Nzeribe’s Hobbesian Imo.

Keen followers of political events would have been startled by the recent re-entry into the nation’s contemporary politics of maverick politician, Senator Francis Arthur Nzeribe. In a very well publicized media chat, Nzeribe who has been politically docile for sometime now, took liberty to offer opinion on sundry national issues.


The former senator challenged elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, to tell Nigerians all he knows about the sponsors of the Boko Haram sect while berating President Jonathan for not implementing the recommendations of the National Judicial Council to reinstate Justice Ayo Salami. He equally had very unkind words for his state governor, Rochas Okorocha, for failing to reinstate the 27 local government Chairmen as directed by the Court of Appeal, among others.


The first thing that will strike those who have followed the antecedents of Nzeribe is his comments on the proposed impeachment of the president, especially because of his very unenviable track in that regard. He had described as “an effort in futility” the threat by the House of Representatives arguing that with the high level of corruption in the system, it will be impossible for any serious-minded legislature to implement the threat. He should know better, having been famous for his dexterity in the gale of impeachment threats that marked his previous tenures in the Senate.


It may not even be surprising if he has a role in the unfolding saga in view of his experience of the game. Perhaps, his comments on Boko Haram, impeachment of the president and the reinstatement of Justice Salami were largely designed to attract national attention. But beneath that seemingly national fervour, was their deployment as a very convenient entry point to get even with those he saw as having stood on the way to his interest in the Oguta local government council in the last couple of months or so.


That could explain why he devoted copious time to events in Imo state which he claimed may degenerate into a Hobbesian jungle. According to Nzeribe, the state is groaning under a rudderless leadership and may sink deeper with the ‘cowardice’ of those who should ordinarily speak against the slide. From the above, the impression given by Nzeribe is that his comments (nay unfounded) are designed to serve the general good of Imo state. The picture he has painted is that Imo is sinking and the leadership there is visionless and inactive. Far from it! This is more so, when much of the claims bandied are clearly at variance with extant facts.


What signs are there in Imo State that compares with the atavism of the state of nature as Nzeribe would seek to hoodwink and deceive the public? If the truth must be told, his interest is in the Oguta local council where his wife holds sway. Having been sent out of office in the last couple months, there is everything to expect that the development must have brought serious reverses to the fortunes of the Nzeribes. It is, therefore, not surprising that he has taken refuge under the court ruling to bandy false alarm against the state for very personal reasons.


The truth of the matter is that the foreboding scenario which he bandied for obviously self-serving reasons does not exist in the state. There has not been anything either remotely or otherwise to point to the possibility of a threat to law and order in the state. From where, therefore, did Nzeribe invent his imaginary state of nature characterized by the war of man against man? His grouse is with the inability, before now, of the state government to reinstate the sacked local government chairmen. But, they had since resumed even as their term of office has just expired. Even at that, their fate cannot lead to the awful scenario painted by Nzeribe.


If anything, the people of the state view the re-emergence of Nzeribeand his co-travelers as a distraction to the peace and tranquility that have reigned supreme since Okorocha assumed the mantle of leadership.

Nzeribe belongs to the class of politicians that has pushed the state to its knees since inception without anything positive to show for it. He has represented the state at least thrice in the Senate without attracting a single constituency project for the Imo West Senatorial District he represented. His foray in the Senate was more of a political liability as he deployed it for self-serving ends sometimes sabotaging the collective interests of his constituents. Does such a person possess the moral right to posture as an apostle of good governance? Definitely no! Rather than rudderless, Imo people have, in the last one year or so, for the first time been experiencing a very active, ambitious and very eager to perform regime. The projects initiated by that administration both those completed and the on-going ones have exposed the inadequacies of the last regime in the state.


It is, indeed, a big surprise that so much can be achieved in one year in terms of infrastructural development. This feat has continued to evoke questions and comparison with the immediate past regime which, after four years, could not post any single serious project to advantage. If Nzeribe could not talk when that regime was deceiving the people with phony projects, if he could not talk when that government was assaulting the collective sensibilities of the Imo people; if the bazaar of loans and bonds that was the order of the day then without the projects for which they were obtained taking off the ground could go unchallenged, wherein is Nzeribe’s patriotism? Why did this later day saint close his prying eyes to the wonder project called Oguta Wonder Lake Resort sited at his backyard, for which a loan of N40 billion was obtained by the last regime without anything to show for it. That loan still runs till 2016.


It could not have been out of omission that Nzeribe said nothing and did nothing when the bazaar was on. Even as Okorocha is paying back those suffocating loans that could not deliver any project, his achievements on ground in the last one year have been so phenomenal for Nzeribe to have noticed if he is really conversant with subsisting realities in the state. How could he have seen the disaster called Oguta Wonder Lake Resort with his obsession to cajole and lure the last government to have his wife as the Chairman of that local council? Why did he not speak out when that government was obviously sinking to the extent the people of the state had to resort to self help by voting it out at the election in spite of every attempt by the Nzeribes to foist it back?


These are the posers that expose the deceit in his recent posturing in respect of affairs in the state. He said he has maintained silence since Okorocha took over. Why not, especially given the disgrace his party suffered at the last election. With that defeat, he could not have been speaking for anybody except, perhaps, himself. The issue here is that Nzeribe is not coming to equity with clean hands in this matter and cannot ascribe to himself the conscience of the Imo people.

We should, therefore, do what is right by dismissing his recent tantrums as the burden of a politician out there to seek undeserved relevance. It will amount to de-odorizing such a person to have him get away with an undeserving ascription.

Jideofor Chiemeka  





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