Rochas and the Limits of Political Theatrics
By Emmanuel Onwubiko
These are political seasons and indeed not the best of time to critique a government in Nigeria whereby most observers read political meanings into virtually all write ups that fundamentally addresses the major flaws in the running of any administrative machinery in any level of government in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Reading through the piece written by C. Don Adinuba and published by This day newspaper edition of Wednesday November 5th 2014 [back page] in which he took the ruling national party-Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] to the cleaners for allegedly foisting a political consciousness amongst its support base to the effect that the most troubling opposition political platform the All Progressives Congress [APC] which is angling to defeat the ruling national party was purely an Islamic religious political party that represents the interest of extremists and radical fundamentalists, one major concern I have was exactly the kind of sentiment I expressed in the beginning segment of this piece that these are not the best of times for any objective analysis of the goings on in the Nigerian political scenes particularly because of the risks of bad interpretations in which most people would read such materials with the politically tilted binoculars of partisanship.
Although I am aware of the closeness and friendship of this Lagos based Public relations guru Mr C. Don Adinuba with the political ruling house in Lagos, but I do also concede to the writer his fundamental poetic licence and indeed the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human rights to freely express his opinions and so it is with the same frame of mind and indeed broad based mind set that I have set out to treat the emerging confusing political scenarios playing out in the camp of the governor of Imo state Mr. Rochas Okorocha regarding where he intends to be post-2015 general election. First I must admit that I am particularly and indeed deeply concerned about the fluctuating political developments around the person of the current governor of Imo state because I am first and foremost a Nigerian from Imo state and so whatever plays out in that state fundamentally goes to the core of my 'Beingness' as a citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from that unique political space.
I am writing about the confusion that has enveloped the persona of Rochas Okorocha regarding what office he intends to seek and I am absolutely alarmed at his recent gerrymandering and the political merry -go- round that he seems to have embarked upon across the country probably using the resources of the good people of Imo state to further his political nest/ interest with specific reference to his now emerging interest to vie for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under the banner of the opposition All Progressives Congress [APC].
The Imo state governor had in the last two months prevaricated on the theme of whether he will run for a second term in office as the governor of Imo state or if he will try his political luck to seek to become the presidential flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress in the year 2015 general election. First he began this confusion by asking the rural populace in Imo state to contribute N1 each to a fund in order to purchase the governorship nomination form of his political party if the people still wants him to return to office. As if that drama wasn't sufficient enough to win him an epic comedy award, the Imo state governor has reportedly set up offices of his coordinators in the 36 states of the federation for the purposes of realising his dream or should I say political ambition of vying to become the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the forthcoming Presidential election. He recently visited Kaduna state whereby newspaper reports credited him with saying that he will run for the office of President under his new political platform-The All Progressives Congress.
Rochas it was who consistently stated that he will stand for a second term in the coming governorship election in Imo state under his political party which he joined after abandoning the All Progressives Grand Alliance that sponsored him to win election in the year 2011. His deputy who also doubled previously as his Personal assistant before he won elective office in 2011 Prince Madumere has severally been quoted in the popular press as indicating that his boss Mr. Rochas Okorocha will run for a second term in office as the governor of Imo state. This double speak and open ended theatrics of the Imo state governor regarding what he really wants to run by next year is so mystifying and amazing that many Imo state people are beginning to question the propriety of the man they saddled with the arduous responsibilities of being a state governor for four years who has in an inordinate fashion began to dabble into the arena of political confusion even while probably spending their hard earned public fund at the political alter of opportunism and self promotional gambits.
Here lies my question to the Imo state governor and this is specifically to ask him whether there is no limits to this merry -go- round and self inflicted political confusion that has beclouded his political ambitions for the coming electoral event which is the general election of 2015. This is also to humbly counsel the Imo state governor to be circumspect and stop playing to the political gallery and to specifically decide what he wants to run for between the offices of state governor and that of the Presidency of Nigeria and also he needs to come clean regarding how he has spent the enormous commonwealth of the people of Imo state in the last four years even before he can seek for the renewal of his mandate by the good people of Imo state.
The current administration in Imo state has made heavy weather of claiming to have embarked upon several projects but importantly there seems to be a wide gap between these phantom claims and the realities on the ground. In the early days of the current administration the people were actually carried away by the enormity of the infrastructural projects that the governor earmarked for execution but three and half years down the line the realities on the ground is that of the more -you -look the- less- you can see.
Where are all these so called giant projects said in the media to have been executed by the current governor of Imo state? In Arondizuogu virtually all the state and rural roads are in the worst state of disrepair even as the road linking Okigwe-Onuimo that takes hundreds -of- thousands of people into most rural communities in these two local government area councils and especially the communities that make up Arondizuogu has collapsed.
From Umuna Okigwe right up to Okwe, Umuduru -egbeaguru and Arondizuogu communities, there is no single passable road network and this situation was brought to the attention of the state governor by even my humble self and he promised to look into it and it appeared that the rehabilitation work on that road was awarded to an untested contractor who abandoned it or so it seems because as it is right now vehicular movements into over thirty communities within Onuimo, Ideato North and Okigwe Local government areas are almost non-existent.
The only available rural road was through communal and individual effort of the communities aforementioned. Where then are all the enormous releases from the Federal allocations meant for the development of the local government councils? This same bad governance and criminal neglect of the rural communities has remained the permanent feature of virtually all administrations in Imo state since 1999 and so the people are demanding accountability and transparency which gives no room for these types of political theatrics embarked upon by the governor who initially was perceived as a man capable of righting the heavy wrongs institutionally meted out to the rural poor in Imo state.
Rochas has made heavy weather of the allegations of high profile heist of Imo state public fund as was witnessed under his immediate predecessor's administration but he has done almost nothing but media noise to bring the alleged thieves of Imo state money to justice through the instrumentality of the existing anti-graft agencies but instead several of his serving commissioners have had brushes with the law enforcement agencies over allegations of outright stealing of state fund and misapplication of fund including the N6 billion or so that was cornered by a rogue Lebanese contractor who failed to execute a road project awarded to his firm and paid for by the current Imo state government and this scandal which has remained unresolved led to the dethronement through impeachment by the rubber- stamped state house of assembly in Owerri of the then Imo state deputy governor Mr. Jude Agbaso. Why has the current administration not basically address to its logical conclusion the allegations of theft of Imo state money that it made against the last state administration under the Peoples Democratic party government of Ikedi Ohakim? Why has the state government continued to foot drag over the essential demand of the Imo state people that our money cornered illegally by this rogue Lebanese contractor are retrieved to the last kobo because this is state fund that was stolen right under his nose?
What gives the current state governor the impression that he merits a second term and what gives the immediate past governor the courage to begin to seek to return to the Douglas House for the second term when allegations against him are still hanging without resolution? When I raised query demanding to know from Rochas why his administration has not thought it wise to logically complete all the on going projects scattered across the state, I was told that may be due to lack of good prioritization of these infrastructural facilities by the state administration could be responsible for the seemingly emerging pattern of abandoned projects under the Rochas Okorocha administration.
A friend from Edo state who recently visited Imo state wrote me a mail saying thus; ” I just came back from Owerri and what I saw did not impress me about what's on ground compared to the media hype. Roads that were reportedly constructed less than six months ago are due for reconstruction due to poor work and substandard materials.”
This unbiased testimony is what is the current state of almost all the urban roads said to have been constructed by the administration currently in place in Imo state and the reason is precisely because the government is said to be in the unlearned habit of awarding contracts to just any one without due process and these contractors are mostly inexperienced and lack the requisite technical qualifications and wherewithal to be able to sustainably execute infrastructural projects that would stand the test of time and that would comply with global best practices.
Right now let me turn to the long list of people vying to replace the current governor of Imo state, I want to tell them that if truly they are willing to take the state to the more advanced level that the current administration has been unable to do, they seriously need to market their developmental blueprints to the reading public and explain to the rural people in the language they will understand and also be ready to enter into social contract agreement with the voters on the deliverables that they individually intend to achieve if given the mandate to become the replacement for the current governor of the state should the incumbent lose election or should he decide finally to run for higher office other than the office of Imo state governor which he is entitled to run for just one more time if the people will give him the grace.
* Emmanuel Onwubiko heads Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria and [email protected] , HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION | Huriwa www.huriwa.org .,
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