“Never again shall Imo State celebrate mediocrity and evil. Never again shall Imo State celebrate evil men. This Government shall celebrate excellence. Those are the people our children should look up to as role models, not criminals, not fraudsters, not fraudsters, not any more”.
Those were the words of the Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha in his maiden State of Imo address. Passion was found a fitting crown on this seeming promise but undoubtedly herculean in its realization. It was rebuffed by a section of the public seeing it as one of those planks usually used as a hedge to achieving popularity among politicians.
Blaming every a man who would have considered such statement an illusory may not sound too firm considering what it was and what it in our dear country. Despite bringing into being the anti-corruption institutions in the country, we have had our value system relegated to the barest minimum. What that statement may have meant was an affront to the establishment and some assumed crowned king makers of Imo State. What nonsense! What arrogance!! Let’s watch and see what this guy of a Governor has up sleeves!!!
Except some few un-cultural cultures of our people, Nigeria’s Nations and Igbo Nation in particular are known for their strict belief and adherence to high moral standards in the society. We know about how our ancestors had frowned at mediocrity and evil. This had led them into fighting evil with evil. At this point, they had made evil meet with evil. Of course some evil were met with instant death. Please don’t ask me question if I want such fiendish practice back because my answer is already deciphered in my thought expressed herein.
Please forgive adoption of the above syllogism. I was only being a Mata Hari to your probing and wondering minds.
At issue is what lesson can we learn from late Ikemba Ojukwu’s exit? At issue is not how Ojukwu was celebrated but why was he so eulogized and celebrated by all. The core of this discourse is the “Role Model” and its real meaning to the present generation and the ones yet unborn.
True, Ikemba Odumegwu Ojukwu, Eze gburugburu of Ndi Igbo may not have been a saint. Yes, he was never a god but may have been planted in our minds as a man who came, exploited, explored unreservedly and finally delivered, not necessarily to some people’s expectation, but ended gloriously. That glory covered the other side of Ikemba.
Cross culturally, we have our reserved areas and areas we regard as universal cultural. So it is with values we bring into reckoning while passing value laden judgements on lives led by ‘our leaders’. Discounting human traditional fallible nature and imperfections, Ikemba Ojukwu was adjudged one of the greatest men if not the greatest since the amalgam of what is called Nigeria today was brokered. For me, what he means to other tribes, nations and other countries’ matter but not to the extent I hold that of what he means to his Igbo brethren. Ndi Igbo are known as republicans as it were. That is their nature. Drawing there from, it becomes difficult for accepting a one king in a man.
These generous and whole hearted acceptance given to late Ikemba, even as he was found a larger figure at death, showed holistic acceptance by Ndi Igbo. His vision, sacrifice, “forthrightness”, detribalized nature and his figure of peace were eventually understood and appreciated by all. The account of his prowess in management of human and material resources has become a case study. His humane nature and heart of sacrifice have been applauded by many. His unwavering stance in what he believed remains an issue. Ikemba Ojukwu’s obstinacy for Justice even as a Nigerian Soldier revealed his finesse and purity of thought. For a personality found not wanting in the differing facets is undoubtedly a role model.
For Owelle Rochas Okorocha, a renowned Charity mogul, to make real his promise of celebrating excellence, he started from building an edifice in honour Ikemba Odumegwu Ojukwu while he was still living. He promised an institutionalized Imo Hall of Fame mainly for those who have made Ndi Imo and the entire Igbo Nation proud.
That is a great impartation of moral value. It suffices that a standing ovation for rich criminals has hit a rock. Sing praising the money-miss-road who had sent many to their early graves traceable to their inordinate ambition can no longer hold. The centre square for adulation of mediocrity and plundering of the public good has become old fashion.
Late Dee Sam Onunaka Mbakwe of blessed memory has been fingered as one of the post mortem beneficiaries. After Dee Sam and Chief Michael Okpara, the former Governors of Imo State Eastern Region respectively, who were largely acknowledged as performers with their legacies still trailing their past, then who else? Where are the role models? Then where do we look for encouragement? Who shall we look up to?
True, we have many of them amid us but who cares and gives a hoot about them? That is the essence of Imo Hall of Fame. That is the essence of Ojukwu Convention centre and that is the meaning of Ojukwu’s statute. That is the essence of immortalizing a cherished personality.
Looking at the beauteous arena with its corresponding beatific with Ikemba Ojukwu Square inscribed and engraved at the gigantic-monument like designed gates. A place of dream is Ikemba Ojukwu Square. A visit at night unveils a South Eastern model of Paris and its aesthetics at night. Ikemba Ojukwu Square is a place where natural trees especially special species of whistling palms snatching off sleep from weary eyes and heavy eye lids with its rays from its regalia of white lights growing with its branches. Then, the grasses found around the lawns look just healthy green with its well fed arc dangling leaves.
At the entrance of the Square from Port-Harcourt Road are welcoming winking lights exhumed by the Road itself, guarding every motorist and pedestrians safely around it at night. Housed by the Ojukwu Square are highly improved Commissioner’s quarters which had hitherto been left to grow spirogyra and other reptiles and miscreants’ friendly species of weeds. Also found within this paradise of a sort is the imposing magnificent Heroes’ Square with over six thousand seating capacity with a VIP section.
Abuja for once would be wondering such a humbling emergence that made a caricature of its own Eagle square. For me the estate of lust that lies prostrate along the East of the Square remains a paradise of men with reservation. The North is also the cozy late Former Governor of Imo State’s legacy, Dee Sam Mbakwe, Imo Concorde Hotel with other structural fascinations made possible by the visionary Owelle Rochas Okorocha.
My dear readers, I was only lost in what a determined beautiful mind could do in Governance and to make it even envious is the decision to name that a place after a person. My question is why? It is in appreciation of a role model who had left a foot print in the sands of time. But that foot print was not selfish and was never deceitful. It was a mind that went for justice, fought for justice, stood by justice, took the shame for re-integration of a people, ate a humble pie for the Unity of Nigeria and in appreciation by a visionary leader, a committed leader, a courageous and a mind of sacrifice in Owelle Rochas Okorocha named it after that hero who will live for ages – Ikemba Odumegwu Ojukwu, the worthy role model for the future leaders.
Prince Eze Madumere, the Chief of Staff to Imo State Governor responding to the issue of Owelle Rochas Okorocha’s Rescue Mission Agenda’s decision to so honour Ojukwu even before his death, his words:
“Today, the youth can no longer look far to find their role models. They have been admonished to challenge the achievements of great leaders.
They also have physical things raised in honour of excellence in all facets of life in memoriam of our great leaders who had eschewed depravity but showed emulating attitude.
That they may be celebrated like their heroes past, they can now point at concrete things showing that the only thing we shall be remembered for, for good, is our good deeds”.
Governor Okorocha has also admonished the people of Imo State not to over praise. He averred he would rather appreciate it better when he is pointed at for his good legacies.
Borrowing from Emmanuel Babayaro’s sweet track titled ‘Role Model’ taking over the airwaves; please quickly go ask for it, he talked about being the mirror with which others can draw inspiration. Actually, how have we carried on in our little corner and in the public? What are we worth? For me role modeling is a life time career for every living sole except in a lunatic condition.
“Be it known to all men that we shall pass through this way but once. If therefore there is anything we can do to promote peace, justice, unity and good governance in order to save the lives of the numerous poor Igbos while protecting the interest of the few rich, let us do it NOW; for we shall not pass through this way again”. Owelle Rochas Okorocha
Late Ikemba Odumegwu Ojukwu had done his best, on the day of our death, what shall we be remembered for.
That is my message.
Written by: Uche Onwuchekwa