Rescue Mission for Rochas
The euphoria that greeted the expulsion of Ikedi Ohakim from and the election of Rochas Okorocha to the Douglas House Owerri, Imo State, on May 29, 2011, has quickly fizzled out. Replaced with bewilderment, astonishment and disbelief emerged, as Imolites watch Rochas self destruct.
I was unable to find any record of any leader that has sunk so precipitously in popularity, in so short a time - Not even by the standards of the dictatorships he appears to mimic!
Rochas can only blame himself, because he came into office with a tremendous amount of goodwill - which is rare in today's Nigeria's political space. His problem is that he has failed to recognize when campaigning stopped and actual governing started. If he had known the difference between those two exercises, he would have selected his advisers with effective governance in mind. They, in turn, would have advised him on how better to handle the bungled issues of the 10,000 jobs he panned; the firing of the 'elected' local government chairmen; his brazen interference with management of educational, town unions and traditional rulers' institutions; the obsession with battling the legacy of Ohakim; the ill-conceived appointment of his minions 'otimkpus' (Praise Singers) as advisers for everything that exists; assigning key commissionership position to his fugitive Deputy Governor; taking delight in delaying payment of wages; and ignoring the decaying infrastructures, high unemplyment and capping all with the abuse of due process. The list goes on.
There is a saying that, 'you never know what you have until you lose it', but I never believed it would ever apply to Ohakim (at least not this soon), but Rochas has managed to prove me wrong. His actions and inactions have started to make Ohakim look quite good to Imolites, who now express nostalgia for Ohakim's tenure. A case is in point is the appearance of Owerri. Why would Rochas allow Owerri, the seat of government, to deteriorate so quickly? At some point, during Ohakim's reign, most of us took it for granted that Owerri was clean, and failed to give enough credit to whom it was due. Thanks to Rochas we now know it actually took efforts by Ohakim's administration to keep Owerri relatively clean. Rochas, unintentionally, is succeeding in rehabilitating Ohakim's image, a feat Ohakim was unable to accomplish for himself during his 4 years in office.
Imolites seem to be saying mea culpa with their massive pageant-like turn out, to welcome Prof. (Mrs.) Viola Onwuliri (Ohakim's running mate during the 2011 gubernatorial election), as the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, as well as Ohakim, during their recent separate visits to Imo State, respectively.
Rochas' performance so far can be summarized as 'visible with little substance'. He appears to be way out of his league and needs a rescue mission already. As an Imolite interested in the welfare of Imo State, my advise would be, 'strike the rod while still hot!', focus on collaborative and not confrontational initiatives. Time is running, there is no second chance for a good first impression.
Prof. Edward Oparaoji
Chairman, Eastern Mandate Union- Abroad &
Solon Institute, Washington DC, USA