Imo, Okorocha And The Tale Of Nepotism

There has been much hullabaloo about some recent decisions and activities of the Governor Rochas Okorocha-led administration in Imo state. Daily, individuals and groups derive joy in smearing the administration with obviously subjective arguments on the internet.

The latest of such vituperations was on an alleged manipulation in the appointment of some members of the Bench in the state, following the sack of the state Judicial Service Commission.

Also, following a recent Award of excellent performance presented to some deserving government officials in the recently dissolved State Executive Council, tongues wagged. The governor was accused of turning the state into a family business.

Top among those that received the award were: the governor's son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, former Commissioner for Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Mr. Chinedu Offor, Former Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Ichie Best Mbanaso, Former Commissioner for Commerce.

Others were the Governor's younger sister, Mrs. Ogechi Ololo, former Special Assistant on Domestics, who emerged overall best and Nkiru Sylvanus, former Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs among others.

Since after the Award ceremony, there is nothing that has not been said. Many have accused the governor of converting the Imo state government to an extension of his business empire. Many have condemned the reappointment of his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu and his sister, Ogechi Ololo, among others.

One now asks: Uche Nwosu and Ogechi Ololo, are they qualified to occupy the offices they have been appointed to occupy, by virtue of the laws of our land? If yes, is their relationship with the governor enough to deprive and deny them their fundamental right to state service? Before Uche became the governor's son-in-law, was he not working with the governor, even before Okorocha became governor? Why are the other recipients of the Award not criticized? May be, if for any reason they have any further close relationship with the governor in the future, they will also enter the black book of the opposition. This is not fair. People's rights to freedom of association must be respected.

Nigerians are known to be professional critics, but when the ball gets to their Court, you see them fumbling. In fact, history has shown that the best critics make the worst leaders. If the table is turned, will these critics drive away all their relatives, even from their ancestral homes, in order to be seen as saints?

Some of these critics were part of the immediate past administration in the state where Chief Emmanuel Ohakim, the governor's elder brother served as the Chief of Staff to the governor, chief Ikedi Ohakim and heavens did not fall.

It is unfortunate that Nigerians are yet to learn tolerance and maturity in politics. As long as our favoured candidate is not in power, we do not see anything good in the government of the day. This is indeed, unfair. Today, as long as Okorocha is not the preferred candidate of the opposition, he does not deserve any commendation?

Okorocha has been accused of refusing to pay political appointees their statutory severance allowances. He has been accused of indulging in various grand standing activities at the same time, at the risk of not completing them; even as they allege that he is using incompetent Contractors to execute shoddy jobs in the state, among other unsubstantiated claims. What of the fact that he sacrificed his security vote for the state use?

Does it mean that opposition does not see anything good that this administration has done well?

A government that has introduced and sustained free education in the state, a feat that even states like Lagos and Rivers which internally generated revenue are higher than their monthly federal allocation have not achieved, has not done anything? A government that has embarked on visibly massive and aggressive infrastructural development does not deserve commendation? A government that has sanitized the system and fought corruption to a stand-still has not achieved anything? The same government that has taken the dividends of democracy to the door steps of the rural dwellers has also not achieved anything? We must realize that God is watching.

Just recently, I interviewed a top opposition leader in the state who confessed that the present administration 'is doing marvelously well' in the area of infrastructure. 'My problem with the governor is that he is not taking human capital development and welfare of the public servants very seriously. Things are not flowing.' That reminds one of the governor's open declaration that he has blocked avenues of corruption in the state. With that, we do not need to be told what the issues are. Money is not flowing!

More so, Imo is the only state in Nigeria where the first lady is not meddling and interfering with governance. Governor Okorocha's wife, Her Excellency, Nneoma Okorocha may not have held any official position, but she is contributing positively to Okorocha's administration. She hardly involves herself in state matters, unlike some other overzealous first ladies who cause a whole lot of image problems for their husbands through unguarded statements, by insulting their Husband's aides and friends. Rather than cause trouble for governor Okorocha, the First Lady is a symbol of peace. Her humanitarian services also speak for themselves.

While we agree that opposition and criticism are part of the beauty of democracy, care must be taken so that we do not incur the wrath of the gods of the land, and most importantly, the Almighty God. We must also learn to practice what we preach.

Meanwhile, the governors spin doctors must rise up to the challenge of ensuring that the activities of government are not just publicized, but explained to the public in order to defuse the tensions created by misrepresentations and rumour mongers in the state.

Core professionals must be engaged in the business of information management, public relations and corporate packaging of the present administration. The Special Adviser to the governor on Public Affairs, Chief Press Secretary to the governor and Commissioner for information must go back to their drawing board and design a workable action plan and implementation guide that can effectively package the present administration and put the records straight for the present administration and save Imo people from the challenge of misinformation. Addressing the present administration's most daunting communication challenges is key to its overall success.

While we are not making any case for governor Okorocha, there is no doubt that the governor deserves more than what he is getting in the area of information management, public relations and corporate packaging.

Who will bail the cat?

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Articles by Walter Duru