WHY GOV.OHAKIM FAILED!!
BY HENRY OSUAGWU
The story of Governor Ikedi Ohakim is the story of one whose palm kernel was being cracked by benevolent spirits and instead of being grateful to the gods turned out like nza the bird who after a sumptuous meal of pounded yam challenged his chi (personal god) to a wrestling match. The voting out of Governor Ohakim from power did not come to those who have been following his political career with keen interest.
Ikedi Ohakim started out as a commissioner for commerce in the short-lived government of Evan Enwerem in 1991. When Abacha and co made the republic ill-fated, he disappeared into oblivion. The return of democracy in 1999 never factored him in and he only laid claim to being a publisher of many books, which he only told us when he became governor in 2007. Young and full of ambition, he had his political romance with the then governor of Abia state, Orji Uzor Kalu, who many believed helped him to keep body and soul together. So in ordinary parlance, before fate and circumstance combined to thrust him on Imo people, he was doing ‘menial’ jobs, running errands just to keep life and limb going
Then 2007. Imo state, known for its political renegade became tired of the inability of the ruling PDP to fulfill its electoral promises and was looking for an alternative platform. But the truth was that without the implosion of PDP, where it rose against itself by forces even the party had no control over, the people of Imo would not have had any powers to vote it out because that was the era of Obasanjo and his accomplice Maurice Iwu. The PDP was torn apart to the extent that the then President Obasanjo came to Owerri to denounce the party’s candidate, Senator Ifeanyi Ararume and was quoted to have said many unprintable things about the fair-complexioned senator.
Iwu having done so many hatchet jobs for Obasanjo was said to have demanded for a hefty compensation in the form of allowing him to unilaterally nominating who would be the next governor of the state. Basing his argument on the strong zoning arrangement in the state, Iwu went for one of his kinsmen in one obscure party in the state, the Peoples Progressive Alliance, PPA. There are jokes in Imo that when Ohakim toyed with the idea of contesting governorship of Imo state in 2007, he did not have up to fifty thousand Naira in his bank account. (whoever investigated this). But this was to drive home to people how impossible it would have been for him to win a free and fair election.
In order to realize his ambition of single handedly installing the governor of the state, Iwu in violation of the 2006 electoral act, cancelled the election held on the 14 April 2007, where it was widely believed that the candidate of APGA in that election, Martins Agbaso won. He rescheduled a sham of an election two weeks later, on the 28 April and declared Ohakim his kinsman the governor. In order to preclude the court from voiding the election, the former INEC boss denied Agbaso’s lawyers access to the materials used in conducting the first election.
In compensation, Iwu’s younger brother was made the SSG, his daughter a special assistant on administration and his son-in-law the DG of Ohakims phantom project, the Imo Rural Roads Maintenance Agency, IRROMA.
Many factors accounted for Governor Ohakim’s tragic end politically, but two are most outstanding. First, he is like the proverbial Ozo title holder, who never dreamed of being an ozo title holder. So when eventually he was given the ozo title, he raced to the market square naked. Never in his widest imagination did he know he would be the governor of Imo state so when he became one by default, he wanted to flaunt it. He confronted every perceived and imagined political enemy. He even went as far as creating many for himself.
In no time he fell out with the one man that installed and sustained the fraud of his election, Maurice Iwu. He started building a political structure without putting into account the political culture of the people neither did he make reference to past governors of neighbouring states who tried and failed. He stretched his political ambition beyond pardonable reasoning. He looked down on anybody, became proud, encouraged many of his supposed political allies to resign their appointments and contest for positions, only for him to turn around and put an insurmountable obstacle in their ways.
Take the example of Mrs Chinwe Nze Ozichukwu, wife of former national vice chairman south east of the PDP. The husband is one of the pillars that stood behind the faltering political footsteps of the governor. She was a commissioner for works in Ohakims cabinet and she was encouraged to resign her appointment to go and contest the senatorial seat of Okigwe zone on the platform the PDP. While the woman joyously accepted the encouragement from the governor, she never knew that the governor had his eyes fixed on that same seat in 2015. Not wanting any stiff opposition in 2015, the governor back tracked, encouraged Ambassador Mathew Nwagwu, a very old diplomat who apparently would not resist the governor in four years time on account of old age to go for the same seat. The retired diplomat got the seat eventually.He was said to have fallen out with Iwu because he blatantly refused to support the professor’s younger brother for the ticket of Okigwe zone senatorial ticket on the platform of PDP. Meanwhile, he was the same person who encouraged the younger Iwu to resign as SSG and go for the seat.
Ohakim’s second undoing was not believing the President Jonathan. Since the president assumed office a little over a year ago, he never hid his burning desire to make our electoral process right. He has ceased every possible opportunity whether at home and abroad to drum it in the ears of those who cared to hear. But Ohakim did not listen and therefore did not hear. The president went further to appoint Professor Attahiru Jega against the wishes of rigging whiz kids in the ruling PDP, still Ohakim did not see this as a shift from the old ways. He remained adamant. If he only had believed Mr President, he would have readjusted, mended his ways and reduced the number and quantity of his political foes. He was still living in the Maurice Iwu era where even before voting finished taking place, results had been announced from Zambezi Crescent in Maitama, Abuja.
It would have been an unexplainable perfidy if Governor Ohakim was re-elected. Never has a leader been so despised by those he is leading. At a point, if you spoke to 10 ordinary Imo people, nine and a half wanted the governor‘s scalp. So it would really have been an irreconcilable situation if such a governor who was so hated was at the same time voted back into office by the same people who so hated him.
At a point during the campaigns, the governor’s close aides confided in few ears that the man was only grandstanding. That he knew he had no chances of re-election. Then he began to clutch to some straws for political survival. Unfortunately for him, such straws are man-made and could not help him in any way. At this point, his campaign was based on zoning and the appeal to people like Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, former President Obasanjo and a host of other political liabilities whose antecedents the smart people of Imo detest.
In his zoning clamour, he sought to divide a people that nothing really divides them. Imo state, homogenous in tribe, linguistic and religion; the elite of the state try as much as they could to divide them along tin indistinguishable lines of political geography otherwise known as senatorial zones. Come to think of it, does that old market woman in Njaba or that poor farmer in Ohaji, know that there is a place called Okigwe zone. Does she even know that the person at Government House in Owerri is not one of her own? The rural dwellers for whom governance should be targeted at are not bothered about who is there, rather than access to fertilizer, the cost of food in the market, access to portable drinking water, good roads, etc. But politicians in their vile nature would always want to create rifts and schisms where none existed.
When the straw of zoning failed to work, the ousted governor resorted to hiring those he mistook as political heavyweights whereas in actual fact, they are just bantam weight. Emmanuel Iwuanyawu, Olusegun Obasanjo, Celestine Illomuanya and many other discredited traditional rulers. The question is, in a place like Imo where the electorate can distinguish between his left hand from his right hand, do you need all these liabilities to win election? Of what political worth is Obasanjo in Imo where the Action Congress of Nigeria mercilessly trounced him in his Ogun state? Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, who is more of a political leech in the state since its creation cannot even convince two village market women. As for the traditional rulers, the Igbo society in the first place was not even structured in a ruler servant situation. So any reliance on them for any political capital was bound to end disastrously.So you can see that the governor was headed for the rocks ab-initio.
The tragedy of Ohakim’s loss is that unlike in Kano where Kwakwanso bounced back after eight years in political wilderness, Imo people are not known for forgiving political sins so easily. Once they have made up their minds to punish you and sever all political ties with any political sinner, it remains like that. This makes the fate of the man who renamed himself ikiri very pathetic.