The Imo State Governor and His Worn-out Gimmicks.

As the 2019 electioneering campaign draws closer, the Imo State Governor and his appointees week in, week out introduce a rash of gimmicks to curry favour from the unsuspecting public.

They fired their first salvo a few weeks ago, with a hastily contrived fable which alleged that 16 out 27 APC LGA Chairmen in the state *”took an oath”* with one of aspirants to the office of the Governor of Imo State (in a veiled reference to Senator Ifeanyi Arararume, whose political star has steadily soared, and threatens to light up an otherwise pitch-black firmament in Imo State). It was Senator Araraume’s open declaration of his intention to aspiring for gubernatorial ticket of APC that drew instant consternation in, the ranks of Governor Okorocha’s “kitchen / family-owned cabinet”.

Thus, unable to explain how his carefully choreographed scam to smuggle one of his lackeys into the Government House as the culmination of his inglorious “Third Term” ambition, came unstuck, Gov. Rochas Okorocha hastily convened a meeting at the Imo Government House Owerri, to which he invited the 16 LGA Chairmen. These unyielding individuals (who have since been dubbed “APC-16” or ‘The G-16’, for their uncommon courage) stared Rochas in, the eyes, and overcome with their rage over their 6 years of stolen federal allocations, pointedly told him in one voice that the allegation, and in fact, the very suggestion of oath-taking was arrant nonsense.

Since that ill-fated meeting, Governor Okorocha, in consort with his ill-paid cronies has shuffled through and reviewed various approaches to reach out to the G-16 in, a desperate bid to compromise them through bribery. The courageous LGA Chairmen have refused all such entreaties and vehemently rejected their monetary and material inducements which they condemned as *”Greek gifts”* which are designed to deceive.

As it became increasingly clear that he could not lure the *”APC16”* to his side he resorted to his trademark empty threats of removing them from their various positions as the Chairmen of the local government chapters of our great party, APC.

Again, on a date announced for 2018 Budget Presentation of Imo State Government before the Imo State House of Assembly, the legislators shunned the sitting, a move that effectively barred the Governor from presenting the state 2018 budget before them. Boxed into a corner and unable to lobby the Parliament to rescind their action and allow him conduct his annual ritual, he changed tactics and began to try to lobby them individually, the end-result being the recent flurry of disjointed public comments and press releases by a handful of legislators in support of government policies and programs; some lawmakers who received or were promised more cash gifts went an extra mile to grant press interviews declaring support for the gubernatorial ambitions of Mr. Uche Nwosu (the son-in-law to Rochas Okorocha). One of such declarations came from Hon. Henry Uzoma Ezediaro, member representing Oguta State Constituency in Imo State House of Assembly.

In his release of Saturday, December 9, 2019, Hon. Ezediaro claimed that all the 27 Members of Imo State House of Assembly are united in their support for the guber ambition of Mr. Uche Nwosu, and even made a donation of 27 vehicles in pursuit of of same. However, Hon. Ezediaro failed to tell his audience where and when Mr. Uche Nwosu made public his intention to aspire for the gubernatorial ticket of APC. It also remains unclear if by his recent press statement, Ezediaro purports to be speaking for the Imo State Governor bearing in mind that their campaign slogan for the past few months has been tagged *”Show us the man and go to sleep”*. Following Ezediaro’s comments, could the Oguta-born legislator be attempting to indirectly inform the public that Gov. Okorocha has finally chosen a man to contest the ticket of APC against Sen. Araraume?

Hon. Ezediaro also failed to tell the public wherefrom he derived the authority and mandate to speak on behalf of all the lawmakers in, the Imo State House of Assembly, since he is neither the Speaker nor a principal officer of Imo State House of Assembly. In the purported press release, Hon. Ezediaro claimed that all the 27 members in question endorsed the aspiration and candidature of Mr. Uche Nwosu; are the five (5) PDP members who are right now in Abuja attending the PDP National Convention, also among this group of 27 lawmakers that issued the “Ezediaro Declaration?”

A critical analysis of recent events going on in Imo State, including this press briefing of *10/12/2019* by a legislator from an oil producing LGA in Imo State shows in no uncertain terms that Gov. Okorocha has lost grip of party politics, and is now desperately grabbing at straws, trying to use every available means to regain his withered political empire.

Okorocha is presently in a quagmire. The people of Imo State are united in their condemnation and rejection of Okorocha and his unpopular and retrogressive policies, actions and inaction which have combined to ratchet up the suffering of the betrayed mass of Ndo-Imo who put him in office. Rochas Okorocha is therefore undertaking a last-ditch bid to hold of to the fast vanishing vestiges of a lost empire; hence this latest lacklustre propaganda of deliberate disinformation to hoodwink the public through unfounde, misguided rumours.

It is now equally public knowledge that Gov. Okorocha has lost the confidence and trust of the APC Leadership at the Federal level, as well as that of the Presidency. This was made manifest during the recent *Two Day* visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to South East. At Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, all Igbo Leaders, across the political divide except Gov. Okorocha, turned out in the resplendent Igbo traditional *(Ishiagu)* atire. The obvious implication of this became immediately obvious: Rochas was not on the protocol list as one of the dignitaries to accompany President Muhammadu Buhari in the Presidential Chopper from Enugu to Abakiliki Ebonyi State. The annoyance and humiliation stemming from this development made him to immediately leave Enugu for Owerri, Imo State capital and was conspicuously missing from the creme of Igbo Leadership in Ebonyi State (even though he is as at today, the only APC Governor from the South East zone). In a swift reaction as a cover up, his aides went to press announcing that he was detailed by Mr. President to ensure adequate preparation of APC Rally Ground at Awka ahead of President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Anambra State the following day. Although they tried desperately to distort the facts, his amateurish spin doctors still failed to tell the public if Gov. Okorocha was a member of the APC Governorship Campaign Committee for Anambra State. Gov. Okorocha’s media aides could not also confirm to the public when precisely the Imo State governor metamorphosed into a security expert, saddled with the responsibility of ensuring adequate security for the President’s Visit, even when almost all the *Service Chiefs* and other heads of security agent’s were on hand for such purpose.

Consequently, in the face of these wave after wave of political catastrophies, and their palpable loss of grip on the APC structure in the state, frustration has led to an increasing desperation to deceive the public; they have concocted a new gimmick claiming that APC National Working Committee has adopted Gov. Okorocha’s national delegate list as the “authentic one” thereby discarding results of congresses held in various local government chapters of our great party, APC and unanimously adopted by all APC leaders in the state. When that failed to gain the expected traction, they fomented another tale that alleged that Sen. Ifeanyi Araraume was ready to leave APC for another party; as contraire, if there is any notable member of APC from Imo State that may contemplate an exit, it is likely to be Gov. Okorocha (in, view of the fact that his recent actions point to someone thinking in that direction). It is instructive to mention that Sen. Araraume is presently a Federal Commissioner in the APC-led Federal Government, and has influenced more Federal appointments for his close associates than anyone else in the state. Therefore it is hilarious, and beggars belief to suggest that the distinguished Senator would contemplate a departure from a palace in which he is living like a king.

In view of the above, the need has arisen to put the records straight. Imo State APC has one (1) person as member of APC National Working Committee in the person of Sen. Osita Izunaso, (who serves as the National Organising Secretary of the party); and members of National Executive Council which include Gov. Rochas Okorocha, Sen. Benjamin Uwajimogu, Sen. Osita Izunaso; those familiar with party politics will agree that there will not be any alteration to the delegates’ list without the prior knowledge of Sen. Osita Izunaso as National Organising Secretary of the party. Where and when did the National Working Committee of APC meet to agree on this new list that they are now peddling? Or are they trying to tell us that Sen. Osita Izunaso is now working with a man that betrayed him in his 2015 senatorial ambition and even during proceedings at Election Petition Tribunal that sat in Owerri? Why are Gov. Okorocha and his aides averse to the truth? As the National Working Committee of APC are yet to publish the list of successful delegates for its national convention, all APC faithful and the general public are enjoined to disregard this unfounded claim by Gov. Okorocha and his aides as they are far from the truth, and only designed to deceive the public. It is furtherance of this campaign of deceit that Rochas sought to dress himself in the garbage of the Director General of Buhari/Osinbajo 2019 Campaign Organisation – South East: a zone that harbours tested and trusted men of integrity and goodwill in the likes of Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, Dr. Chris Ngige; even President Muhammadu Buhari’s recently adopted son, Gov. Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State. There abound great men and women of Igbo extraction with proven track records capable of leading President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election train; and not one whose name has become synonymous with *unpopular and perverse policies and programs* that continues to pose an existential threat to the general populace in Imo State.

Therefore, it will only be wise to carefully scrutinize the next in line, in Rochas’ conveyor belt of gimmicks; because they come in fitful bursts and multiple waves. When all is lost, it is only lies that remain. That is the only thing that is left in the war arsenal of a Government that has become shorn of all useful, purposeful or progressive ideas about governance. The snake that has besieged and encircled Imo State has only been scorched; it has not yet been killed.

Agunwa Emeka Nzeribe who writes from Oguta LGA is a member of Araraume Destiny Organization, Media/Publicity Committee.

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