From the mouth of his deputy, Prince Eze Madumere, we heard that Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha is interested in contesting the 2015 presidential election. We heard that he might throw his hat into the ring to challenge for the highest position in the land. To his numerous admirers, especially those who have been hooked by the way and manner he dusted the PDP; incumbency, fixers, godfathers, money, intimidation, rigging and all in May 2011 to emerge Imo Governor, this is cheering news. Yes, it is particularly cheery to those who insist that Igbo have stayed so far away from the very vortex of power and need to get to the highest position in the land to compensate for their great role in building Nigeria despite the fact that they attempted to walk out in the early years of what is today seen as our flag independence.
For those that have watched with admiration these past two years, as Governor Okorocha records ground breaking achievements to rescue Imo from nearly thirty years of unmitigated decay, the decision to engage in the 2015 presidential contest, remains a laudable move worth their support. For most other Nigerians that have watched the way and manner Rochas has steered the Imo ship of state and how he had been navigating through the murky waters of Nigerian politics, his entry into the presidential race will add more colour and verve to the staid nature of the country’s politics. Yet, to others, his will sharpen the cleavages, project the aces and delineate the factors surrounding our national politics, especially as it concerns the state of Ndigbo in the nation’s political sphere..
Rochas is qualified to contest for the nation’s presidency. He is presently Imo State governor and he is not among those that emerged through the deft twisting of the shambolic electoral process to favour anointed sons. He is the opposite of what you will call the anointed son-the discarded son, you might say.. He pulled his political self up by his boot straps. In fact, he worked his bones out for his electoral victory. He stood against the elements; battled pre-ordained interests, weathered the Nigerian electoral tempest and mobilized the people around him to achieve electoral victory. Literally speaking, he was riding against the winds when he contested and won the governorship election. He is a free spirit that is least encumbered by the leash of godfathers. He is a man of his own world!
As a governor, he has put in a stellar performance to inscribe indelible imprimaturs in the dour Imo landscape. In the last two years, he has battled to tag alongside the immemorial Sam Mbakwe in the scanty pages of Imo golden book. He has leveraged his rescue touch mainly on such important sectors as infrastructure, education, tourism, agriculture, health, rural development, community governance, etc. He has fumigated the stench odour of rot and decay that endured in Imo prior to his coming such that Ndi Imo now see the possibilities that exist in the state as well as the difference that could be made from good intentions of the rulers of the state. For whatever it is worth, all corners of the state are breathing his rescue airs as a just reward for the Imo people’s defiant resistance against the tanks ranged against them in their insistence that their choice must count in 2011.
So, to me, nothing infringes on Rochas from contesting for the top job in the land. For his Ndigbo, it would even be a needed elixir to break the curse of tagging as despicable hewers of wood and fetchers of water for whoever is in power. Again, to most Igbo confederates, Rochas gladdens by electing to depart from the unproductive paths of the crop that now passes as the top deck of the Igbo political class when he decided to jettison the cat calls to join the sagging club of Igbo wayfarers in PDP who relish in playing as perpetual glorified ball boys to whoever and whatever race gets to the presidency and no more. From passing off as founders, fourteen years ago, Igbo in PDP has become nothing today as the presidency makes rounds among other ethnic groups. For fourteen years, Igbo have warmed the back role of complainants whose interests least matter to the buccaneers that determine who gets what and how in the PDP. Their investment in PDP these past fourteen years has yielded nothing but despair and ruin. Rochas wants none of these and has joined other progressives in Nigeria to midwife a progressive party that stands to end Nigeria’s woeful sojourn for fourteen years under a ravenous PDP leadership. He wants to be President of Nigeria under this progressive platform and that was what his Deputy confirmed recently in Abuja.
Given his soul lifting performance in the two years he has governed Imo, I will cast my votes for Rochas any day he contests any election. I will cast my vote for him and wish it multiplies a million fold whenever he contests for the Nigerian presidency. I will mobilize my little support in whatever manner is possible if and when he picks his party’s presidential ticket. I know that majority of Ndi Imo and indeed Ndi Igbo will cast their ballots for him, if for nothing, the way he had shown that Imo could be woken up from the doldrums and be made to work. I will cast my vote for a bigger office because, like the Biblical faithful servant, he had shown his capacity with little measures.
But, if I were Rochas Okorocha, I will not go into the 2015 presidential race. I will tarry and still continue the good work I am doing in Imo. If I were Rochas, I will re-contest for the 2015 Imo governorship and stake my chances on the superlative works I am doing in Imo these past two years. If I am Rochas, I will consolidate and widen the good works in Imo for every Imo man, in his picturesque mind, can discern what eight years of Okorocha will leave Imo with, using his two years, as a guiding light. If I were Rochas, I will deepen these acclaimed achievements, etch them deep in the recesses of every Imolite, far deeper than the rampaging political minions, ruing their painful rustication in 2011 and ready to deny even their mothers to improve their dawdy political fates, can reach. If I were Rochas Okorocha, I will hesitate to go to the center when my people still need more of my rescue touch, when Ndi Imo are savourinig the sweet flavours of his rehabilitative and creative mind. If I were Rochas, I will take between now and 2019 to build and implant the APC in all parts of Igboland. If I were Rochas, I will still stay in Owerri to ensure the restive political careerists whom he rusticated from power don’t steal themselves back to the common barn to loot and impoverish Imo silly. For nearly thirty years, Imo people pined and longed for a governor that will replicate the indelible footprints of Mbakwe. Through their determination and struggle, Rochas came. If I were him, I won’t leave too soon when the rots of the nearly thirty years that preceded his coming have not been completely mitigated. If I were Rochas, I will continue in Imo and root deep the present order that had seen perennial free loaders, speculators and money changers kept off the resources of the people which are now devoted to working for the people.
If i were Rochas, I will stay in Imo till free education is made a norm no government can revoke. If I were him, I will stay in Imo and ensure that the present fifteen kilometers of asphalted road per local government is widened to at least fifty kilometers per local government. If i were him, i will continue the frenetic erection of public structures and landmarks he had been doing in Imo, as he had been doing these past two years. If i were him, i will stay till 2019 to ensure that the 27 general hospitals in Imo State are made reference centers in health care delivery through a deliberate government policy to build such critical health facility. If i were Rochas, I will hang around to replicate the model 305 model primary schools in the state’s secondary education sector bu building equal or even greater number of such model secondary schools. If i were Rochas, I will stay in Imo till 2019 to ensure that the existing cities are expanded beyond their present capacity and the additional nine new cities he is planning are realized. Yes, Rochas has made quite an impressive showing in various sectors in the state these past two years but there still are many yearning areas he must touch and rescue. These are normal challenges that makes the existence of government necessary. He should stay around and attend to them and establish a template prospective wayfarers in governance would not dare to depart from.
All politics, they say, is local. Rochas will carve an un-putdownable niche in national politics by making Imo a model state in good governance. He cannot achieve this lofty feat in four years so he has to stay and fulfill this mission. He stands to carry this as a testimonial for a greater role at the national level by 2019. He stands to mobilize even his political opponents and enemies by what he achieves in Imo in eight years than what he achieves in four years. While he has the right and indeed, the right attitude to contest for the nation’s presidency in 2015, he should be well aware of the fact that Imo needs him to stick around till 2019 when he is expected to banish the very specter of negative development that has been native in Imo between 1983 and 2011. I believe a majority of Imo people share this view. Of course, i will vote for him in whatever capacity he asks for our votes in the future just because of what he had done in two years in Imo and what he promises to do in the next two years. But, if i were him, I will stay in Imo and consolidate the works he is doing at present for no ends will be served if he goes to the center while Imo regresses to the sad and forlorn state it was before he came. I hope and dearly prays he hearkens to this wish and prayer.
Peter Claver Oparah.