“The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me” Matt 26:11.
I was a discussant with one of Governor Okorocha’s die-hard supporters and commissioner nominee, Prof Nnamdi Obiareri, Hon Barr Uche Onyeagucha and Prof Protus Nathan Uzoma on Saturday November 11, 2017. The event was the 5th anniversary of Imo Youths for Positive Change held at the Mega 1 Event Place, Akanchawa Road, Concorde Area, Owerri. The event comprised of public lecture and discussion segments, where we discussed “Integrated State Development: A Comparative Analysis of Sam Mbakwe Era and Post Mbakwe Period – The Quo Vadis”.
It was an interesting moment, and it was time for the politicians on the panel to engage in unnecessary adulation and make some baseless claims. It was therefore shocking to many of us to hear from Prof Nnamdi Oboareri that Governor Okorocha loves the poor.
Governor Okorocha rode on the back of the poor to become Governor in 2011. He went to the markets and spoke to them. He hugged them. He bought akara from roadside and ate. He bought roasted corn by the roadside and ate. He rode on keke. He drove himself in his car and beamed with smile as he shook hands with all and sundry. He associated himself with the poor and they accepted him like one of them. He called them ” my people, my people” and they answered “our Governor, our Governor”. But many years down the line it has become clear to the poor that their judgment of 2011 was wrong, that they made a mistake.
But according to Professor Obiareri, Governor Okorocha is the only Governor in Imo State that loves the poor and has picked his appointees from their rank. He claimed that Governor Okorocha picks nobodies and makes them somebodies by virtue of his appointing them into office. He went on to claim that Governor Okorocha has produced a Senator in the person of Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu who was Speaker of Imo State Assembly. He also mentioned Hon Chike Okeafor who is now a member of the House of Representatives after serving as Okorocha’s Commissioner for Finance. Before he ended his talk he mentioned how he was denied the ticket to go to the Senate under the PDP, lamenting that the PDP gave their ticket to someone he considered himself better.
It is imperative to point out that when you listen to Prof Obiareri speak against the PDP and their governments, you would see someone that has bitterness and malice for the party and all they stand for. This malice and bitterness have gone deep that the Prof cannot see any good in the PDP that he served for many years. As far as he is concerned the PDP is not a good party and their governors did not do well because he was denied the opportunity to go to the Senate. It therefore means expecting too much if we want him to speak objectively of the PDP era and anything the party stands for, not now he is still a serving member of the Okorocha’s government.
Prof Obiareri is typical of many politicians in Imo State with whom we have become very careful about believing what they say, because what they say when they are in government is not what they say when they are out of government. Put differently, what they say about the government when their interest is being protected is different from what they say when the same interest is at risk. Such politicians speak not the truth; they speak depending on what their current interest is.
Take cognisance of the fact that we had on the panel at the event mentioned earlier two opposite personalities: Hon Barr Uche Onyeagucha who was singing all the praises for Okorocha’s government while he was serving as special adviser to the Governor, but now that he is no longer in government he has taken over the job of the opposition and has become critical of the Governor. He has even joined the opposition All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and he is being praised in the opposition camp as a dogged fighter. This is one of the ironies of our political culture.