By Comfort Obi
Life is full of ironies. It can pull unbelievable surprise. Ask Imo state governor, Rochas Okorocha. He has just been suspended from his party, the All Progressives Congress, a party he was very proud of. In suspending him, the state APC chairman, Marcelinus Nlemigbo, said the governor has become bad news for the party. He said the man has become a betrayer; that he has embarked on, and engaged in, anti-party activities and so, an embarrassment to the party. So, the party kicked him out.
It is an irony of sorts. Who could have thought this possible? For a man whose secular sermon in the past five years has been. “I am the father of the APC in the South-east; I brought APC to the state and made it popular, it is an all-time low in his life. His pride has been punctured. His ego bruised. And even though he has dismissed the suspension as hog-wash, the irony is not lost on anybody. The consequences are clear. Most likely, it would strip him of his position as the chairman of the APC Governors Forum – a position he covets very much. A respite may, however, come if the National leadership of the party intervenes. But that’s a long shot. It will be like the Biblical camel passing through the eye of a needle. Here is why.
The national body sees Okorocha as a huge embarrassment. Ask Adams Oshiomhole, the man Okorocha once coveted, just to spite former Chairman, John Odigie Oyegun. He thinks Okorocha is a stain on the party.
On the day he presented Senator Hope Uzodinma as the party’s governorship candidate in Owerri, Oshiomhole, acting and sounding like a Pentecostal Pastor, stopped short of invoking the Holy Spirit to pursue Okorocha and deal with him . Now, his prayers seem to have been answered. And Okorocha may well be on a long, lonely, road out of the APC. He has been abandoned by everybody, almost.
The chorus is that he had it coming; that it serves him right; that he ought to have been kicked out from the party earlier than now.
Okorocha bestrode the Imo APC and the state like a colossus. His words were law, and he had everybody grovelling before him. With the suspension, a great misfortune has befallen the man. Not even his Northern friends who he flaunts all the time seem to want to lend a helping hand. For long, he had depended on them to get away with everything, anything, almost.
To show how much he coveted his relationship with them, following is a live encounter with the governor at the government house, Owerri.
During an interactive session with some senior journalists, mostly from Lagos, many months ago, the governor said something which, at once, both amused and shocked those present, including this writer.
In answer to a question, the governor appealed to the senior journalists never to write a good story on him; never to praise him. He asked that bad stories be constantly written about him, and his activities in Imo state and the South-east in general. Taken aback, he was asked why. Political office holders love good stories written about them. They love to be praised. They lobby for it. They revel in it. But here, this governor was, seriously appealing to us not to write any positive stories on him. Many felt it was strange.
So, he was asked why. And his reply took us even more aback than his appeal. “The Northern people are my friends. They take me as their own. When you write good stories about me, it will not make as much impact as bad stories would. When the stories are bad, they think you are now persecuting me, their brother, because of them. So, they will protect me and give me support. They will say I am being persecuted for their sake.”
For whatever reasons, a number of people insist Okorocha is a Northerner. Not true. He is Igbo. His DNA is Igbo. His mother is Igbo. His father is Igbo. He may have gone to school in the North, but he is Igbo.
But many Imolites refer to him as Okoro-Hausa. He loved that. It served his political purpose. It gave him security, political-wise. Which is why since his travails, he has made a song of reminding his friends in the North that Imo people, initially, were making a ridicule of him by calling him Okoro-Hausa. He never misses an opportunity to remind them that those who now parade themselves as APC chieftains in Imo initially made a mockery of him for his support for the APC. But that’s blackmail. Nigerian politicians are certified prostitutes. They jump from one bed to the other.
The question, which he never really answered is why being labeled Okoro-Hausa, would bestow on him an edge, politically, over his kinsmen, or anybody for that matter. Not a few people felt, and still feel, it is a sign of inferiority complex. You know, wannabe. But things have since changed.
Okorocha is lamenting. He is bemoaning his fate. He is shocked that everybody seem to have abandoned him. He is shocked that he is working alone along a lonely political path. And it hurts.
The governor’s lonely journey began when a crop of Imo men and women suddenly woke up from a deep political slumber and said they had had enough of the shenanigans in the state. They stopped lamenting, and decided to take action. The beauty of it is: They put political party differences aside and just decided to take the state’s destiny in their hands. So, they came together across party lines. They put their personal interests behind them. They are quite a bunch. The swan song is: Get our state back from Okorocha.
Amongst others, the gentlemen that must be counted are: Senators Hope Uzodinma (who snatched the APC Imo governorship candidate slot from Okorocha’s son-in-law, and Chief of Staff, Uche Nwosu), Osita Izunaso, Ifeanyi Ararume (APGA’s governorship candidate), and Benjamin Uwajimogu. There were also, Jude Ejiogu, (former Chief of Staff, former Secretary to the state Government), and T.O. Ekechi, Okorocha’s former Commissioner for Information. There is, also, the former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, now PDP governorship candidate.
I deliberately reserved the most important person for the final acknowledgement. Deputy Governor Eze Madumere was the closest person, amongst the lot, to Okorocha. For years, they were together. Madumere was subservient to the governor almost to the point of irritation. His loyalty was beyond any understanding. Indeed, for his loyalty, he was derisively referred to as “Mrs Okorocha.” But he committed a cardinal sin by desiring to succeed the man he fondly called “My Oga.” Both gained from each other. He was thrown out. His salaries, allowances and entitlements were stopped. His aides were withdrawn. He became an outcast. But Madumere refused to give up. He had done nothing wrong. He weathered through the threats and deprivations, and continued with his quest.
The first sign that the rain has started beating Okorocha showed during the party congresses. He was outsmarted by this coalition of gentlemen. They pulled the rug from under his feet. The downfall has continued to progress from there.
He projected his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, to succeed him. He did everything to force him down the throat of the APC in the state. But the party spat him out, and rejected him. Okorocha was beaten in his own game. He complained to Abuja, and threw in everything he had. But his efforts were in vain. Uzodinma was endorsed. In a rare show of sportsmanship, other APC aspirants lined up behind Uzodinma.
Seeing that he had become a fish forcefully washed ashore by a turbulent sea, Okorocha remembered his plan B. Smart guy, some years back, he had founded a political party, the Action Alliance, A.A. He never abandoned even though he had jumped from PDP to APGA, and finally to the APC. It was his plan B. So, when APC shooed his son-in-law out, he shooed him into the AA, and made him the governorship candidate. It was desperation of the worst order. And it is that desperation that has brought his political house crumbling to an embarrassing low. He began to serve two masters, a most treacherous path to thread.
While mouthing the APC, and in custody of the party’s Senatorial ticket for Imo West, Okorocha is campaigning, frantically, for the AA governorship candidate. He swore he would never support the APC governorship candidate. Meaning that he is campaigning against his own party. And he did worse.
He got almost all the members of the Imo State House of Assembly, including the irritatingly subservient Speaker Acho Ihim, to decamp to the AA. And, the APC endured while the governor danced naked in the market square. But one gets tired of such dances, no matter how seductive. It hit the rock this other day when, in the presence of the wife of the Vice President, Dolapo Osinbajo, who represented First Lady, Aisha Buhari, at an APC women rally. There, Okorocha, surprisingly, embarked on his frenzy, naked dance.
He openly campaigned against the APC governorship candidate, Uzodinma, and endorsed the AA candidate, Nwosu. His supporters followed in his foot-steps. They embarked on the removal of Uzodinma’s posters while pasting Nwosu’s. A scuffle ensued. There were gun shots. But not to worry. Okorocha met his match that day in Uzodinma. His supporters were overwhelmed by Uzodinma’s. The rebuke from Mrs Buhari, through Mrs Osinbajo, was unmistakable. She urged APC supporters to ignore Okorocha and vote for all APC candidates. President Buhari, she disclosed, has since endorsed Uzodinma. Whoever advised Okorocha to use an APC platform to campaign for another party did him a great dis-service. It was a folly to use the campaign rally of a political party to campaign for another political party. Only Okorocha could have done that – and, in the presence of high profile dignitaries.
Since that folly and the First Lady’s rebuke, Okorocha has been lamenting and bemoaning his fate. And not a few people are laughing.
During one of his earlier lamentations, he accused some elements in the South-west and the North of working hard to scuttle his 2023 presidential ambition. See, after Imo, this guy wants to be Nigeria’s president! But it seems his lamentation will be in vain. Nobody cares. Everybody is just laughing. He does not seem to understand that even his senatorial ambition is in jeopardy. And if it crashes, his political relevance will become suspect – unless his son-in-law wins the governorship election. But, again, that’s a long shot.
If his suspension from the APC by the Imo state chapter stands, Nwosu’s victory will be a miracle. Not only is he facing very formidable opponents in Uzodinma, Ihedioha and Ararume, the federal might is being gradually withdrawn from him.
Life, at times, hits one below the belt. But I have an advice for Okorocha. A friend of mine who was dealth an unbelievable political blow told me his favourite Bible section is the Book of Job. In addition to recommending that to the governor, I also recommend the Book of Lamentations . Even though I read them, I’m not really enamoured with the books. But he may find some consolations therein; I do each time I’m at my lowest and most vulnerable.
Obi is the Editor-in-Chief/CEO of The Source (Magazine), https://thesourceng.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.