By Ifeanyi Maduako
Former Governor Rochas Okorocha was a presidential aspirant in 2003, 2007, and 2015. His entrance into the national convention of the defunct All People Party (APP) in 2002 was tumultuous and electrifying.
The dull and somber atmosphere of the convention was electrified to the peak when he sauntered in a glistering limousine. He was contesting for the presidential ticket of APP with the likes of then General Muhammadu Buhari, late Chuba Okadigbo, among others. Even delegates from the north who were there to vote for Buhari were all entertained by his mode of entrance into the convention.
It took a man with Buhari’s popularity to defeat him for the presidential ticket. The same Buhari went ahead to spite him by choosing Dr. Okadigbo as his running mate rather than him.
Okorocha returned to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) after the disappointment to contest again for the presidential ticket of PDP with late president Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2007. Of course, he came second position again behind Yar’Adua who was the anointed one by the then party apparatchik. His third attempt at the presidency of Nigeria was in 2015 on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC) where he came a distant fourth position in the primaries – his worst in his presidential quest.
Against the background of his previous presidential ambition to preside over the affairs of Nigeria, the predominant majority of Imo people nay Nigerians were surprised when he “stooped low” to contest again for the governorship position of Imo State in 2011.
When he finally had his first electoral victory on the platform of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) as governor of Imo State, the world had expected that he would use the “lower” office of a governor to show Nigerians and the world at large a model of governance he had been aspiring to bequeath to Nigeria as President. The “small” office of the governorship of Imo State exposed the character and the underbelly of Okorocha.
Many held him in a very high esteem and integrity before he became governor. He had a better esteem before 2011 than now. He deceived Imolites with a sweet or sugar-coated tongue. Majority of Imolites including this writer voted for him in 2011 with the erroneous belief that a messiah had birthed to fix the state. We were all deceived.
Alas, after his stewardship as the governor of Imo State, Rochas failed woefully and abysmally. He may not be the worst governor the state since her creation in 1976, but he had a golden opportunity to demonstrate to Nigerians, particularly Imolites why he had wanted to be the president of Nigeria even before “condescending” to become a governor.
Late Chief Sam Onunaka Mbakwe still retains the trophy as the best governor of Imo State till date unless incumbent Governor Hope Uzodinma surpasses Mbakwe’s performance after his eight years as governor, God willing. Rochas had the golden opportunity of surpassing Mbakwe’s achievements, after all, Mbakwe governed a bigger or larger Imo State which comprised the present Imo, Abia and half of Ebonyi States.
Sadly, even with a smaller Imo State, Okorocha failed to take the trophy from Mbakwe. Yes, Okorocha opened up or constructed many feeder roads in the state more than his predecessors. But, is there any road that Okorocha constructed that is still in good shape today? Is it a good testament of him that all the roads he built have broken down just one year after he left office? Many of these roads became dilapidated even while he was still in office. You can never see such kind of roads in other states like Anambra, Akwa-Ibom, Enugu, Cross River, Rivers States and even “common” Ebonyi State of yesterday.
People who attack the incumbent Governor Uzodinma over the present state of Imo roads are unfair and unreasonable. How do they expect him to fix all the roads in less than a year as governor?
Do they expect him to build the kind of roads Okorocha built which breakdown every six months? The anger and frustrations of Imolites over the sorry state of Imo roads should be channeled to Okorocha.
Students of Imo State University Teaching Hospital, Orlu are utterly frustrated having spent about 14 to 15 years as medical students for a course which ordinarily shouldn’t go for more than six or seven years due to non-accreditation of their course. But, Rochas was acquiring licenses for more universities even a day to the end of his tenure. His so- called free education was a charade. A deceit of the worst order.
What manner of a governor would erect 27 uncompleted buildings as general hospitals instead of just three completed and well equipped hospitals, one for each senatorial district? What manner of a governor would owe 48 months pension arrears to pensioners and still beats his chest to boast that he performed well as governor? How does Okorocha feel whenever he drives through Imo International Convention Centre (IICC) seeing its dilapidation? Which of Okorocha’s touted projects is still standing strong? In the next ten years, would any of his projects still be in existence unlike Mbakwe’s Concorde Hotel, ADAPALM, Avutu Poultry, etc?
Okorocha is my kinsman because both of us are from the same local government area. But, can Okorocha be proud to visit his community or is there even any road to his community? Is he proud of the state of Ideato-South LGA? Can Okorocha compare the roads in Mbaise where Chief Emeka Ihedioha comes from with those of Ideato nation as a whole? If Okorocha is the only man APC can find in the whole of Igbo-land as a presidential candidate, then let northerners rule Nigeria forever.
However, he is never the only candidate APC can find in Igbo-land. There is a lot of qualified candidates from both APC and PDP to be the president of Nigeria from the South-east.
Maduako, writes from Owerri (08061562735).