Please don’t be surprised, if Governor Rochas Okorocha has still not read your piece of May 3, 2012 titled “Okorocha the Magician” and he might never read it. If his aides persist, he will take a very cursory look at it and tell them “eh, what is wrong with what the man (meaning you) wrote?” They will shrug or stare at him and proceed to the next matter. I am close enough to this governor/government to know this. He believes that paying too much attention to the media and columnists could be a distraction.
Segun, do you know that if you had written any such article against the immediate past governor of Imo State, Mr. Ikedi Ohakim, your publisher would have been phoned one million times with allegations about how you collected money from the fabled political opponents and detractors to undermine the governor? They will call Eni-B, they will call everybody that is somebody in THISDAY; they will call your pastor and your wife to warn you, then they will unleash all manner of paid advertisements, articles and publications to refute and scandalize you; you will finally be declared an enemy of Imo State. Threatening text messages will deluge your phone while sundry hate mails will flood your email box.
I have been a close watcher of the Okorocha Administration in Imo state and I will be the first to say that truly his, is “government so unusual”. I have also called him a magician to his face, yes he is my friend. I quickly add that as excited as I am about the incredible developmental leaps and unbelievable infrastructural transformation Okorocha is undertaking in Imo, there is a compelling need to go by the books, but Okorocha is one of the most innovative minds I have encountered, he constantly thinks outside the box. I have spoken to his close aides that we must rein him in and ensure processes no matter the good intentions the governor has.
May be I should take us back in time to probably capture why an ordinarily maverick Okorocha is now driven to compulsive haste and unbridled multifaceted projects development. The truth is he met a legacy of billboards, lies and propaganda; he inherited a disillusioned populace, suspicious of government and hungry for projects on the ground not on billboards, radio, television and newspapers. The people wanted to see a government in action and these demands rhymed excellently with a passionately populist politician like Okorocha.
What Okorocha is doing in Imo and what his actions have engendered is a complete paradox in Nigerian Political Leadership. Now take this: In almost all the states of the Federation and even outside Nigeria, the people are always complaining that they do not know or cannot see what their governments are doing with all their money. But in today’s Imo State, friends and foes are wondering how the government will be able to pay for all the projects and programmes they are witnessing. If this is not a paradigm shift; please show me one.
In today’s Imo State, the people wake up and see a newly constructed school within 48 hours, yes forty eight hours! Okorocha uses prefabricated concrete slabs moves into a site and in less than 48 hours you are seeing a 48 room school building. It is almost unbelievable if it wasn’t palpable. The man has no time for rhetoric, I do not particularly like his apparent disinclination to engage or even relate with the media because this is turning some of the Owerri-based journalists who are more used to previous government’s “lubrication” to report hostile and negative things about the state, for example exaggerating the security situation in the state. I desire a more media sensitive Okorocha administration even as it is a big relief from the immediate past government which had more journalists on its pay roll than many major media houses.
I want to fully endorse what you wrote when you said:
“But Okorocha is not without redemption as he is also a passionate man. I guess that is why he wants to achieve results quickly. But he must also realize that this is a democracy where planning, transparency and processes are also important for him to leave any lasting legacy. He cannot continue to run his administration by whims as is the case right now”.
You also wrote: “There is no doubt that Governor Okorocha came to office with a popular mandate and I believe he is in haste to make a difference in his state. But to do so, he must understand that running a government requires having in place, proper structures which will enable him to promote transparency and accountability”.
Okorocha prophesies prosperity to Imo people. As an Imo Son, I am truly happy that our governor is working, I am truly happy that we can go home without fear of molestation by agents of government. As an Imo Son, it is refreshing to see the joy on the faces of Imo people when you accompany Rochas to inspect his projects; it is amazing. Okorocha has something like a magic wand as he has been able to produce solid dividends from state assets that had been cash cows to “government pikins” who stole all the funds in the past. For example, Okorocha leased the Imo Palm Plantation (Ada Palm) which hitherto had not brought any money to the state purse for 10 years and earned almost N5 Billion as revenue to the state.
Okorocha is unorthodox, he hates red tape, he decries the rigour of protocols but I agree that this is government and we who are around him must continue to try to ensure he realizes this fact. In his hunger and thirst to do good and make a mark he sees our efforts as capable of slowing him down; he is work in progress and we too. The Imo people staged a revolution on 6thof May 2011 when they voted out a desperate, hated government, you needed to have seen the jubilation and ecstasy in Imo State and amongst Imo/Igbo people worldwide. For them, it was an end to lying and propaganda and they desired as their prize a government that will care and provide all that they had lacked; they craved development, they put all these expectations on Okorocha’s head. He is only trying to justify, satisfy and manifest the people’s prayers.
Written By Eziokwubu Ndu