SINCE the return of democracy in Nigeria in 1999, Imo State has had three Executive State Governors (the Ex, the Incumbent). Each of them bore a name, as it is customary in Africa to give and have such in order to make credible impressions on the nominalist inclined populace and purport being guided by the philosophies revolving round the non-pragmatic tag. Within these twelve years, man has assumed deity; a godification in which the mortal, the most corrupt and debased mankind assumed deity; a deification wherein the self-ambitious man claimed theistic mission, roles and names.
Imo has thus been graced with a redeemer (redemption), a focal turner (New Face) and a saviour (on Rescue mission). These were men; while the first and third nominally assumed theistic and christic salvific functions and roles, the second remained within the social values and societal paradigmatic shifts (while also placing Imo in the hands of God).
All these are past now but inalienable links of our common historic and heritage without which constant reference, we remain a sailing wild-dove. Today, we have one on Rescue Mission. The name even makes one suffocate in laughter. Last week, in a travel trip, I encountered an Imolite returning from Belgium, we idled our journey-time with the socio-theological and linguistic implications of “Rescue Mission”. Rescue in French certainly means (sauvetage)- to save, for instance from accident; it means (secours)- to render relieving help; it also means (sauver)- to save from a dangerous difficult situation.
No one doubts being on a mission but being sent by who, to save, which determines the authenticity and reliability of the rescue claim. The Psalmist (91:2-4) says of the one on Rescue Mission (the redeemer in whom the helpless finds protection) to be a refuge and trustworthy fortress for the subjects. The ancient Roman linguists had it, “Quoniam ipse liberebit te de laqueo venantium et a verbo maligno; alis suis obumbrabit tibi, et sub pennas eius confugies” (He rescues you from the snares of the fowler who seeks to destroy you; he covers you with his pinions and under his wings you will find refuge).
The major tasks of a rescuer are to first save (by intervention) and then providing protective coverage, which the rescued finally finds refuge in. This sounds like a pulpit speech but it’s prompted by the theistic and socio-theological language associated with the idea of “Rescue Mission” or the Redemption of old. Imo people originally believed in Okorocha’s Rescue Mission because of the initial promise that the Rescue Mission will save the State from the snares of the fowlers (perhaps, the past administrations in mind).
The unemployed and underemployed expected rescue, the Primary School pupils (who till today have 3-5 teachers per rural area schools and whose learning environments like in Oguta LGA are worse than the zoo at Umualum Nekede,(just take a look around sample schools as those seen along the express road of Awo Omama (Onitsha/Owerri Road) are tired of being patient. Children are feeling stuffy with the smoke of waiting for the promised school uniforms and #120 stipends. Light has finally gone like in the days of military administration.
The already employed are demissioned by dint of antics en guise of sanitizing the purported administrative anomalies of the previous administration. Committees and Parastatals are set up today, dissolved tomorrow like the Adapalm. Even the rescuers are entrapped in helplessness on the road from Senator Arthur Nzeribe’s Haven of Peace to Ndionyemaobi junction in Egbuoma where the present SIG hails from, a road worse than those of Shoel.
As soon as Okorocha was declared Governor-elect, Chief Ikedi Ohakim extended an olive branch to Okorocha and promised not to contest the declared victory in the Court. Owelle Rochas Okorocha entertained both himself and the masses (hailing his victory with boundless imaginative excess), with a spree-diatribe on how the then Incumbent Gov Ohakim mismanaged Imo wealth, wasting 150 million Naira daily on frivolities which was a lie; promising to slash down the State’s security votes to 50-75%, etc.
These notwithstanding, the Imo Rescuer completely went gaga with the joys of victory and doggedly pursued a vendetta mission. He immediately freezed the State’s account, disabling the Incumbent Gov Ohakim from paying both the last two months salaries of his appointees and the severance packages of the apex public servants. He dissolved all standing Commissions, Agencies, Committees and Boards, as well as the Local Government Councils and the Imo State Traditional Rulers Executive Council led by HRH Eze Cletus Ilomuanya. These were followed by the 10,000 jobs, the newly recognized autonomous communities.
In these, the wise were apprehensive of imminent vindictiveness while the feeble minded like the Apostles of Christ after his Ascension dreamed of a Christic cleansing of dealers in the Temple.
The Rescuer certainly must exhibit a certain degree of force that surpasses that that ensnares the rescued subjects in order to save them from the very danger and protect them against further incursion. In warring parties, the rescuing force quickly seeks for peace talks and reconciliation of the warring parties. Knowing that all the subjects are one, both the agitators and the privileged are carried along in peace talks and in almost every circumstance, sanity returns after dialogue and sacrifices.
But the State Governor’s Rescue Mission and the subjects’ circumstances are quite different. He is the father of the State, (even though about two-fifth of the State’s population may be older than him) who took an Oath of Office to abide by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Law itself is never vindictive or discriminatory, neither is the Oath of Office taken a mere formality. Sir Thomas More during his trial in 1532 noted that, “when a man takes an Oath, he’s holding his own self [his soul, the Image of God in man] in his own hands”.
Gubernatorial election in a State is neither a contest to produce a hero nor a battle between arch-enemies. It is the depraved mindsets in elections as contests for heroes that pave way to the idea of the winner and his group takes all while the looser and his forces loose all; thus the quest for the emergence of the hero. The English legal luminary, Sir Thomas More, observed that, “if we lived in a State where virtue was profitable, common sense would make us good, and greed won’t make us saintly. And we’d live like animals or angels in the happy land that needs no heroes”.
Gradually, Gov Okorocha has finally thrown in the towel of gentlemanism. On Monday October 17, 2011, the local tabloids of Imo State bore the news that Gov Okorocha paid 50% of the statutory severance packages of selected lawmakers of the past state legislature. It was said that he paid 14 out of the 27 members of the just concluded House of Assembly their statutory severance entitlements, leaving 13 members, which are Rt. Hon GoodLuck Opiah’s group.
It was also alleged that few months ago, Gov Okorocha reached an illegal pact with these 14 lawmakers to carry the unconstitutional impeachment of Rt Hon GoodLuck Opiah and the then Gov Ohakim, and promised them of political appointments in return (which administratively is his constitutional right). But the illegal discrimination of 14 out of the 27 lawmakers brings up the argument on the idea and reality of justice, equity and respect of the rule of law. Paying 14 while starving 13, is pure vindictiveness than justice; a perfect testimony of a chronic serpent of long memory that now embarks on a vendetta than rescue mission.
Prior to His Excellency’s State broadcast, which announced the suspension of the 10,000 jobs, the beneficiaries of the job embarked on a peaceful demonstration to the Government House. Gov Okorocha’s first speech while addressing them (in the characteristic broad-open teeth of Mobutu Sese Seko) was, “afterall how many of you voted me”. Though mild and jovial in mood, but authoritatively said, such speech comes from Sir Thomas More’s hero than the father of the state.
It was a proceed of long memory, perhaps the conservative Igbo man he is (a High Chief, traditionally recognized), he is inclined to “Onya laa, apa ya ka di”- after the wounds are healed, the scars remain). It was a euphemist manner of saying, “afterall, all of you voted for Ohakim and not me during the just concluded elections; now I’ve got you, I will deal with you”, which he said and meant. What happened to these various categories of Imo citizens under the past administration because of Okorocha’s vendetta may also happen to those presently enjoying him as bag carriers.
To great somewhat, the spree-diatribe and vindictive antics of Gov Okorocha since the instant of the declaration, could be interpreted as gladiatorial antics of one who by frolics and injustice made it to the seat, and thus exerts malicious vendetta that signals “we’re now equals at last”. This joy of unexpected triumph (orchestrated by the internal political wrangling of some hungry power seeking PDP stalwarts who reneged on their party), goes back to testify that Gov Okorocha never won the April 26, 2011 gubernatorial election in Imo State.
The revelation from the ongoing Imo State Guber Tribunal with regards to the raw votes cast for the general gubernatorial contestants in the State, shows that Ohakim obtained the highest number of the electorate’s votes on the date the legal gubernatorial election was conducted in the State. The fact that the ongoing State Gubernatorial Tribunal tends to Ohakim’s favour, which in truth’s undiluted and nude nature is unquestionable that Ohakim won the election and if the April 26, 2011 legal date for the gubernatorial election is inconclusive because of the neck-to-neck gap, even the supplementary election held on May 6, 2011, remains also inconclusive since Oguta that has the registered voting capacity that exceeds the led-gap of Okorocha over Ohakim, had no election till date. Because of this tilt of favour to Ohakim’s side in the Tribunal, the Vindicating Play-gods have cooked up a new slur that Chief Ikedi Ohakim is compiling names of his cabinet in wait of the anticipated triumph in the electoral tribunal.
Some ten months ago, the masses were made by the hired media to believe that the then Gov Ohakim was arrogant and unaccommodating because he fought against godfatherism and the paying of loyalties to political deities. Now we’ve the desired Messiah, the Rescuer, favouritism and nepotism rule; public servants are denied of their legal and statutory rights by the vindictive rescuer while the innocent citizens suffer the brunt of the fell and rise strives of the dueling two elephants. The rescuer who during his inauguration as State Governor declared that, “Why God gave me eyes in front is for me to look forward and not backward. I’ve no time to witch-hunt anybody,…” has overnight grown eyes backward to read the annals and chronicles recorded by the secretarial serpent of long memory. The evil in this Vendetta (than Rescue) Mission as an official government policy and administrative style, is that by its proclivity, Imo will certainly institutionalize a culturized vicious circle
Written by: Prof. Nathan Uzoma Protus