“Imo State Governor-elect, Chief Rochas Okorocha, has restated his commitment to rescue the state, even as he declared that he is in a hurry to deliver the services to the people who massively elected him to serve”…**
Nigerians are never short on hyperbole but by any standards a commitment to “rescue the state” and to “deliver the services” are massive statements to make.
Imo State in Nigeria (Owerri is its capital) is known as the “land of hope” which hitherto is all it has had to offer to the 5.2 million people that make up its population since it came into existence in 1976.
Chief Okorocha of APGA (All Progressive Grand Alliance) was sworn into office on May 29th after twelve years of PDP (People Democratic Party) misrule first by Chief Udenwa and then by the most recent incumbent of office, Chief Ohakim. This is truly an example of people power; for in Nigeria to unseat the incumbent is no mean feat. All the mechanism of the state and federal, power, money and influence are usually behind the current person in seat, and although Igbos can be very vocal when push comes to shove, they have learned the hard way that it is best normally to retreat behind one another and therefore allow the status quo.
Ghosts of the civil war
The Nigerian civil war has left a massive specter on the Igbos’ psyche. For three years between 1967-1970 they fought for life and liberty as the “secessionists” stood up for themselves in an era when literally, the Northern dominated political and military elite attempted to commit genocide on a peace-loving people.
Under the direction of General “Ikemba” Ojuwkwu (who was then the governor of the East) the Igbo fought for survival and the right to autonomy and self governance, and set up the country called Biafra. But this was to no avail as the Nigerian national army, supported by many world powers including USSR (Soviet Union including Russia) USA, United Kingdom, GDR (East Germany) Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Egypt, poured arms and military intelligence into the national cause in order to preserve their own national interests (access to oil and commerce.)
At the end of the war the cry was “no victor, no vanquished” as the government tried to heal the wounds and build a country from the erstwhile civil warring factions. But 30 years on, Igbo from all over the land still shout “marginalization” as their quarter remains the backwater of Nigerian society. In the last forty years there have been some awful examples of despotic rule (both at federal and state levels) that our forefathers would not have put up with. However the current generation, in spite of all the shouting, tend not to agitate for their rights but instead keep their heads down and noses clean.
So it was a big deal for me to hear of the demonstration and people prepared to put themselves publically on the line to oust Ohakim, who had ruled with an iron fist for the last four years, and elect Okorocha.
Dear Governor Okorocha:
Are you truly the person we have been waiting for – the person whom the Igbo in Imo can get behind and leave a legacy? I’m sure you know that getting to the top is relatively easy when compared with staying there. You will have to watch for the stream of sycophants and saboteurs who will want either to aggrandize themselves and make themselves rich … or to derail your stated intentions to deliver the much needed infrastructural services that will enable local entrepreneurs to build a state worthy of a 21st century civilized society.
You will need to take stock of what money comes into the state coffers from the federal purse, what income can be generated from the fertile land of oil, minerals, agriculture and commerce, and then where best to deploy the arms of state to facilitate the growth. Most of all you will need to guard your heart from all the opportunities you will have and encouragement you will get to “chop the national cake” (commit fraud and stuff your pockets) and stay focused on government for the people by the people.
That seems like a big job to me, that you should not be in a hurry to deliver. So I say to you Governor Okorocha, slow down, move well.