Frustrations of volunteer media professionals in Imo State- By John I. Mgbe

In  keeping with its timetable which was rolled out a few months ago, the membership registration of the All Peoples Congress (APC) has just kicked  off. As Imo Rescue Volunteer media professionals, we have waited on the commencement of this exercise with interest. To the Imo rescue volunteer media professionals, the APC registration exercise is a very important event because it is a critical factor in our continued collaboration and partnership to Governor Okorocha in the way we report and slant our political analyses. The label Imo Rescue Volunteer Media Professionals refer to those media professionals who constituted the backbone of media support for the actualization of the 2011 governorship agenda of Owelle Rochas Okorocha. In   one of my viewpoints entitled “Imo 2011 Election: Why we supported regime change”, I gave reasons why we rallied behind Owelle Okorocha in his bid to become governor.

It was not on account of his wealth, political sagacity or exceptional qualities. Rather, as I tried to explain in that viewpoint, we supported Owelle Okorocha in the battle for regime change because majority of Ndimo had the belief that Ikedi Ohakim’s Administration had become a monumental and systemic failure, a classic case of a failed government.

Please Goggle that viewpoint and read online. While other governorship hopefuls fled the state out of fear of Chief Ohakim, Owelle Okorocha was the only politician who had the courage to confront Ikedi Ohakim in his den. He was the only politician who was prepared to beard the lion in its den.Initially, we did not take Okorocha seriously because there was a mindset that the governorship slot must go to an Okigwe politician.

Incidentally, Okigwe politicians who were interested in the Government House went into hiding because of the fear of their brother, Ikedi Ohakim.

When it became clear that Chief Ikedi Ohakim was the only cock crowing in the governorship race, we reluctantly turned our attention in the direction of Owelle Rochas Okorocha . He was the only opposition voice in the wilderness. At a point, we even discovered that Owelle was so militant and combative that even the former hyperactive Governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, was afraid of him. It was at this point the Rescue Media Volunteers threw their weight around him. In the long run, Owelle   Okorocha was declared Governor at the end of the 2011 governorship election.

Since his inauguration as governor on May 29th, 2011, Governor Okorocha has never cared to bother about the political party or the group of media professionals who stood by him in the battle front. In his first appointment of Exco members, he brought in over 100 appointees; most of those who manned the various portfolios in his Administration were people who were not very visible as supporters of the governor during the electioneering.

Some of them were pulled from the Nollywood while others came from Ariaria market, Aba, yet some were recruited from foreign radio channels in the great cities of the world including all manner of people who  held top positions  including comedians  and the like. While they occupied big portfolios in the media segment of the Okorocha Administration, they never wrote even any viewpoints or rebuttals in support of the government they were serving.

In spite of this provocation, we remained loyal and supportive of Governor Okorocha because one does not pull down a house built by one. Having facilitated his epic victory, we failed obliged to provide him with the requisite media logistics to enable him   overwhelm his political opponents who were frantically closing in on him. Our continued loyalty to Governor Okorocha is anchored on the fact that the umbilical cord that links us to him is the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), the party through which Owelle Okorocha became governor after over twelve years of failed efforts to win an election victory. Everything we did for Owelle Okorocha was done on the basis of volunteerism. We never asked for food, money or any form of gratifications.

Sometime in 2013, we were shocked to hear Governor Okorocha announce severally at various fora that “APGA is dead; APGA is a cultural union, a non-Governmental    organization (NGO)”. The shock came to its Zenith when he announced that he had defected to All Progressives Congress (APC).In spite of these  announcement from Gov. Okorocha, we remained loyal to him as we continued to give him favourable reportage on the Press- print, online and the like.

Since we are not card–carrying members of APGA, we did not bother to ask why Okorocha declared APGA dead before defecting to APC. We regarded his comments as mere anti-party activities for which we, as media professionals, should not bother about.After all, the APGA leadership did not remember us when thy were sharing the spoils of office  after the election victory.

Our major grouse is not that Okorocha defected to APC but rather because he described APGA as dead. Even while we were in the season of 2011 electioneering, I made it clear to others that Owelle Okorocha would not stay up to six months in APGA before defecting to PDP. I was very sure that he would abandon APGA; so, when it happened, I was not surprised at all but rather my grouse was on his describing the party in negative terms. His oft-repeated labelling of APGA as a dead cultural Union/Non Governmental Organization is very unfair and portrays him as an ungrateful human being.

Before he joined APGA, Owelle had crisscrossed through about four political parties. He did not kill any of those political parties before he abandoned them .He simply abandoned those parties with some dignity but in the case of APGA, he described the party as a dead cultural union/Non Governmental Organization (NGO).A few days ago, he even described the  APGA as a cock which is only good for a Christmas meal. One of his aides went further to state that APGA was killed last December when its symbol, THE COCK, was killed and consumed as menu for Christmas ceremony.

In spite of everything, I still saw Okorocha as a member of APGA. To me, he was an APGA member who was deeply involved in anti- party activities. In spite of this vexatious statements, we remained faithful to Governor Okorocha .A few days ago, the media networks were abuzz with reports that Okorocha and his disciples had finally registered  as members of All Progressives Party(APC). We monitored the registration exercise with interest and from our findings; it is safe to conclude that Governor Okorocha is now a member of APC. It hurts that after all the risks taken to facilitate his victory, Governor Okorocha simply bolted away from the homestead without the simple courtesy of holding a session with the numerous Imo Rescue Volunteers in order to explain that he was defecting to another political party. He would have expressed his gratitude to them for their efforts in actualizing his governorship project and then appeal to them to join him in his new party. I am quite sure that majority of the people would have wished him well in his new party.

To whom much is given, much is expected. A governor who benefitted so much from people’s act of volunteerism would not have ignored the same group while defecting to another party. Those who know Owelle Okorocha well should have known that he is not the type that can pitch his permanent tent in any one political party. Even now, Governor Okorocha is not in APC for live; soon, he will move to another political party and he may even engage in reverse gear and embrace PDP in the long run. So, we have not heard the last on Okorocha’s defection saga; it’s a continuum. Once again, our grouse is not that he decamped to APC, but rather because he decided to kill the APGA before abandoning it. This is unfair, more so, since he did not kill any of the several parties he belonged before leaving them. Even, his own political party which he formed, ACTION ALLIANCE, is still alive and well today.

 It is the zenith of ingratitude to manifest such scorn, indifference and contempt on a political party/groups that facilitated your election victory, more so, after you have been in desperate search of an election victory for over a decade. The way to thank God for using some people and APGA to facilitate your victory is not to mount the rostrum and pour tirades on the APGA and its leaders. It rankles and smacks of a lack of humility. While leaving the APGA, Governor Okorocha simply quit them out of the State office and hoisted the flags of his new found party APC, thus leaving the APGA stranded.

As a Governor, could he not have held a banquet with the APGA and the various volunteers who worked for him in the electioneering period to announce to them that he had decided to decamp to the APC. At the end of the banquet , he would then announce that he would pay the rent on the APGA State Secretariat upfront to 2015 and that the party should retain the  state office as his own contribution to  show his  gratitude to the party and  the various volunteers who used the APGA platform to  support him. This is a practical show of appreciation and humility which would have  given hin him political mileage.

With this token gesture, he would have tactically shot a silver bullet that would have impelled us to join him in his newfound party.Yes, if Governor Okorocha had performed this simple gesture of goodwill to the APGA and volunteer fans, the banquet Hall would have been a vale of tears from the numerous volunteers who would have wept inconsolably in bidding him farewell to his new party. After all, as stated earlier, we supported Okorocha in 2011 for the sole purpose of using him to sack his predecessor; Chief Ikedi Ohakim.We did not join his governorship project because of his fabled wealth and prosperity. I want to state without any fear of contradiction that if money was the attraction, we would have got so much of it from Governor Ikedi Ohakim who was spending as if money was going out of fashion. As volunteers, we did not expect monetary gains but selfless service. So, Owelle Okorocha was a pampered politician who had everything done for him free of cost, hence he does not know the risks people took for his sake. So, it is painful that after all the risks, all we now hear is that “APGA DID NOT MAKE ME GOVERNOR; APGA is a dead party, a cultural union”.

A few days ago, he was celebrating the victory of Chief Okwu over Victor Umeh in a High Court case, even when the ruling of the Court of Appeal on the issue has not been set aside. This is unfair. Why should our governor be rejoicing on the grounds of the political crises in a party that gave him a platform to become governor. Yet, it was this Sir Victor Umeh and the National EXCO who imposed him on the APGA in Imo State. As a journalist who was deeply embedded in APGA Media Centre during the 2011 campaigns, I am aware that it was the Sir Victor Umeh-led National EXCO that facilitated his being given a platform to fly the banner of APGA in the governorship poll. But today, Owelle Okorocha celebrates the so-called fall of Sir Victor Umeh. The case involving Sir Victor Umeh and Chief Okwu is still in the courts; so, it’s premature for Governor Okorocha or anybody to be celebrating what they call” the fall of Umeh”.Even, if in the most unlikely event, Sir Umeh loses finally in the court, it will still be repugnant to good conscience for Governor Okorocha to describe his fall as a “Divine Intervention”.

 Governor Okorocha’s unguarded attacks on the top elite of the APGA are embarrassing to most of us who were deeply involved as volunteers in Okorocha 2011 project. While addressing the press after he returned from a long sojourn abroad recently, Governor Okorocha said that NDI Anambra and Governor Peter Obi were the causes of the political crises of Ndigbo in Nigeria. As a State Governor and national Chairman of the Governors’ Forum of his party (APC), Governor Okorocha would not have been the one to make such an unprovoked attack on Governor Peter Obi and NDI ANAMBRA, a sister state in the South East Zone. If such an indictment was ever necessary, there are so many of his political aides who would have been used to make such an embarrassing comment, not the governor himself. Since some of his aides had made such comments in their newspaper columns before him, it was not necessary for him to amplify the message. Those in high political positions should talk with caution and foresight. It is my opinion that neither NDI ANAMBRA nor Governor Peter Obi deserves such unguarded jeremiad from a person of the status of a State Governor.

Perhaps, it is pertinent to make a passing comment on the impeachment of Sir Jude Agbaso, the former Deputy Governor, who was impeached under some doubtful circumstances.

That episode leaves a sour taste in the mouth, more so, considering the synergy that would have ordinarily existed between the elder brother to Sir Jude, Chief Martin Agbaso, and Governor Okorocha. Well, I may not shed tears for APGA because when the early signs of abandonment by GOV Okorocha manifested, I drew the attention of some bigwigs of APGA to the unfolding problem and advised they should talk with Okorocha but they said all was well.

Since the impeachment case is in court, I refuse to discuss it elaborately because it is sub judice. A similar thing happened in the United States in 1974- that- is when President Richard Nixon, the 37th President of the United States, swiftly resigned as President in order to escape impeachment over the Watergate Scandal. He was replaced by his Vice President, Gerald Ford. The first Presidential decision of President Gerald Ford was to grant Nixon a full pardon for any crimes he might have committed while in office. I am aware that in that case, President NIXON resigned because of guilt but in the case of Sir Jude Agbaso, the anti-graft agency, EFCC, has declared him innocent of any financial scam. So, he may not even accept a pardon, since he has not violated any law. By granting pardon to Richard Nixon, the crises were resolved to the satisfaction of all the parties. No party was celebrating the misfortune of any group member. That is how the matter was  amicably resolved to the satisfaction of  all the parties. In Akwa Ibom State, the then Deputy Governor, Engineer Chris Ekpenyong, was impeached but the impeachment was later converted to resignation. So, how about resolving this issue amicably by converting Sir Jude Agbaso’s impeachment to resignation. I advise Governor Okorocha and the Agbasos to,   as a matter of urgency, take this matter out of court  in order to resolve the impasse through administrative fiat.

This will do Governor Okorocha some good. Often what you get in the court is judgment and not justice. It is very sad and despicable that the great relationship and synergy between Governor Okorocha and Chief Martin Agbaso has plummeted and nosedived. No genuine Imo Rescue Volunteer will be happy about this sad development. In spite of our frustrations at the sudden turn of events in our Rescue Imo Family, I commend Governor Okorocha on his giant strides in the past thirty months. However, his indifference and cavalier approach to those who stood by him at the hour of political distress does not augur well for his political future. A politician like him who has been so richly endowed and blest by Providence should desist from the habit of celebrating the downfall or political challenges of others, more so, those who contributed to his political rise. I want to conclude this piece by advising that in a true democracy, rule of law is supreme and sovereign.

What we desire in Imo State is a true democratic rule and not the dictatorship of the rule of law or Rule by Law which now obtains. It was this thirst or quest for rule of law that impelled us to move against the former Governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim and this mass movement culminated in his ignominious defeat at the polls in 2011.So, we are still hungry for true democracy. In a democracy any achievement that does not conform to rule of law is of nuisance law. It was the great scholar, George Santayana, who once said that:” Those who do not remember the past are condemned to making the same mistakes”. May this not be the portion of our governor, Owelle Okorocha.

Community Government Council Election for March 1st.I have been told that Government has scheduled a CGC election on the Ist March 2014.We do not need this election now in Imo State. It is provocative that at a time when other states are holding Local Government Elections, we are talking of a CGC election. The Governor had told the world that there would be LG election in IMO State in March this year and we are waiting for the fulfillment of this gubernatorial pronouncement.

All over the world, cost of holding elections is very prohibitive. We do not have to waste our scarce resources in holding a nondescript election at this point in time. Since the government wants to run a CGC, it should go ahead to appoint those who will work in those communities. Since the other political parties are not interested in the CGC job, there is no need for frittering away huge amount in conducting a CGC election when the governor is at liberty to fill the positions with appointment. May Providence give our governor the wisdom to think positively because the future is bumpy and only those who act with caution, diligence and circumspection can have the coveted crown of glory in 2015.

JOHN MGBE
08032722897

It was Socroes who once said that a life that cannot be reviewed is not worth living . So, if Governor Okorocha eventually registers as a member of APC, it will be necessary to take a second look at our intimate relationship with him and administration, During the electioneering of 2011, I worked closely with chief Kenneth Ewelu(now commissioner) Lolo Ogoke (Commissioner and TC Chairman), Dr. Hillary Eke(DG)  Rochas Foundation) and several others.

The members of Rescue Imo Volunteers (media unit) want to ascertain the factors that coeminated in Owelle Okorocha’s indifference and disclaim in the volunteers who took raise for the actualization of his governorship bid. So, we are vigilante as the registration exercise progresses. The Klieg lights are on and the official registration of Owelle as APC member will be received with mix feeling and ramification. I conclude this piece by referring to my viewpoint entitled.” may this mega merger not submerger Okorocha and APGA”. Please Google the headline and read online

JOHN I. MGBE

 

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