Any discerning mind who listened to Governor Rochas Okorocha recently when he was talking on how the APC Governors have been asked by the Presidency to set up campaign councils in their zones, will immediately know where the governor is heading to. He wants to make himself the emperor of the South East in the name of campaigning for President Muhammadu Buhari. Although the Presidency through the spokesman, Femi Adesina has debunked the claim that a Director General has been appointed with campaign councils, for the purpose of re-electing Buhari, the people of the South East, especially those in the APC should immediately take note of the expansionist agenda of Rochas Okorocha and put him in his place before he damages the brand Buhari.
For some of us in the South East Integrity Group of APC, there is no better time to sound the alarm to the leadership of the party at the national level and even the Presidency than now, that any attempt to put Rochas Okorocha at the helm of the campaign for the re-election of President Buhari will spell doom for the party. In Igbo land, it is said that a war foretold to a cripple will never consume him. It also said that the stubborn fly follows the corpse to the grave. We do not have anything personal against the governor of Imo State, but his antecedents predicated on his style of leadership does not recommend him for such a sensitive position which requires a man of calm mein; a man imbued with native wisdom; a man who commands the respect of Igbos and a man who is not controversial. Unfortunately, Rochas Okorocha since he took over as governor of Imo State does not represent these values both in his actions, inactions and utterances.
In fact, if Imo people are given the opportunity to re-write their history, they would not have wished to see 2011, the day they rejected Ikedi Ohakim and embraced Rochas Okorocha as their governor. From Archbishop Anthony Obinna to the Catholic Church that he heads; from the Inaga people and civil servants who all played crucial role in the election of Okorocha, they have a tale of regrets. Mention the name of the governor and they will shout tufiakwa!
In other words, the governor has failed to provide leadership in Imo State and therefore cannot give what he lacks to the South East APC. As a matter of fact, Rochas Okorocha does not enjoy the best of relationship with his brother governors in the South East not to talk of prominent Igbo leaders. This is not to suggest that he has a connection with the masses. His anti people policies in Imo State automatically disqualify him from adorning that toga. With such a baggage of non acceptability among his own people, how can Rochas sell Buhari in the South East?
Simply put, the Imo State governor has a credibility crisis in the South East because he is erratic and very controversial. Again he is not a team player. His dictational tendencies as evidenced in the way he is running the government in Imo State seriously hamper his capacity to deliver as a campaign coordinator even in Imo State not to talk of the entire South East. He believes in working with only members of his family and a tiny group he can dictate to as an emperor.
Only recently when a stakeholders meeting of the South East was held at Imo State lodge in Abuja, Rochas flooded the place with his family members and appointees to the embarrassment of other stakeholders from the four states of Abia, Ebonyi, Anambra and Enugu states. Was that a dress rehearsal of what to expect if the Imo State governor is handed over the leadership of APC and Buhari campaign in the South East?
Again of what electoral value has Rochas added to APC in the South East as the only APC governor in the zone? Under his watch, APC lost the governorship election in Anambra State after he has boasted that he will capture the state. His style of antagonizing people has made him lose any electoral value even in Imo State. Therefore it will be suicidal for APC to entrust the re-election of President Buhari in the hands of such a man when we have a surfeit of capable and credible hands in the South East to execute such a delicate job.
Yes, it is a dicey job because the people of South East in spite of the assurances to the contrary feel that they have not benefited from the government of President Buhari since he came to power in 2015. The South East s not represented in the Security Council. The South East has the worst network of federal roads in Nigeria. There are other indices to justify the people’s attitude towards the federal government. So we need men who understand these needs and can connect to the people to drive Buhari’s campaign. We don’t need a man who through his utterances and actions will further alienate Ndigbo from Buhari.
Fortunately such grassroot politicians as Chief Jim Nwobodo, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, Chief Martin Elechi, Barr. Sullivan Chime, Chief Emeka Wogu, Chief Sampson Ogah and Chief Ken Nnamani are all there willing and capable of handling such a matter. We also have our ministers in government especially Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu and Dr. Chris Ngige. Any of them can also do the work. Even beyond these men and Rochas Okorocha, Igbo men and women abound to deliver Buhari in the South East.
We don’t want to go back to 2015 when Okorocha as a sitting governor could not deliver Imo State to APC and Buhari. We won’t go back to why Buhari lost in South East in 2015. The challenge before all of us in APC now is how to change the narrative. And the solution lies in having a credible and capable leadership to drive the project. That is why this our clarion call for Rochas Okorocha not to head the campaign for Buhari is absolutely necessary so that Ndigbo will not be blamed for the President’s fate in 2019 if this call is ignored.
Chief Ojembe, the National Coordinator of APC South East Integrity Group wrote from Umuahia, Abia State