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Now That Okorocha Has Registered As APC Member: The Frustrations Of Volunteer Media Professionals

In keeping with its timetable which was rolled out a few months ago, the membership registration of the All Peoples Congress (APC) has just kicked off. As Imo Rescue Volunteer media professionals, we had waited on the commencement of this exercise with interest. To the Imo rescue volunteer media professionals, the APC registration exercise is a very important event because it is a critical factor in our continued collaboration and partnership to Governor Okorocha in the way we report and slant our political analyses. The label Imo Rescue Volunteer Media Professionals refers to those media professionals who constituted the backbone of media support for the actualization of the 2011 governorship agenda of Owelle Rochas Okorocha.

In one of my viewpoints entitled “Imo 2011 Election: Why we supported regime change”, I gave reasons why we rallied behind Owelle Okorocha in his bid to become governor. It was not on account of his wealth, political sagacity or exceptional qualities. Rather, as I tried to explain in that viewpoint, we supported Owelle Okorocha in the battle for regime change because majority of Ndimo had the belief that Ikedi Ohakim's Administration had become a monumental and systemic failure, a classic case of a failed government. Please Goggle that viewpoint and read online. While other governorship hopefuls fled the state out of fear of Chief Ohakim, Owelle Okorocha was the only politician who had the courage to confront Ikedi Ohakim in his den.

He was the only politician who was prepared to beard the lion in its den.Initially, we did not take Okorocha seriously because there was a mindset that the governorship slot must go to an Okigwe politician.Incidentally, Okigwe politicians who were interested in the Government House went into hiding because of the fear of their brother, Ikedi Ohakim. When it became clear that Chief Ikedi Ohakim was the only cock crowing in the governorship race, we reluctantly turned our attention in the direction of Owelle Rochas Okorocha . At a point, we even discovered that Owelle was so militant and combative that even the former hyperactive Governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, was afraid of him. It was at this point the Rescue Media Volunteers threw their weight around him. In the long run, Owelle Okorocha was declared Governor at the end of the 2011 governorship election.

Since his inauguration as governor on May 29th, 2011, Governor Okorocha has never cared to bother about the political party or the group of media professionals who stood by him in the battle front. In his first appointment of Exco members, he brought in over 100 appointees; most of those who manned the various portfolios in his Administration were people who were not very visible as supporters of the governor during the electioneering. Some of them were pulled from the Nollywood while others came from Ariaria market, Aba, yet some were recruited from foreign radio channels in the great cities of the world including all manner of people who held top positions including comedians and the like. While they occupied big portfolios in the media segment of the Okorocha Administration, they never wrote even any viewpoints or rebuttals in support of the government they were serving.

In spite of this provocation, we remained loyal and supportive of Governor Okorocha because one does not pull down a house built by one. Having facilitated his epic victory, we felt obliged to provide him with the requisite media logistics to enable him overwhelm his political opponents who were frantically closing in on him. Our continued loyalty to Governor Okorocha is anchored on the fact that the umbilical cord that links us to him is the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), the party through which Owelle Okorocha became governor after over twelve years of failed efforts to win an election victory. Everything we did for Owelle Okorocha was done on the basis of volunteerism. We never asked for food, money or any form of gratifications.

Sometime in 2013, we were shocked to hear Governor Okorocha announce severally at various fora that “APGA is dead; APGA is a cultural union, a non-Governmental organization (NGO)”. The shock came to its Zenith when he announced that he had defected to All Progressives Congress (APC).In spite of these announcements from Gov. Okorocha, we remained loyal to him as we continued to give him favourable reportage on the Press- print, online and the like. Since we are not card--carrying members of APGA, we did not bother to ask why Okorocha declared APGA dead before defecting to APC. We regarded his comments as mere anti-party activities for which we, as media professionals, should not bother about. After all, the APGA leadership did not remember us when thy were sharing the spoils of office(appointments and largesse of powewr) after the election victory.

Our major grouse is not that Okorocha defected to APC but rather because he described APGA as dead. Again, he did not have the simple humility of getting the volunteers under one forum to inform them of his decision to dump APGA. Even while we were in the season of 2011 electioneering, I made it clear to others that Owelle Okorocha would not stay up to six months in APGA before defecting to PDP. I was very sure that he would abandon APGA; so, when it happened, I was not surprised at all but rather my grouse was on his describing the party in negative terms. His oft-repeated labelling of APGA as a dead cultural Union/Non Governmental Organization is very unfair and portrays him as an ungrateful human being. Before he joined APGA, Owelle had crisscrossed through several political parties. He did not kill any of those political parties before he abandoned them.

He simply abandoned those parties with some dignity but in the case of APGA, he described the party as a dead cultural union/Non Governmental Organization (NGO).A few days ago, he even described the APGA as a cock which is only good for a Christmas meal. One of his aides went further to state that APGA was killed last December when its symbol, THE COCK, was killed and consumed as menu for Christmas ceremony. He even said that the cock is only known for scattering things and disorderliness. These labels are very provocative, more so, when they are made by a person who is the biggest beneficiary of APGA in Imo State. Once Owelle Okorocha was inaugurated Governor through APGA platform, he forgot the days of little beginnings and started describing APGA in obscene labels.

In spite of these vexatious and obscene comments on APGA and its leadership, we remained faithful to Governor Okorocha because we are not politicians but media technocrats. A few days ago, the media networks were abuzz with reports that Okorocha and his disciples had finally registered as members of All Progressives Congress (APC). As a result of his membership registration in APC, it is safe to conclude that Governor Okorocha is now a member of APC.Again, It hurts that after all the risks taken to facilitate his victory, Governor Okorocha simply bolted away from the homestead without the simple courtesy of holding a session with the numerous Imo Rescue Volunteers in order to explain that he was defecting to another political party. He would have expressed his gratitude to them for their efforts in actualizing his governorship project and then appeal to them to join him in his new party. I am quite sure that majority of the people would have wished him well in his new party.

To whom much is given, much is expected. A governor who benefitted so much from people's act of volunteerism would not have ignored the same group while defecting to another party. After all, it would not cost him a dime. Those who know Owelle Okorocha well should have known that he is not the type that can pitch his permanent tent in any one political party. Even now, Governor Okorocha is not in APC for live; soon, he will move to another political party and he may even engage in reverse gear and embrace PDP in the long run. So, we have not heard the last on Governor Okorocha's defection saga; it's a continuum.

It is the zenith of ingratitude to manifest such scorn, indifference and contempt on a political party/groups that facilitated your election victory, more so, after you have been in desperate search of an election victory for over a decade. The way to thank God for using some people and APGA to facilitate your victory is not to mount the rostrum and pour tirades on the APGA and its leaders. It rankles and smacks of a lack of humility. While leaving the APGA, Governor Okorocha forced the APGA out of the State Secretariat office and hoisted the flags of his new found party APC, thus leaving the APGA stranded. As a Governor, could he not have held a banquet with the APGA and the various volunteers who worked for him in the electioneering period to announce to them that he had decided to decamp to the APC. At the end of the banquet, he would then announce that he would pay the rent on the APGA State Secretariat upfront to 2015 and that the party should retain the state office as his own contribution to show his gratitude to the party and the various volunteers who used the APGA platform to support him. This is a practical show of appreciation and humility which would have given him political mileage. Such a ceremony would not have cost him any money because we have become used to attending Governor Okorocha's events without being offered a sachet of water.

So, anytime, he called for a gathering, we turned out enmasse even though nobody was expecting food or money. Such was our love and passion for him, but today we can see that Owelle Okorocha has no qualms in abandoning the volunteers without giving a damn. With a simple gesture of pep talk to the APGA leaders and volunteers, he would have tactically shot a silver bullet that would have impelled us to join him in his newfound party. Yes, if Governor Okorocha had performed this simple gesture of goodwill to the APGA, the banquet Hall would have been a vale of tears from the numerous volunteers who would have wept inconsolably in bidding him farewell to his new party.

After all, as stated earlier, we supported Okorocha in 2011 for the sole purpose of using him to sack his predecessor; Chief Ikedi Ohakim. We did not join his governorship project because of his fabled wealth and prosperity. I want to state without any fear of contradiction that if money was the attraction, we would have got so much of it from the Ohakim-led PDP who was spending as if money was going out of fashion. As volunteers, we did not expect monetary gains but selfless service. So, Owelle Okorocha was a pampered politician who had everything done for him free of cost, hence he does not know the risks people took for his sake. So, it is painful that after all the risks, all we now hear is that “APGA DID NOT MAKE ME GOVERNOR; APGA is a dead party, a cultural union”.

A few days ago, he was celebrating the victory of Chief Okwu over Victor Umeh in a High Court case, even when the ruling of the Court of Appeal on the issue has not been set aside. This is unfair. Why should our governor be rejoicing on the grounds of the political crises in a party that gave him a platform to become governor? Yet, it was this Sir Victor Umeh and the National EXCO who imposed him on the APGA in Imo State. As a journalist who was deeply embedded in APGA Media Centre during the 2011 campaigns, I am aware that it was the Sir Victor Umeh-led National EXCO that facilitated his being given a platform to fly the banner of APGA in the governorship poll. But today, Owelle Okorocha celebrates the so-called fall of Sir Victor Umeh. The case involving Sir Victor Umeh and Chief Okwu is still in the courts; so, it's premature for Governor Okorocha or anybody to be celebrating what they call” the fall of Umeh”.Even, if in the most unlikely event, Sir Umeh loses finally in the court, it will still be repugnant to good conscience for Governor Okorocha to describe his fall as a “Divine Intervention”.

Governor Okorocha's unguarded attacks on the top elite of the APGA are embarrassing to most of us who were deeply involved as media volunteers in Okorocha 2011 project. While addressing the press after he returned from a long sojourn abroad recently, Governor Okorocha said that NDI Anambra and Governor Peter Obi were the causes of the political crises of Ndigbo in Nigeria. As a State Governor and national Chairman of the Governors' Forum of his party (APC), Governor Okorocha would not have been the one to make such an unprovoked attack on Governor Peter Obi and NDI ANAMBRA, a sister state in the South East Zone.

If such an indictment was ever necessary, there are so many of his political aides who would have been used to make such an embarrassing comment, not the governor himself. Since some of his aides had earlier made several such hostile comments on Governor Peter OBI and the APGA in their newspaper columns, it was not necessary for him to amplify the message. Those in high political positions should talk with caution and foresight. It is my opinion that neither NDI ANAMBRA nor Governor Peter Obi deserves such unguarded jeremiad from a person of the status of a State Governor.

Perhaps, it is pertinent to make a passing comment on the impeachment of Sir Jude Agbaso, the former Deputy Governor, who was impeached under some doubtful circumstances. That episode leaves a sour taste in the mouth, more so, considering the synergy that would have ordinarily existed between the elder brother to Sir Jude, Chief Martin Agbaso, and Governor Okorocha. Well, I may not shed tears for APGA because when the early signs of abandonment by GOV Okorocha manifested, I drew the attention of some bigwigs of APGA to the unfolding problem and advised they should talk with Okorocha but they said all was well. Since the impeachment case is in court, I refuse to discuss it elaborately because it is sub judice.

A similar thing happened in the United States in 1974-that is- when President Richard Nixon, the 37th President of the United States, swiftly resigned as President in order to escape impeachment over the Watergate Scandal. He was replaced by his Vice President, Gerald Ford. The first Presidential decision of President Gerald Ford was to grant Nixon a full pardon for any crimes he might have committed while in office. I am aware that in that case, President NIXON resigned because of guilt but in the case of Sir Jude Agbaso, the anti-graft agency, EFCC, has declared him innocent of any financial scam.

So, he may not even accept a pardon, since he has not violated any law. By granting pardon to Richard Nixon, the crises were resolved to the satisfaction of all the parties. No party was celebrating the misfortune of any group member. That is how the matter was amicably resolved to the satisfaction of all the parties. In Akwa Ibom State, the then Deputy Governor, Engineer Chris Ekpenyong, was impeached but the impeachment was later converted to resignation. So, how about resolving this issue amicably by converting Sir Jude Agbaso's impeachment to resignation? I advise Governor Okorocha and the Agbasos to, as a matter of urgency, take this matter out of court in order to resolve the impasse through administrative fiat. This will do Governor Okorocha some good. Often, what you get in the court is judgment and not justice. It is very sad and despicable that the great relationship and synergy between Governor Okorocha and Chief Martin Agbaso has plummeted and nosedived. No genuine Imo Rescue Media Volunteer will be happy about this sad development. In spite of our frustrations at the sudden turn of events in our Rescue Imo Family, I commend Governor Okorocha on his giant strides in the past thirty months.

However, his indifference and cavalier approach to those who stood by him at the hour of political distress does not augur well for his political future. A politician like him who has been so richly endowed and blest should desist from the habit of celebrating the downfall or political challenges of others, more so, those who contributed to his political rise. I want to emphasize that in a true democracy, rule of law is supreme and sovereign. What we desire in Imo State is a true democratic rule and not the dictatorship of the rule of law or Rule by Law which now obtains. It was this thirst or quest for rule of law and abhorrence for rule by law that impelled us to move against the former Governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, and this mass movement culminated in his ignominious defeat at the polls in 2011.So, we are still hungry for true democracy. In a democracy, any achievement that does not conform to the rule of law is of nuisance law. It was the great scholar, George Santayana, who once said that:” Those who do not remember the past are condemned to making the same mistakes”. May this not be the portion of our governor, Owelle Okorocha.

Community Government Council(CGC) Election for March 1st. I have been told that Government has scheduled a CGC election on the Ist March 2014.We do not need this election now in Imo State. It is provocative that at a time when other states are holding Local Government Elections, we are talking of a CGC election. The Governor had told the world that there would be LG election in IMO State in March this year and we are waiting for the fulfillment of this gubernatorial pronouncement. All over the world, cost of holding elections is very prohibitive. We do not have to waste our scarce resources in holding a nondescript election at this point in time.

What is the budget for this Jamboree of a CGC election? Are we not entitled to know? Since the government wants to run a CGC, it should go ahead to appoint those who will work in those communities. The CGC is his baby ;no other party is asking to be represented in the CGC. Since the other political parties are not interested in the CGC job, there is no need to fritter away huge amount in conducting a CGC election since the Governor and his EZEs are at liberty to fill the positions through appointments.

This CGC election is an avoidable waste of public funds. The imperatives of frugal husbandry of our scarce resources cannot be overemphasized. All over the country, various states are organizing Local Government elections in order to satisfy one of the conditions to qualify for creation of new states. We must not fail to conduct LG election now. How do we conduct CGC election at a time the various communities are mired in a cesspool of crises as a result of imposition of traditional rulers on them? Most of the communities are still in court for various reasons while over a hundred autonomous communities do not yet have EZES.The Government recently set up a judicial panel to investigate the crises in most of the 637 autonomous communities in Imo State.

Although the Panel has since submitted its report, the Government is yet to issue a White Paper to make its stand known. These are just some of the reasons to avoid any talk of a Community Council Election at this point in time. Governor Okorocha should use executive fiat to appoint those to serve in these CGCs. May Providence give our governor the wisdom to think positively because the future is bumpy and only those who act with caution, diligence and circumspection will have the coveted crown of glory in 2015.

The Plan of APGA to Drag Okorocha to court for Carpet-crossing: It is my advice that the leaders of APGA should not drag Governor Okorocha to court in a bid to sack him as governor of Imo State. We have heard that APGA has already sued Okorocha on the grounds of carpet-crossing to APC, even though he became Governor on the platform of APGA. This reprisal attack is unnecessary and does not bode well for APGA. The party should look beyond Okorocha's sabotage/betrayal and leave him to his conscience. APGA does not have the resources to waste by way of legal fees to lawyers in a wild goose chase which purpose is to sack Governor Okorocha.

The man should be allowed to continue his work without further distractions. Providence used us to actualize his governorship agenda and we shoud be thankful that our efforts were not in vain. After all, the purpose of that struggle –to effect a change of government- was achieved. I conclude this piece by referring to my viewpoint entitled.” May this mega merger not submerge Okorocha and APGA” which was published in several newspapers Please Google the headline and read online.

JOHN MGBE

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Articles by John Mgbe