Any Tears For Okorocha?
April 1st of every year has a remarkable feature. It has been a date set aside for the April Fools’ Day. Traditionally, the date has been set aside for an occasion of playing tricks. Though, it has been an annual ritual of spreading hoaxes where the jokes and victims are known as April Fools.
For social media activists, especially the Facebookplayers of Imo State extraction, what dominated the blogsphere on April 1, 2019 was the fabricated report of Imo State Governor, Owelle Rocha Okorocha receiving the Certificate of Return from the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as the winner of the Imo West Senatorial zone contest.
The outgoing Governor ran for the race under the All Progressive Congress, APC otherwise known as Orlu zone. At the end of the election he was declared winner.
However, the victory party of Okorocha was short-lived as INEC reeled out decision to refuse the governor Certificate of Return over claims by the electoral officer in charge of announcing the result that it was done under duress.
According to the Returning Officer, Prof Ibeanusi, he allegedly declared the Okorocha result under duress, the electoral body said is in contrast to the rules of the election.
Dissatisfied by INEC’s decision, Okorocha rushed to an Abuja High Court to demand for an order asking to be issued with the Certificate of Return. While the judge is yet to give final judgment, other contenders who are in the race for the senatorial seat have also joined the suit as stakeholders.
It was not surprising that the early parts of Monday April 1st, 2019, the ever robust social media platform operated by Imolites was abuzz with a taunt of the governor that he had received INEC Certificate of Return.
To discerning minds who have followed politics of the state in recent past, the big question on the lips of many is why would a household name wearing a humongous fame in Imo become a subject for comic relief among his people?
Okorocha’s gargantuan prolife within the state he bestride for almost eight years has witnessed a jolt since the 2019 general election was concluded. However, no sympathy is coming the way of the governor when it was discovered that his administration was yet to issue elected councilors and chairmen of the 27 LGAs their Certificate of Return after the LGA elections held in August last year. Six months after, no official certificate to show he conducted LGA polls through the Imo State Independent Electoral Commission, ISIEC.
Apart from the misfortune trailing his senate contest, the adopted successor for Imo State Government House, Uche Nwosu failed the election. After Nwosu incidentally failed to grab the ticket of Okorocha’s APC party, the governor didn’t hesitate to transfer state support for him in AA where majority of his appointees and followers moved into the party for the just concluded elections. Since the election has been won and lost, tales of woes have not failed to be on the side of the governor noted for receiving a deafening chants of “My Governor, My Governor” from the masses anytime he thunders “My People, My People” at public functions.
Within splits seconds after it became clearer that the PDP candidate and Governor-Elect, Emeka Ihedioha was ahead of his adopted candidate Nwosu during the March 9, collation and announcement of results from the LGAs, vestiges belonging to him and the son in-law scattered on the streets of the state capital and beyond were destroyed. Major outdoor signposts got removed even as security agencies took over business outfits of the Okorocha family members for protection of lives and property. At his palatial Spibat Estate private residence near the state capital, hordes of soldiers and policemen took over to ward off unwanted attacks suggesting that his cult figure has waned. If anyone had predicated to the governor that none of his colourful billboards including that of Nwosu decorating Owerri metropolis and environ would not remain standing at their vintage positions before he vacates office, he would have accused the person of suffering from overflow of Iberiberism.
The governor’s outward movement has not only reduced drastically as he is no longer spotted on the roads and streets with blaring sirens oozing from convoy cars. But it is becoming evidently clear that Okorocha has stealthy relocated to Abuja leaving governance and official government activities at lowest ebb.
Unlike his initial trademark of gathering the people for talk-shows after major events like the elections, his break lights are no longer spotted at the mega event centre of the state government called Imo International Conference Centre, in the heart of the state capital.
Direful signals that calamity may have befallen Okorocha manifested last week Friday when he failed to grace the occasion of inauguration of Board Chairman and Members of the Parastatals and Government Agencies in the state. Unlike his traditional fashion of using such public functions to test run his fading popularity, the governor was conspicuously absent which sent tongues wagging that the outcome of the election has made mincemeat of the governor.
Instead, Secretary to the State Government, Mark Uchendu performed the task. A synopsis of the present nightmare Okorocha is going through can be encapsulated in what transpired on Friday, April 5, 2019 at Akabo, Ikeduru LGA at the burial venue of former federal lawmaker, Bethel Amadi.
Unlike in the past when the governor’s entrance into such gathering was heralded by thunderous shouts of “Owelle”, “Owelle” his title identity, sublime jeers and boos from those present characterized his presence, showing a loss of popularity on the side of the masses. The traditional gestures performed by people to welcome him at public function was greatly missed at the last public appearance. Only few dignitaries who couldn’t avoid a traditional handshake managed to exchange banters with him.
To worsen the pitiable look of Okorocha, the presiding cleric of the Anglican Communion of Ikeduru Diocese refused to grant him chance to speak at the event.
In the past, such grade A events do not end without the governor having a grip of the microphone to address the gathering. Protocol demands he is the last to speak on such occasions. The congregation who had expected to hear Okorocha address people at least for the first time after public appearance since the polls ended got disappointed from the officiating ministers who placed embargo on public speeches.
Only recently, the governor and his followers have turned “new wailers in town” Following the activities of the Governor elect, Ihedioha to hit the ground running ahead his swearing in on May 29, Okorocha has been crying out by accusing his successor-in-waiting of usurping functions without waiting for the official date of handover.
Okorocha in a press statement issued on Tuesday complained how Ihedioha is impersonating him by allegedly functioning as Chief Executive Officer while his tenure is not yet over. The governor’s lamentation may not be unconnected to the two committees the governor elect raised ahead his swearing in as well as issuance of notice to financial institutions doing business with the outgoing government to be mindful of their dealings. Also, Ihedioha raised the alarm of looting of government property including warnings against Issuance of Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) of lands belonging to the state.
The crying Okorocha can be said to a victim of memory loss if events that preceded his entrance into Government House, Owerri are recorded.
Immediately after Okorocha was announced winner in 2011, he wrote a letter to banks asking them to stop further transactions with the then outgoing Ikedi Ohakim administration. Banks obeyed his instructions as the incoming governor. Subsequently, allowances and severance benefits due to the appointees of Ohakim for the month of March and April of year 2001were not paid till date. The double disaster that befell Okorocha could have been averted if he listened to wise counsel from his followers who kicked against foisting his son in-law on Imolites as successor. The followers and greater Imolites challenged the action but Okorocha kept deaf ears.
From all indications, irony of fate is playing out against Okorocha who had threatened to retire several politicians from the state’s political hemisphere. No soothsayer needs to forecast the outgoing governor is the one on retirement list for now.