opinionBy Nsu Emineke
EVERY citizen of Imo State is now familiar with Governor Rochas Okorocha's governance by distraction. Every time his intrigues catch up with him, he reaches into his basket of tricks and fishes out ex-governor Ikedi Ohakim's name!
It is clear to all observers of the comical governance in Imo state that Okorocha has run out of fanciful ideas, ridiculous boasts and outlandish promises.
The chickens have come home to roost for him, and governance has screeched to a halt in Imo State. Those who were misled in the past to demonise Ohakim, first started expressing their regrets in murmurs -- for they were too embarrassed to admit their mistakes -- but now loudly proclaim that Okorocha was a disastrous choice! Hence the popular song in Imo now is ikirikaonyeohimma (Ikiri-the bush boy-is better than a thief). I am sure Gov. Okorocha has heard this chant!
What triggered the recent antics to probe Ohakim are the many problems he is confronted with in the State.
This probe comes after Okorocha had told Nigerians several times that he would neither probe nor witch-hunt Ohakim. The probe is meant to serve two major purposes. One is to divert the attention of Imo citizens and Nigerians from the rot in Imo State.
The second is to continue the smearing of Ohakim's name which has been an obsession for him. Not long ago, he sponsored a movie to demonise Ohakim and the entire Imo political leadership! Nobody is against any probe. Imo citizens deserve to know how they are governed, and even more so how Okorocha is governing them.
But the truth is that since he assumed office, Okorocha has done nothing else but to dig for evidence to nail Ohakim but he has found none. He has written volumes of petitions against Ohakim and his wife to EFCC and ICPC, but these have turned out to be the same old fiction. It seems his frustration has given room for hallucination!
What the kangaroo probe is expected to achieve is to smear Ohakim because Okorocha is banking on the fact that in Nigeria of today, once an allegation has been levelled against a public officer, he is assumed guilty, even without trial. People don't usually wait to get the truth.
The wonder about Okorocha's probe is that the report is already written and the media put on notice to expect an earth-shaking document that would finally rubbish Ohakim. He is now shopping for a panel of people to give their imprimatur to the sensational fiction. Otherwise, how can he promise to release the report to the public in two weeks, when he is yet to compose the panel, the panel is yet to sit and no evidence has been taken?
Why is he already implying Ohakim's guilt even before he is invited to appear before any probe panel? These questions become academic once we remember that Okorocha acts with impunity and is hardly a respecter of the rule of law. The question is whether any respectable Imo person will lend his name and dignity to this probe as a member of the panel!
The question Imo citizens want answers from Okorocha is why his free education has run into a hitch, while, unfortunately, gullible Nigerians continue to clap for him? The Nation newspaper on November 27, 2012 reported that Imo indigenes in tertiary institutions had besieged the palaces of traditional rulers for the free education cheques Okorocha promised them!
Many monarchs in Imo State have now abandoned their palaces for fear of being lynched by angry students. The National Association of Imo State Students (NAISS) have described the free education as "fraudulent and ambiguous" and has threatened to go to court over the scam! Today, nobody knows whether what Okorocha is offering is bursary, scholarship or free education! It is all confusion.
Two weeks ago, Okorocha sacked the VC of Imo State University, Prof. B.E.B Nwoke, for refusing to admit 4000 pupils of Rochas Foundation Schools, who are non-indigenes of Imo, without JAMB and Post-JAMB screening.
His game-plan was that these non-indigene students would pay the fees with which to fund his so-called free education. That is how desperate he has become. Prof. Nwoke's other sin was that he demanded improved funding for the university. Yet, Okorocha has promised to build four new universities and Nigerians clapped!
It is on record that throughout his tenure, Ohakim enhanced the welfare of the physically challenged in Imo State and paid their allowances every month. He even appointed one of them as his Senior Special Assistant! But Okorocha has stopped paying them.
On November 22, 2012, over 5000 of them took to the streets and grounded Owerri (Daily Sun of Friday, 23 November 2012). When the disabled protesters got to Government House, they were dispersed with tear gas! How insensitive!
The day Okorocha was inaugurating his private squad called Imo Security Network with which he terrorises the opposition, contractors he owed demonstrated at the Ahiajoku Convention Centre to disrupt the event.
These are contractors who fell for Okorocha's caper and mobilised to sites without contract documents and have now been disowned by him as was predicted. Some of these contractors took loans from banks which have now foreclosed their properties.
According to their spokesman, Chief Zack Awaraka, Okorocha simply used them to "claim undue glory" as a performing Governor . Okorocha claims to have paid them N13.9 billion. But Chief Awaraka has challenged him to publish the names because only companies connected to the regime are paid in Imo!
Let us not even talk of the filthy state of Imo. The sanitary condition of Owerri has deteriorated to pre-2007 conditions. Insecurity has forced many citizens to relocate outside the state, further worsening the economic condition of the state.
Okorocha himself does not sleep in Owerri! Once it is six o'clock, he jumps into his private jet and flies to Abuja from where he jets into Owerri the next morning!
Instead of hounding Ohakim, he should explain to Imo people where he got the money to buy the jet. We all know how "rich" he was before 2011. If it is on lease, who is paying for it? Is it necessary to spend Imo's lean resources on such luxury that smacks of insensitivity?
Secondly, this probe- apart from its intent to smear Ohakim- is to divert the attention of Imo citizens and Nigerians from the more important fact that the N13.5 billion bond money Ohakim handed over had been misappropriated.
Mr. Emenike, a businessman, wrote from Owerri, Imo State.