Owelle’s birthday celebrations; simply the priorities of an emperor. – Dr.Kelechi Okpalake.

· Retired Imo State primary school teachers have yet to receive a penny of their pension since January 2012.

· ASUU – Imo State University Chapter are on the brink of an industrial action and their primary grievance being the non – implementation of their previously obtained collective bargaining agreement.

· Employees of Imo State University teaching hospital are not regularly paid as when due, and when paid complain about unexplainable deduction from their salaries, that amounts to Five thousand (N5,000) naira for such lowly employees in salary level grade 04.

· Imo State law students in the various law schools of the Nation are bitterly complaining of the non-payment of their bursary since the advent of the Rescue Government of Owelle Rochas Okorocha.

· Just recently, the news of the denial of accreditation to courses offered by the Imo State University by NUC was reported by a Local Newspaper.

· In less than seventeen months, Imo State has been transformed and reduced from the height of being the cleanest of the states under the previous administration’s Clean and Green Initiative to just filth and garbage.

· It is now eight months or more since all contractors abandoned their construction sites for non-payment of earned certificates, leaving the state in a sorry state.

· Civil servants in the state are moaning and groaning every day for non-payment of their allowances and delays in even the payment of their salaries. Some civil servants are saying that the approved minimum wage was not completely implemented as agreed.

· In September, just last month, a local newspaper reported the sacking of over forty (40) employees of Imo MDG.

· The free tertiary education promised by the Governor to commence in September is yet to commence as promised and September has come and gone.

· Two very important local governments of Imo State in terms of oil and food production saw the devastating floods of 2012 ravage their crops and properties, and displace them from their homes.

The above list of the challenges of Imo State and her people are not exhaustive. Despite these facts, the Governor of Imo State embarked on a two week celebration of his 50th birthday that stretched across three countries and two continents. This birthday celebration started in the United States, from where it moved to South Africa, where the Governor celebrated with some members of Imo House of Assembly, and the Grande Finale took place at the Heroes Square with such personalities as the Former Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe Morgan Tsvangari, and other known personalities on October 8th 2012. The preparation for this grand occasion was responsible for the inability of the Governor to take salute at the October 1st Independence March past, instead the governor deputized his deputy, Sir Jude Agbaso for the Role which is traditionally one of the primary functions of a Governor of a State.

While this elaborate celebrations were planned, organized and executed, over 30 communities in Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta Local Government were submerged in flood by the incessant rains of 2012, and the crops of the Farmers of these communities wiped out. Until this day, October 21st 2012, the Governor have yet to even pay a visit to these communities in order to identify with the plight of his fellow Imolites in extreme distress.

The actions of our Governor in celebrating his birthday and the elaborate nature of the celebration prompted the asking of the question: Is Owelle’s Birthday Celebration the actions of a Constitutional Governor or the conduct of a crowned prince in planning his coronation celebrations?

From all indications based on the factual conduct of our Governor, his declaration by INEC as the Governor elect on May 6th 2011 meant his declaration as a crowned prince. Normally, declaration of anybody as a Governor-elect does not confer any constitutional powers. But upon the declaration of Owelle as the Governor elect of Imo State he arrogated to himself the powers of a crowned prince which he manifested in directing his chief of staff to be, to forward a letter to all Banks doing business with the state to freeze all state accounts. Since the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria does not give a Governor elect any powers until his taking of the Oath of office, the powers exercised by the letter to Banks must be that of a crowned prince and not a Governor – elect. Consequently the swearing-in upon which the Oath of office was administered on May 29 only symbolized the conferment of the office of acting Emperor to Owelle Anayochukwu Okorocha.

For any crowned prince and an acting Emperor, the singular most important focus becomes his coronation and its attendant celebration, which was what we all saw and witnessed in the 50th birthday celebration of Owelle Anayochukwu Okorocha. The priority of an acting emperor is markedly different from that of an elected Governor. A Governor’s focus is on the governed, while the focus of an emperor is on himself. This is because while the people remain the sovereign in a democratic state, the sovereign in an imperial Government is the Emperor. It is therefore not surprising nor strange that while the above listed challenges of Imo State persists, the focus of Owelle was his symbolic birthday celebration which in realty was planned as his coronation and its attendant celebrations.

In celebrating a coronation of an emperor, no cost is speared. In essence, cost is usually the worry of mere mortals but an emperor enjoys divine ordination so cost is not of circumstance.

There is an eerie, but uncanny resemblance between the events in Imo State today and the events in Central African Republic under emperor Bokassa.

Bokassa, the Son of a village chief, rose through the ranks of the military to become the chief of Army staff by the help of his cousin President David Dacko. As the Chief of Army Staff, Bokassa planned and executed the overthrow of his cousin the President to become the President or head of State of Central African Republic. Upon assuming the office of the head of State, he jettisoned the constitution and rendered the parliament redundant. This action was really precursor to his coronation as an emperor. In planning his coronation no cost was speared. It was reported in French newspapers at the time that the estimated cost of his coronation and celebrations was twenty million ($20m) dollars, in a country ravaged by poverty.

He imported school uniform from abroad further impoverishing the tailors in the country. His excesses depleted the country’s treasury prompting him to mandate that every school child must purchase the imported school uniforms. When the school children protested the forced purchase of imported school uniforms, over 100 young students were killed in detention through torture never before known by the people of Central Africa. He even changed the name of Central African Republic, to Central African Kingdom on his coronation. The outrage occasioned by the torture and deaths of over hundred students led the French to orchestrate a coup that saw his cousin the Former President returned to power. Bokassa went on exile to France and in a private conversation with a French journalist, Bokassa said, “He was an emperor, as such his wishes expressed by his words were law to be executed by the state because he was the sovereign”.

Owelle Rochas Okorocha exhibits the same character traits like emperor Bokassa above, at least, in his official functions and conduct. He has rendered the Imo parliament redundant, and waged a serious battle to stop the swearing-in of a new lawmaker in the name of Hon. Dibiagwu. His symbolic coronation as the emperor of Imo is been estimated to have engulped over one billion naira from the State’s treasury at the most trying financial times in Imo. Law students bursary are not being paid, workers are being laid off, salaries are irregular, allowance are not being paid, tailors are hungry and looking for jobs, while the State Government spends millions of naira exporting Imo State jobs abroad in the guise of free education.

While an argument may be made that at least the Governor did not mandate payment of the school uniforms by each individual students this argument may not be completely true. Because while each individual student is not mandated to pay for these uniforms, the people of Imo State are paying for it by salary deductions as is currently experienced by staff of IMSITH, the various illegal taxations of the Government through its so called commercialization policy, law students are contribution in this payment by the denial of the bursary payments, and so on and sp forth.

Owelle’s 50th birthday celebration is therefore, simply the priority of a would be emperor, and now that his coronation has been made official with all pomp and ceremony, lets hope that he attends to the affairs of the State like a compassionate emperor and not a tyrannical one. For this, we must all join hands and return Imo back to the hands of God, for only squarely in God’s hands, will Imo be better.

BY: DR. K.C. OKPALAEKE

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