By Kizito Duru (9News Nigeria)
Imo blogosphere was on Tuesday evening littered with news emanating from Abuja on the arrest of the immediate past governor of Imo State, Sentator Rochas Okorocha, by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in his Abuja home. This is even before his spin doctors and media manipulators could set the narrative that the lawmaker was routinely invited and not arrested by the EFCC.
Be it an arrest or invitation, what was obvious is that the majority of Imo people, judging by their comments, were elated that Okorocha was to undergo Question and Answer session with the anti graft agency. Many Imo people considered the grilling of the former Governor as a little long overdue.
Posts, comments and reactions that trailed news of Okorocha’s arrest told a story of a man whose excessive greed for acquisition of properties and wealth was well noted by the people.
Even his apologists, ostensibly pricked by their conscience, lacked the courage to condemn the arrest. But they had to say something, no matter how senseless it was, to justify whatever they take home at the end of the month else their loyalty is questioned. Hence they came up with a watery argument of every past governor of Imo State since 1999 being invited by the EFCC.
Their argument was that since it has become a norm for former governors of Imo State to be invited by the EFFC, Okorocha’s arrest should not make news.
But that was not a valid argument.
The issue was not really the arrest of the loquacious Okorocha but the wild jubilation that followed it. It pointed to something sinister – something that was even known to Okorocha’s supporters. Imo people want to see their former governor sufficiently probed and thoroughly tried and if found guilty jailed.
Those calling for his prosecution are not only members of the opposition party in the State. Even within Okorocha’s political party the APC, not a few are in support of efforts to recover alleged looted properties of Imo in Okorocha’s possession and his subsequent trial in a court of competent jurisdiction. Such is the height of Okorocha’s atrocities.
Put together, Achike Udenwa and Ikedi Ohakim didn’t illegally acquire as much properties as Okorocha and his family did, that is if the duo acquired any illegal property.
Having seen that the narrative of Okorocha not being the first and only former governor of the State to be on EFCC radar, his propagandists decided to trade emotional blackmail by claiming that Okorocha was being witch hunted to demoralise him and his ambition to run for the country’s presidential seat in 2023.
They argued that Okorocha’s political enemies were out to destroy his goodwill and give him more distractions than he can handle as 2023 approaches. They even appealed to ndị Igbo generally and Imo people in particular to resist attempts made by Okorocha’s enemies to stop Igbo presidency in 2023.
Their claims are not only ridiculous but hogwash. Various panels of enquiry set up by Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha had indicted Okorocha and sternly recommended his trial. Okorocha’s arrest is not close to having any ethnic colouration. Okorocha is not even in the picture of those likely to become presidential standard bearers of either the APC or the PDP. Okorocha arrest by the EFCC is a fight against corruption and untold greed.
As Ike Okoro rightly intervened in his comment on one of my posts on this issue, it is also a fight against evil. He wrote: “And it is a fight against evil. Greed is evil. Okorocha is a monumentally greedy man. It is a fight against mediocrity. Reward must follow work. When people get rewarded for doing nothing, you enthrone decadence, mediocrity and destroy a culture of merit.
Not rewarding work, is to place a culture on a downward precipice. Imo state must rise up and do everything possible to arrest this mindset of seeking reward without work. Imo must enthrone a culture of delayed gratification. Inordinate display of wealth by those in government who are entrusted with guidance of a commonwealth, is a cancer. It eats away slowly and overtime destroys the foundations of a culture and people.
“That’s what Okorocha was doing. He must be held to account. And let the young people learn that we are all in a chain of holders of our culture. We must pass on the values and have the next generation hold and pass on these values. These values are character, honesty, work, merit. Simple but solid pillars of a progressive society.
Every leader at any level ought to be a role model in act and manner. Okorocha ain’t a role model.”
It should not be regarded as gainsaying that Okorocha’s reign as governor is an unfortunate occurrence which the living, the dead and ancestors of the Imo State wish never happened. His ignominious rule headed Imo backwards to the dark ages, and within the period in review, sister states, Anambra and Ebonyi have well overtaken her economically, developmentally and otherwise.
It dawned on everyone in Nigeria and the world that Imo was set on regression the day this great emperor was pronounced governor in 2011.
For the eight years Okorocha, Imo State received hundreds of billions from monthly federal government allocations, 13% oil derivation fund, bail out funds, excess crude account, Paris club loan refund, et al but there is little or nothing to show for it. In fact, the state accrued more debts than development.
The roads in Owerri were one of the worst in the country. No solid agricultural program. There was no trace of any industry or factory built by the Okorocha’s administration even as it was the mantra for his reelection.
Imo air and Imo rice exist only on the internet. Simply put, Okorocha was out to ruin the state and he succeeded in doing that, what the country will not do is to watch him go scot-free. Yes, we want EFCC to take Okorocha’s trial seriously with a view to giving Imo people justice.