By Chidi Obineche
in Nineteen Eighty Four, often written as 1984, a dystopian novel published in 1949 by English author George Orwell, there is a surfeit of classic “negative utopia”, a firmament of a startlingly original and haunting make- belief world that on the surface pretends to be completely convincing and real, but underneath, is escapist and can make one to snore. Set in Oceania which is perpetually at war with itself, the crucial plot points converge on omnipresent government surveillance, manipulations, pedantry and the trivia. By distorting Utopia, Orwell with each horror that takes place depicts the price humankind pays for straining for “perfect “ societies, warning that the kind of future presented in the work should never come to pass. And so the protagonist, Winston Smith begins to think about the Ministry of Peace which wages war; The Ministry of Plenty, which plans economic shortages; and the dreaded Ministry of Love, the hub of the inner party’s loathsome activities.
Corresponding events in Imo State on the watch of the inimitable Governor Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha suggest that the unrelieved quantum of trivia and distraction may have caught the bug of easily irrecoverable moments. A kind of epic scenes in Disney land. From the fringy Community Government initiative, the self- admissible unconventional approach to governance, the snarly relationship with a cross section of the citizens, the feisty commitment to birthday binges, to the mammoth erections that celebrate the state as moniker for statues, the effect is a frightening horror, a deepening impulse peppered with fantasy. And this is without sparking a thought yet for Christopher Langan’s cool words to the effect that “To have a high IQ, you tend to specialize, think deep thoughts, you avoid trivia”. This week, the governor re-enacted episodes in 1984 by creating a Ministry of Happiness and Purpose Fulfillment and the nation is afire. Trivia can put one on a high horse, completely inebriated. It can alter vision and focus, it can redesign bonds and calibrate flames. Sometimes it creates a good laugh, embarrassment and a long sleep.
By Jove, the governor is a happy and purpose fulfilled man, and as a leader there is a compulsion to let it careen down to the subjects. And this is without recourse to the fact that folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be. The bogey of happiness, the implicitness in carving out a full fledged ministry for it has placed a burden of reinvention. Happiness is the peoples salt lick; it has no price tag, no force or persuasive properties. You are happy because you are tuned to it psychologically, physically and there is sunshine in your soul. The secret of being happy is accepting where you are in life and making the most out of every day. According to Ralph Marslon, “Happiness is a choice, not a result. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy. No person will make you happy unless you decide to be happy. Your happiness will not come to you. It can only come from you.” Happiness and purpose fulfillment are not out there. They are in us. Therein lies the distraction and trivia in Imo State. Therein are the absurdity and comic relief in the Ministry of Happiness. In there is the utopia that the governor strains all the way to hug. Happiness as they say in common parlance is an inside job. There is no path to happiness. Happiness is the path, it is a habit. It is apposite to scream that you must not put your happiness in someone else’s pocket no matter the stamp or grade of approval, the scent and hubris of the self- styled disseminator. Happiness is in us. It is something we are By instituting the pursuit of happiness as state policy, Okorocha is chasing after the rainbow, making a feast of banality. From the ancient great master Aristotle, we learn that “Happiness depends upon ourselves”.
He was born on September 22, 1962 in Ogboko, Ideato South Local Government Area, LGA of Imo state. He was in business before his foray into politics. He won the May 6, 2011 governorship election in Imo State and was reelected for a second term on April 11, 2015.