Kingsley Ononuju is the former Special Adviser to former Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State on Investment Promotion. He describes Okorocha’s reign as a disastrous one, saying Governor Emeka Ihedioha can only be taken seriously by the people of Imo if he probes the immediate past government.
Former Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State has been criticised for his unorthodox method of governance by some people, as one of his appointees how best can you describe your former boss?
Let me state that he has tried his best, played his part and whether good or bad, it is left for posterity to judge. However, I will add that he is a greedy and selfish man, who does not like to work with smart and intelligent people. He loves mediocrity and equally loves working with mediocre, whom he can pocket and manipulate easily. He is an enemy of constructive criticism. What you refer to as unorthodox method of governance is just mediocrity. He is a straightforward thinker, proud and dangerously nepotistic. There are four cardinal principles of good governance, namely: political governance, corporate governance, economic governance and socio-economic development, which incorporate the rule of law and due process. Okorocha never believed in good governance. He disobeyed court orders and did his best to pocket and stifle the legislative arm of government in Imo State. His so-called unorthodox style is an unsystematic violation of good governance, due process and the rule of law. I insist that such was a terrible setback for Imo State.
Now that power has changed hand in the state, what are your expectations from Governor Emeka Ihedioha?
Indeed, expectations are high especially regarding the kind of ruin Imo was plunged into for the past eight years. I will not want to judge the new governor based on his performance and achievements as a ranking legislator and deputy speaker of the House of Representatives. Now that he is the governor of Imo State, it is an entirely different platform and I believe he has what it takes and will do the needful to reposition the bruised and brutalised state and put its citizens on the path of progress, prosperity and sustainable development. It is a huge task because the damage done to the state is immense and outrageous. Having said that, I will advise him, to ensure that he assembles the best that Imo can afford in terms qualified, skilled and competent manpower for optimum results, and he should also draw up an economic development blueprint that is sustainable and practicable. He should equally have a guiding agenda which could come as 3-point Agenda or more and he should focus on the total implementation of such. I advise him to be smart in the choice of his cabinet and executive council members, because the quality of his team will make or break his administration.
You served Okorocha, why did you abandon him to join the Imo Restoration Coalition?
We were all alive and witnesses to the insidious metamorphosis of Okorocha from a populist and popular governor to a maximum despot. On several occasions, I and other concerned Imo citizens who were part of his disastrous government at a time, having joined initially because he came with what now looked like corrupted good intentions, warned him against the dangerous slide into mediocrity and repugnant nepotism. But he turned a deaf ear to our wise counseling. After many failed attempts to call him to order coupled with the futile effort to impose his son-in-law on Imo people, we resisted that and some of us left him and join the Restoration Coalition. I am glad to be part of it and so proud I did. Apart from that, I am the chairman of APC Disciplinary Committee and convener of Imo Equity Movement.
But some said you were fired for lack of performance, how do reconcile that with your claim that you left?
That is not true. My acquaintances know the stuff, I am made of. My true nature is success-oriented and I have never failed in any effort in life.
I am Ekwedashike, and a true son of my father. I have zero tolerance for nonsense and you may be aware of the fact that I was once kidnapped to be killed because of my convictions and opposition to a government that turned against the people. As an authority and consultant in the New Partnership For Africa’s Development (NEPAD), involving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which later turned to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), I brought my experience to bear with a clear economic development blueprint which was ignored. That was why no multinational corporation came to Imo State in eight years and direct foreign investment was non-existent. In a nutshell, what transpired is that no matter what you tell someone with a fixated mindset, it will come to nothing. I am a harbinger of lucid and intelligent ideas but when you give it to someone with a stereotyped mindset, it amounts to nothing. I am a senior lawyer who believes in good governance and I tried my best to put Okorocha on the right track but he was not ready to listen and work with sound political and economic principles, so I had to quit. Nobody fired me. I left voluntarily.
Do you support the call for Okorocha’s probe?
If the new governor finds it necessary to probe the maximum ruler, Okorocha and his administration, let him go ahead. The entire Imo citizens, who are victims of his misrule, are looking forward to that. In fact, to me, probing Okorocha will make Imo people take Governor Ihedioha serious and by so doing he can wipe their tears away. So it is a right step in the right direction.
Many believed that APC lost Imo governorship because Okorocha did not support the project. Is that correct?
I do not quite agree with that. Yes, Okorocha’s anti-party activities might have affected the fortunes of the APC in that election but it was not all that went wrong. There were also massive rigging and vote buying by the other contestants, which the APC candidate never engaged in. Okorocha clearly sabotaged the APC by the unholy alliance with the Action Alliance (AA). He engaged people as APC agents, who actually worked for AA. I should say that Okorocha was not successful because he has no successor. Distinguished Senator Hope Uzodinma, who is a fine and humble gentleman that takes advice and loved by Imo people would have been a wonderful leader of the APC in the entire South East and in the process make the party very formidable in the zone if he had won the governorship election. Well, the matter is already in court, as such, I will make no further comment on that.
Okorocha’s travail has been attributed to his 2023 presidential ambition, how true?
It is laughable, seeing people making unsubstantiated remarks, unreasonable allusions and analogies. Okorocha is the architect of his own travails and that should not be linked to Bola Tinubu or industrious and dedicated Adams Oshiomhole, who is doing his best to ensure that the APC remains the leading party in Nigeria. Okorocha should bear his cross alone and stop trying to make himself politically relevant by looking for scapegoats where there is none.