The Many Sins of Governor Rochas Okorocha

by Peter Claver Oparah

Owelle Rochas Okorocha, the Governor of Imo State has sinned. You might chuckle that all have sinned and so what’s the big deal? But his own sins are unforgiveable. They are mortal sins and no redeeming grace can remedy him. He has not only sinned but he is going about it with an annoying brashness that adds salt to injury. If you have been reading news from Imo State in recent times, you will understand what I mean, which is why his sins and his many misdemeanors dominate reports on Imo in recent times. If you are far from ground zero, you will ostensibly walk away with the impression that the man is only waiting for the guillotine. His opponents have infiltrated the media and he seems not to have a response to the blitzkrieg they have unleashed on him and his government in recent times.

So far, he seems not appreciate the grave sins he has committed and the consequences of such sins. Where he understands, he seems not to give a hoot about the feelings of his opponents who have cried themselves hoarse about the many sins of the brash governor. He has been known to throw in one or two jabs at his opponents and dismissed them as insignificant irritants. In fact, he recently dubbed them irredeemable local champions who have nothing to offer the state. It is such swashbuckling moments that incense his opponents the more and stiffens their resolve to ensure he does not survive a single tenure in Douglas House Owerri.

On a recent visit to my state, I found out for myself those who are neighing for Rochas’ throat and the source of their angst. What more, Heartland FM, the Radio Nigeria FM station in Owerri is permanently dedicated to his foes and a certain itinerant jobber is detailed to anchor the hate campaign on him through spurious wave of propaganda passed off as newstalk. What beats the imagination is how the radio station could lease its entire broadcast space to such warfare against the governor who seems not to even care if such station exists. This however is an issue for another day. I am more interested in the many sins of Rochas for which he is slated for the slaughter slab.

Top on the groups that want the head of the Owelle for dinner is the rump of the PDP, whose twelve years stay in power was truncated by the people’s revolt that swept Rochas to power. As a party, PDP relishes in living off the state and for that purpose, different shades of cabals and amorphous groupings emerged; godfathers, stakeholders, apex leaders, caucus leaders, etc and they were in full bloom for the twelve years PDP reigned in Imo. In these years, state resources were at the disposal of these amorphous groups for free loading and they never disappointed. Conversely, while they fed fat and luxuriated from the common till, every infrastructure and public utility suffered without let. While members of the PDP fed fat on Imo State, the state of roads worsened, unemployment ravaged unceasingly, public utilities were interred, the educational and health sectors went into oblivion, local government funds became feeding change for apex leaders, stakeholders, caucus leaders and godfathers and in twelve years, Imo State crumbled as the PDP reveled. With the coming of Rochas and with him devoting state funds for massive infrastructural rehabilitation and expansion, the access to free funds has percolated. The godfathers and the apex leaders are hungry and they are sowing insurrection to the effect that Rochas must go. Their grouse is that he is impudent enough to allow Pharaoh’s taskmasters go hungry while investing in public infrastructures and other services to benefit the masses; the wretched of the earth.

Another group that wants Rochas’ head at all costs is the civil servants. Many have dubbed civil servants as partners in crime with the politicians in salting away public resources. I don’t know the truism in this but the coming of Rochas in Imo State is exposing the rump of civil servants as servants of self and not of the people. From what I gathered from Imo State, Rochas has plugged every loophole through which civil servants and politicians bleed the state treasury and forced civil servants to live within their means. This is not going down well with the civil servants especially those that work close to the seat of power and for this; they are growing trenchant that Rochas must not survive. Of course, they find company in the sybaritic opponents of Rochas who rue the good old days of free loading and will do everything to bring such happy days back.

The third group of implacable foes Rochas has sinned against are the public contractors who were born and bred in the tradition of seeing public contracts as their shares of the national cake. Because this code binds the contract giver and the contract receiver, it was easy to see why nothing meaningful has happened in Imo State since Mbakwe left. I understand that public contractors are only mobilized after a satisfactory completion of certain percentage of works on a particular contract and if a contractor must get paid for work done, he must have achieved a satisfactory level in the entire contract execution. No more are pseudo contractors leveraged with huge state resources and left to go and enjoy their good fortunes, with the contract unexecuted and I understand this is breeding so much tension with the professional contractors who have indoctrinated the culture of plundering the state with phantom contracts while nothing happens at the end of the day.

The fourth group that desires to be served dinner with Rochas’ head are his appointees-yes his appointees. I understand that those that staged thanksgiving when they were appointed as Rochas’ political appointees are regretting electing to serve with him because he is not spreading the nectars on them. Those who fasted, prayed, lobbied, augured to be appointed into Rochas’ government are reportedly regretting their decision because the essence of being a political appointee in a Nigerian state has been defeated. Where they expected to be pampered with state resources, as is the culture in Nigeria, they are being restricted to living within their means. This certainly is not what they bargained for when they put in desperate bids to be in his government and I understand that this has bred a rash of grumblings and ill feelings in his cabinet. In fact, many have reportedly voted with their feet while many others have defected to the rank of his opponents to ensure he does not last the distance.

But it took my visit to Imo to understand the underlying current with the deadly politics that is brewing in the state at present. Simply, Rochas is becoming a queer governor and a marked man because he decided to shun the courts of the pests and parasites that ensured that nothing worked in the state and embrace the masses who have suffered under these political task masters. I saw the massive roads being constructed in every nook and cranny of Imo State, I saw the kind of unimaginable transformation unleashed on Owerri, Orlu and Okigwe in the last one and half years, I saw the new general hospitals being built in the 27 local councils, most of which are at advanced stages of construction. I observed that free education is progressing so smoothly that pupils of primary and secondary schools in Imo are about to be provided with free school uniforms, books, sandals and other accoutrements that will enhance delivery of free education in Nigeria’s most literate state. I saw New Owerri and the heavy infrastructural renewal that has been wrought there. I saw the brand new government house and many more of such soul lifting works Rochas has done in one and half years to resurrect the hope that has laid in limbo since 1983 when Mbakwe ended his glorious era. What however made my heart leap most gladly for joy were the new model schools that are being built in each of the 305 wards in the state. One needs to see the Township Primary School on Wetheral Road, Owerri, which can rival most state and private universities in N

igeria today in terms of the new structure put up there in just few months.

After this, I understand why Rochas opponents are spewing the bile they are spewing at present. I understand why his foes are unrelenting. I understand why his sins are unforgiveable. With these projects and many more, how can there be enough for the ancient greed of the apex leaders, the godfathers, the stakeholders and all other sundry groupings that pest on the state for survival? It is a survival war and heaven knows no greater fury than that of a hungry godfather and a rampaging party that feeds fat on public treasury. What impudence, what insouciance could make Rochas relegate their fire eating greed for the welfare of the masses? Indeed, he must be shoed off for them to survive. O yes, they and their selfish interests matter so much. When you ask them of the massive works Rochas is doing in Imo, their retort will always be, ‘na that one we go chop?’. They are right. It is not that one they will chop and chopping is the name of politics in Nigeria so nothing will save Rochas for mustering the guts to sentence the task masters to life in limbo in Imo State while attending to the needs of the common masses. So when next you hear the whining and loud gnashing of teeth about the many sins of Rochas, you understand where such is coming from and why it is so. Pharaoh’s task masters are angry, they are crossed that Rochas is attending to the commoners and neglecting them and nothing can assuage their present boiling rage than the head of Rochas.

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