Rochas, Ndigbo and APC

by Peter Claver Oparah

Perhaps, the most strategic, visionary and fore-sighted political move from the South East in recent times is the decision of the Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, to join forces with other progressive Nigerians to form the All Progressives Congress. That this move is coming when local politicians, especially the idle repertoire of political idlers in Imo State PDP have made a palatable diet of predicting when the governor will walk back to their suffocating fold-in their lazy feeling that no Nigerian politician will resist the PDP hemlock, speaks of the governor’s proactive political thinking and power of deft strategizing. I believe that Owelle’s decision to lead the Eastern flank of the APC onslaught must have rested the hope and prayers of the local wing of the PDP that Rochas will walk back to its fold and reflate its sagging currency.

The APC threat is so real that some PDP governors have began predicting the end of their notorious party if the APC becomes a reality. It is so real that recently, the Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu, warned his party men that they stand to lose in 2015 if they don’t sit up and improve on their staid approach to governance and politics now that the APC has come to pose a credible threat to their quest for monopolistic power. The way and manner the ranks and file of PDP react to the emergence of the APC shows that there is indeed cause for alarm among the members of PDP who have so leveraged on the awkward and rudderless politics played since 1999 that they are almost beginning to think that power will be theirs for the asking in subsequent elections. The deep gashes this type of lazy thinking has inflicted on governance is all there for all to see but suffice it to say that the parlous state of the country says it all on how Nigeria, a richly endowed and promising country has been wrecked by this perpetual political heritage mentality the PDP has promoted for fourteen awful years.

What has surprised the rank and file of the PDP is how the parties and interests that are midwifing the APC have disappointed their doomsday predictions and have defied every negative permutation from the PDP to forge on with an uncommon spirit of seriousness that had not been previously seen in Nigerian politics. PDP rank and file have been struck by the spirit of amity that has ruled the process of emergence of the APC and this, they know, portends the real threat to their own calculation that somehow, thunder will strike and scatter the converging parties and hand them a fresher lease of life. So far, this prediction has come to naught and this has left PDP in such disheveled state that it is finding so hard to manage. Again, PDP’s horrible delivery with governance where corruption, mismanagement, incompetence, impunity, etc have become determining policies of governance has exposed the PDP to the impending threat the APC stands to pose for its perpetual suzerainty, as had been forecasted by its members.

At a time Igbo feel sorely disappointed that their largely emotional investment in the last presidential election and indeed in the PDP have yielded awful returns, there is need to quit playing the uncelebrated buffer to the hideous interests in the PDP and taking the bull by the horn, as the Owelle has done. In the last election, Igbo jettisoned their own interests to tag along that of the PDP. They hewed unto themselves a candidate from the PDP presidential candidate and baptized him in Igbo, promoted and flattered him as one of theirs in the hope that such gesture would be reciprocated. We were promised everything on earth; Second Niger Bridge, international airport, state of the art roads, refinery in the South East, railways, jobs, power stations, additional states, etc. Midway into the tenure of our candidate, Igbo are so hopelessly stranded that they are not farther from the position they were at the time these promises were rendered.

After prolonged hues and cries and after sustained suffering Igbo indulge trying to cross the River Niger, we have been promised a second Niger Bridge (mind you-a promise still) and this is coming with an unbelievable condition that the promised bridge, which is not more than one and half kilometers in length, would be tolled. This makes it the only bridge among hundreds of other bridges (including the 12 kilometer Third Mainland Bridge) that will be tolled from at least two points! The promise of an international airport is not farther from reality than the saliva with which that promise was uttered. The state of federal highways in the East such as the Onitsha-Enugu, Enugu-Port Harcourt, Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene, Aba-Ikot Ekpene, Enugu-Abakaliki, Ninth Mile-Nsukka-Obollo Afor Roads, are horrible. The promise of a refinery in the South East is still a mirage. The promised additional states have not migrated beyond the realm of promise. Ndi Igbo have hardly bought fuel at the official N97 per liter as the area has become a haven for officially backed fuel racketeers. The South East still remains the least patronized region in Nigeria and appointees from the South East remain the only ones that are discharged like wet rags, treated with demeaning contempt and pronounced disrespect, as was with Barth Nnaji, the former Power Minister and Mrs. Uzoma, the past Comptroller General of Nigerian Immigration Services. Unemployment batters the South East and the recourse to crime by the able and educated but frustrated youths has made the South East so insecure that its brightest and best seldom touch base. These are enough to provoke a deep thinking race to action; positive actions that can re-position them for the future.

This need is what Owelle Rochas has tried to attend to by joining the emerging alternative platform since the PDP platform has failed Igbo in fourteen barren years. With Owelle’s laudable move, the Igbo have secured a very important footing in the important political milestone that will certainly redefine the politics we have been saddled with since 1999. With this move, it behoves the Igbo to take their political aces and project their future political chances in a tempestuous Nigerian polity. No more should Igbo be made hewers of wood and fetchers of water, as the PDP has programmed for them since 1999. Let the Igbo start organizing themselves and build their input into the emerging political front and negotiate as equal partners in the new lease of opportunity the APC offers. Igbo need to see through their unproductive politics of carrying the buckets for political interests that take scant regards of their feelings.

In electing to join forces with other progressive Nigerians, sufficiently enraged by the doldrums we are passing through at present, to form a formidable party that will rusticate the noxious PDP from power, Rochas is reading deep into the durable political calculation that informed the formation of the APC. The political correctness of the effort is informed by the increasing state of decay the fourteen years of PDP governance has levied on Nigeria such that its replacement is what Nigeria seriously needs to avert an impending collapse of the country.

I believe the starting point is for Ndigbo to start the process of mobilizing for APC in their various communities and neighbourhoods even if to ensure that Ndigbo are no longer taken for granted by the cabal that have presided over the powerlessness of Ndigbo in Nigerian politics since 1999. Ndigbo must think deep and organize themselves around issues that pertain, but not limited to, corrupt and bad governance delivery especially at the center, the continued marginalization of Ndigbo, the increasing rot, decay, corruption, insecurity, impunity that threaten to hobble the country should the PDP continue monopolizing power just for the purpose of looting and public stealing, as we have at present. Ndigbo should not wait to be mobilized around these issues as they are so poignant in the threats this devalued template of governance pose to our individual and collective liv

es as Nigerians. Let the process start. Let people start organizing themselves and key to the raging APC tempo so that we can be parts of the change that is surely coming. The hideous fractures we have sustained in the callous hands of PDP task masters should ground us to work for change, especially in Igboland.

Good enough, Owelle Rochas Okorocha who leads our present quest for political relevance has shown what good governance should be through his laudable achievements in the short period he has governed Imo. A good leader should inspire by his deeds and this has placed Rochas in strategic position for the role he is doing at present. He is strategically placed to lead the Igbo quest by his stellar performance in power. His greatest asset in the new role he is playing is his record of performance and that is a very important selling point in leading a people to –political glory. Rochas has shown he is a tested and proven leader and it is only natural that he should get our maximum support in the present effort to lead Igbo to political glory.

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