr. Husband, Okorocha had been a nice guy businessman philanthropist though people now say it was all a ruse; a bait for future endeavour like his present vocation. Well, Okorocha has nobody but himself and his duplicitous marriage to Imo people to blame for whatever interpretations people now make of his past godly deeds.
However, what is trending now is that the mulit-party traversed Okorocha mistook politics for a circus show. He could be likened to my oga on top, who insisted on presiding over Nigeria a second time that he glued to the presidential contest as if his life depended on it. Somehow, he got to Aso Rock only to be blaming his predecessor for even his wife’s failure to warm the soup more than a year after, leaving the citizenry flustered, hungry and flabbergasted.
Although not a political scientist, Okorocha has redefined political theorems and practice. Okorocha has innovated a moribund fourth-tier of government. Okorocha has successfully turned the state House of Assembly into an appendage of the very executive it is meant to oversight by employing the legislators as supervisors of local council areas. Okorocha set a record when he started construction of 27 general hospitals, one for each of the local government areas in the state, in one fell swoop but completing none after many years, yet leaving the entire health sector comatose and derelict. Okorocha privatised (some say auctioned) state parastatals to the consternation of mortified indigenes. Old pensioners are dying on famished queues; workers shamble the scorched earth, timorously, protesting salaries owed for several months by an imperious, government high on vaulting cronysm and nepotism.
Now my governor, my governor, ever highly voluble and self-assured in elocution, is at it again. Against all international labour laws and the Nigerian constitution, Okorocha has decreed a three-day workweek for civil servants in the state.
According to him, some categories of the state civil servants should work for three days a week and use the remaining two days to farm or hustle for what to augment their salaries with. So bland, absurd and inept, isn’t it?
Okorocha wants Imolites to go to farm but he has provided neither land nor tools. If he so much valued agriculture, why did he give away money-minting Adapalm? Meanwhile Ehime Mbano people are still waiting for him to explain the whereabouts of the equipment his administration carted away from Nsu Tiles or make good his dubious promise to revamp the industry.
Like Ishmael, Okorocha is up in arms against everybody and everybody is up in arms against the governor because of his many vexatious decisions. His urban renewal project, which has resulted in massive demolitions of structures without even scant consideration of payment of compensations to victims, is ill conceived and blatant affront on sensibilities.
However, his decision to relocate the Eke Ukwu Owerri market is understandable except that those condemning him claim there are wily plans to appropriate the place to self and cronies. That is yet to be proved though but the market can no longer continue on its present location, right in the centre of state capital.
Having said that, Okorocha should exercise restraint in the ongoing demolition exercise in and around Owerri. People are yet to see the benefits of several structures demolished long ago for some projects that are yet to see the light of day. It would make more sense if the governor first put the old demolitions to good use before embarking on further inflicting pain on the people. In fact, since the berthing of his government, Okorocha has created problems for many communities, which are now reeling under pervasive erosion that was never there until his administration dug them up for wonky road construction.
Of course, I know his attack dogs would yelp for my blood as usual. The governor must know though that every constructive criticism is to make him better. Unfortunately, the problem of Governor Okorocha is that dubious cheerleaders, who are too afraid to tell him the truth because of fear of losing their meal tickets, surround him, so they egg him on no matter what. The governor should not see critics as enemies.
Knowing how detestable the All Progressives Congress, APC, is in the east because of its palpable hatred for the Igbo, Okorocha, being the only APC governor east of the Niger, should have been a signpost of good governance; he should have been exemplary and an advertisement for his party. Alas, people are yet to see what he has been able to attract to his people or do himself, even though he chairs the APC Governors Forum.
Now, the question on many lips is: When shall this ‘change government’ find balance at both centre and the states? Beautifying roundabouts and erecting billboards (even if with Barack Obama) is not what Okorocha was sent to Douglas House to do. The people are bemused and distressed, wondering what hit them and cannot wait anymore for 2019 to come today to procure a divorce from this marriage build on slippery sand.