An open letter to Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha.
My Governor, My Governor,
Yes, that is your signature appellation. You remain my Governor despite everything. This is the reason writing this letter is a hard task for me. I believed in you and firmly approve the good work you have been doing in Imo State for these past seven years. I subscribe fully to your political roadmap, which saw you ride high and above the short-sighted, purblind and blighted political myopism of your enemies and political foes who were not endowed with your foresight. It is this same foresight that made you break away from the Lilliputian enclave and enclosed shell our people ply their political trade and join other progressives to form the All Progressives Congress which vanquished the existing octopoidal order and inflicted unbearable pain on the shortsighted politicians of easy virtue who never saw what you and few other Igbo saw at that time.
The victory of your own political vision in 2015 has unleashed incurable fits of anger, jealousy and despair on those who ignored your warning of an impending post-2015 political order and has consigned them into implacable traders of umbrage against you and other Igbo that boldly rose against the tide of that time. This is the reason you have been subjected to ceaseless scoffing, anger, abuse and tirade by those whose purblind political hustling met with sudden woes in 2015. This is the reason why Rochas trends almost everyday because in abusing you and inciting anger at you, these distressed Igbo political jobbers find temporary amelioration for their self-inflicted atrophies. That you shelled out from a native and rudderless cocoon to join a national movement that reshaped the nation’s politics should be a virtue your kinsmen should be proud of but that was not the case because they were waking up to a reality that they were forewarned of but they rather chose to sink in the deluge of self-deceit, short term trading and selfish aggrandizement.
My Governor, you have achieved so much for Imo State-far more than any governor has achieved (with the possible exception of legendary late Sam Mbakwe). You have made deep contributions to lift Imo State from its staid physical nature but the coyotes and hyenas who live by feeding from the resources of the state, their beneficiaries and subalterns chose to abuse, insult and malign you at every turn because you made a right political decision they were so blind to see as at the time you did. They are the children of frustration, anger and bile who ensured that Imo State was perpetually kept down for decades while their personal ends and interests were generously served. Though I had cause to quarrel with your style so often, I urged you on and threw solid support to your effort to re-define both governance and development in Imo State. Though I had reasons to disagree on the quality of finesse you put to your numerous projects but I firmly believed that half bread is still better than none. In the past, we had no structures and projects to quarrel with, all we had was the ceaseless stomping of godfathers, apex leaders, party chieftains and several caches of free loaders and their booty-sharing exercises to contend with. But thanks to you, you gave Imo projects to talk about and asses their qualities.
However, in all the syndicated umbrage against you for shunning an unproductive and self-fending political order and embracing a new progressive politics, I know you suffered these self-driven foes gladly. You never showed their pernicious darts and their weak selfish arrows hit you. You even gave it back to them in a manner that increased their woes as you carried on with assured swagger on the salvific mission you had in Imo. I personally laughed off their antics because I know it will take them more than what they can muster to remove or destroy the indelible imprimaturs you have etched in Imo State.
My Governor, your unflinching resolve to do best for Imo State where previous governors have rather plundered and ruined was the reason I solidly supported you. It was not a purchased support and I did my utmost best to deflect the darts and arrows they threw at you during your first term and stabilse your regime. You may enquire of these from Femi Adesina, now Special Adviser to the President on Media. He was always encouraging me on knowing I was ruled by the interests of Ndi Imo and nothing more in deciding not to join the bitter coyotes to rail against you simply because of your political choice. At this period, did you see me request or get a bottle of fanta from your government? So it is all about our people in Imo State.
I did my utmost best to campaign for your comeback based solely on your achievements. I did everything I did on my expense and never sought or got a kobo for campaigning for you. It was during the course of this second term campaign that I met most of your appointees; commissioners, advisers, etc. They should tell you that immediately you emerged victorious in the polls in 2015, we severed contacts and that is it till today. The future of Imo trumped all considerations in my decision to wage a personal campaign for your re-election.
But I became worried by your carriage and actions after you secured your second term. I became worried that My Governor, My Governor was in a desperate bid to shake off the people’s content in his government for reasons I didn’t understand. I became worried that you were aimed at collapsing governance to the Okorocha family and relatives. The party that fought so many hyenas to secure your second term was abandoned in abject neglect. The people that took the bullets for you were ignored. You rather went on a shopping spree for those that fought against you and children of some faded names. These were the people that you recruited into your government. Some of your former supporters and appointees mentioned these in comments but I urged them to continue supporting your government because it was for us all.
However, you didn’t show any evidence of mending this faux pas. You rather deepened it. Everything and considerations for state and federal appointments were reduced to an Okorocha family affair and their relatives and my position was that you should be allowed the free hands to manage the state as best as you could. Even as the bitter, hurting opponents raised the war cry against you to the highest octave, I still believed it is your prerogative to form your government the best you could so I saw no issue from it. Again, most of those who were forming a choir against you were those still nursing unhealable sores from your decision to join APC to defeat their PDP so I never saw the need to merge my own concerns with their own fixated and self-serving condemnations.
However, I had a feeling that you were wise enough to know when to apply the brakes and broaden governance and considerations to meet the interests of the legions that joined the APC after the collapse of the PDP. That was a sure way to broaden and solidify your base and quell the noisome wailing of the distressed heynas that were wailing from frustration that the old order had changed. Also, I believed that given the comprehensive victory you earned in 2015, where Imo people showed they were not persuaded by the mischief of the waning forces you replaced in 2011, you would be persuaded to build one impregnable united political family to drive the progressive family in Imo State and sustain your own political interests.
Lo and behold, you didn’t do that. Rather, you continued to contract governance and politics till they merged to become your sole self! You hired and fired with no qualms. You played men like pawns on a large chessboard. You elbowed others that joined the burgeoning APC family and hoisted yourself as the sole deity. But the topping of this service of self was in choosing to prod your son-in-law, who comes from the same area with you as your successor irrespective of the feelings and interests of other members of the party, the interests of other zones that make up the state. In doing this, you said you were driven by merit which you never made any effort to show in your choice of a peevish school boy whose only attribute for Imo governorship was that he is married to your daughter! It was a slight too many on not only the members of your party but the entire Imolites who were shell-shocked by your decision to lease all apparatchiks of government to your son-in-law to achieve a hugely unpopular ambition of being the governor after you.
This was the firing pin that set off the revolt against you. My Governor, the significant thing about this revolt is that it is in the APC family, which is the largest family in Imo State. The shocking thing is that the revolt is by people who ordinarily would be your supporters; the same people who offered themselves as body shield in your quest for the governorship in 2011 and for re-election in 2015! The revolt, this time around, is not from the politically-frustrated hyenas whom you have displaced but from the same people that have stood by you since you elected to run for governorship. It portends danger. It informs of a storm and this should warn you that your political essence is endangered. Why did you allow this, my Governor, why? Why did you play yourself to this tight corner? Why did you sacrifice your huge popularity in the quest for satiation of selfish desires? Why did you toss away your home base in pursuit of narrow interests? Why did you get so enslaved by the god of self that you never saw in that path the looming self-destruct which you set off when you decided to play god in the political space of Imo State? Why, my Governor, why?
My governor, you must note that the outcome of the ward congress of the APC in Imo State has exposed you to very embarrassing lights. Yes, your same APC has risen in total revolt of your ways and means and has once again, put up the same poignant revolt that brought you to power in the first instance. You must note that this is no joke and do you care to know why continuing in your obdurate insistence of personalizing governance and politics in Imo would be fatal to your political future? Because almost every other Imolite in APC is signed on to this project of stripping you of your god-complex and rending the party free from you. How did things get this bad, my Governor? How did you allow this kind of holistic domestic revolt to fester under your feet? Have you not been careless over your support base? Have you not taken the huge support given you for granted? Have you not allowed yourself to be seduced by the idol of self so that you didn’t hear the rumbles of your people?
Have you not been so carried away that you forgot where you were coming from? What is this annoying thing of single-handedly picking your son-in-law and riding him to power? Who gave you that idea? Who told you that you can run through the interests of Owerri Zone in such negligent manner? You know that among the three geo-political zones that make up Imo, Owerri zone has had the shortest end of the stick by having only two chequered years in the governance of the state whereas your Orlu zone will be having 16 years when you finish your rule in 2019 and Okigwe zone has had 8 years and three months. Why then did you pretend that Owerri zone’s interests don’t matter again when Orlu had its feel at the job by the concession of Owerri zone in 1999 when the need to balance the equitable zoning of the state rulership was brought into play? Why and how did you feel that this doesn’t matter again in your quest to railroad your son-in-law, from your Orlu zone to power?
My Governor, my Governor, you really fall my hand here. See how you have handed the same mischievous corrupt wailing opponents something to cheer about and kick you about? See how you had led the mobilization for your demystification by that careless masterstroke? See how the same APC you rightfully claim was the reason why the distraught opponents had been abusing you, has abandoned you in the cold. Why, why, why? So you never saw through the self-destruct you are igniting by prodding your son-in-law who is a neophyte in governance to succeed you or unilaterally dictating who will hold what office in Imo State in 2019? You never saw what is happening to you presently coming when you were deigning yourself a god made man? You never saw the road to perdition in your decision to abandon party men, ditch associates and turn every of your associate into implacable foe? Why were you so short-sighted?
Moving on, my Governor, there are still ways you can chart a remedial course. Sure, the battle for the Imo governorship and other political positions is still a long way off and this gives you enough room to make amends. You can make amends and re-assume your hallowed place in the hearts of progressives in Imo State. You must note that one of the hallmarks of great and successful leadership is how departing leaders manage the succession challenge. It is far trickier than you assume. It is much trickier than forking up a soulless son-in-law and leasing all apparatchiks of governance to him to ride safe to power. As you now know, such cheeky concession can barely survive the bulwark set in by genuine opponents as is happening to you presently. Perhaps the most successful leader in this aspect remains Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his remarkable success in handing succession politics is the reason he is flowering on national politics today. You can take priceless tutorials from him.
Moving forward, I want you, my Governor, to descend from your Olympian height and call for a truce because that will save you from a looming doom. You are best placed to initiate a genuine reconciliation because you are the governor. As I said earlier, you have done very well as governor and left impregnable landmarks in the governance of Imo State. No right thinking and honest Imolite will deny you such honour. No mischievous ranting and wailing by displaced political moths will erase your achievements in Imo. We all owe you that honour. But you need to end well politically. You need to retake the forte and this you can do by pursuing quick, honest and durable reconciliation with your opponents, alienated associates and supporters. Initiate a quick reconciliation effort with them, place everything on the table as it concerns offices in 2019. Prepare to give and take and leave all options open to all the divergent interests that converge in Imo APC. Above all, discontinue your dream of forcing your son-in-law on Imo State. That is the heart of your present political problems and once you do this, you are free to proceed to choose from among the jostling aspirants from Owerri zone or even throw in a fresh aspirant and back him in an open and fair governorship primary. Also, leave the other nominations for elective offices open for fair contest and I trust, if you do these, you will regain the trust and confidence of the teeming APC members and supporters who have been your pillar of support these many years.
I hope my Governor will take this piece of advice in good faith and reclaim the huge grounds he had lost in recent times, which is neither good for his political future nor for the image he had cultured in recent times.
Peter Claver Oparah