By Charles Ofoji
In his sweetest days, Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha fancied himself as the new „Zik“ of Nigerian politics.
In that delusion, he begun to imitate the way the late charismatic first Nigerian president spoke. But unfortunately he shunned to emulate the character of the Nnamdi Azikiwe, probably Nigeria’s finest politician ever.
Okorocha was only attracted to Zik’s gift of oratory, mainly because he foolishly saw it as a weapon to „brainwash“ the electorate.
Anayo Rochas Okorocha firmly believed he has „pocketed“ the people who voted him to power, mainly probably because of what his native doctor told him and because he felt he had hypnotized them by attempting to speak like the great Zik of Africa.
As he imitated Zik, Okorocha churned out chapters on „Iberiberism“ (stupidity). He became overnight the wisest man from the East.
One of the famous quotes from the Book Of Okorocha was his „Oha shile ofuonye irism.“
This Igbo saying simply translated means: when a person cooks for the crowd, they have the capacity to finish the food. But when the reverse is the case, one person cannot finish the food cooked by the clan.
During the plots and intrigues that were elicited by Okorocha’s warped dream of foisting his unqualified son-in-law, Uche Nwosu on Imo people as governor, Okorocha, driven almost insane by power, saw himself as the „Oha“ (kinsmen) and the people as „Ofuonye“ (one person). The video went viral on internet.
He threatened to cook for his people on election day – simply because they rejected, in a democracy, his anointed successor. Not necessary because he was the governor’s son-in-law but because he was simply unqualified. Bear in mind that Uche Nwosu had roamed the streets barely eight years as an unemployed.
The former self-proclaimed philanthropist swore that Uche Nwosu will be the next governor whether the people liked it or not.
In one meeting at his Owerri residence, a week to the governorship election, Governor Okorocha ordered his supporters to do all to realize the governorship ambition of his son-in-law. „No matter what it will cost.“
Nothing will happen, he thought.
Afterall, his party was ruling at the center and his idol, Muhammadu Buhari was president and commander-in-chief. His people had warned him however that those he trusted in Abuja will use him and later dump him but Okorocha would never listen to the people he saw as stupid.
In any case, the food prepared by Okorocha for his people was enormous and at the same time poisonous. He emptied Imo State treasury, bribed INEC officials and unleashed violent thugs and compromised security operatives on the people he was voted to protect simply because he lacked the capacity or refused to understand how democracy works.
Ultimately, the governor was shocked to find out that his kinsmen gulped his gigantic food – at least what he thought was gigantic.
But Mr. Okorocha was unwise not to realize that what actually transpired was that „oha shiri ya iri“ (the people cooked for him).
For eight years, Okorocha governed like a man on drugs. Apart from accusations of massive looting, appropriation of public property and satanic land acquisition, his government had no human face. His policies hardly made sense as he showed no empathy for the people.
Okorocha threw caution to the wind; restraint was alien to his dictionary in his show of disrespect and scorn for the people that actually made him what he is.
He never for one day pinched himself and realized that he was merely a servant of the people – a messenger sent on a mission by the electorate.
Okorocha abandoned the errand and embarked on a historic frolic of nauseating self-service. He betrayed his people, who trusted him with power as they looked forward to a better life under his leadership.
Instead of fried eggs for breakfast, Okorocha served Imolites scorpions.
If Okorocha’s sin against his people was only betrayal, maybe it could have been ignored or forgiven. Afterall, it is expected of mortals. But Okorocha added salt to the injury he inflicted on his people by wanting to slap them on the face – the kind of slap with the undertone „unu oga eme gini?“ (what can you people do)?
In the face of his bad and cruel leadership, the attempt to hand over power to his son-in-law was the slap on the face of a proud Imo people. It was a case of telling them that they are a conquered people with little or no choice.
The Imo State of legendary Sam Mbakwe suddenly became a befitting gift for Uche Nwosu for marrying Okorocha’s daughter nobody wanted.
Even if Okorocha had done beautifully well as governor, the idea was depraved. It would have been rebuffed nevertheless.
But in his case, his governorship is a historic disaster. Should Imolites then agree to Uche Nwosu as his successor as a thank-you to Okorocha for eight years of madness or what?
We are humans. It is legitimate to dream and nurse ambition, no matter how inordinate it may seem. Okorocha dreamt of his son-in-law as the only suitable „heir“ to the Imo throne. He is entitled to such dream. However, he tested the waters and realized that this dream will not fly. The idea was fiercely resisted by Imolites. Yet he clung to it at all costs and challenged his people to a wrestling contest at the village square.
This turned out to be Okorocha’s biggest undoing. He left the village square badly battered. His over-sized ego was deflated. The people taught him the lesson he never learned or the one he chose to forget – power belongs to the people.
On top of it they reminded him that „men dey for Imo.“ That was the victory slogan of the youths after Imo people „liberated“ themselves from what they saw as attempt by Governor Okorocha to take them into slavery in the 21st century.
Okorocha left the village square as a double loser. He failed in his quest to secure a third term, using Uche Nwosu as a proxy. And he also failed to go to the Nigerian Senate as he had envisaged. The prophecy of his “stupid people” that he would be used and dumped had come true.
He never envisaged that the people had any say in his plans. Neither did it matter to him if it was acceptable to them or not. What only mattered was what he wanted. How else would you explain a chief security officer of a state forcing a returning officer, with threat of violence, to declare him a senator-elect?
Luckily for the Imo-West constituents that illegitimate electoral victory has been ignored by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC). Governor Okorocha was ignored and left on the spectator-stand on Thursday when INEC presented certificates of return to about 100 senators who legitimately won elections.
Many have expressed the view that Okorocha is finished politically.
Another cross-section even hold the view that his next destination is prison, having allegedly stolen public funds. Only time will tell.
Be that as it may, Okorocha had seen the Senate as the next stop before his final bus-stop at the presidency – as the first Igbo president since the civil war.
In his poor calculation, this dream would be easily realized with funds made available by Uche Nwosu as Imo governor.
It continues to beat my imagination how a man who performed so abysmally as governor would deceive himself into believing that he is the most qualified Igbo person to become president in 2023.
The story of Rochas Okorocha will be told a thousand years. Not for good anyway, but for lots of bad reasons.
It is not the aim of this piece to delve into the question of what happened to Okorocha – a man who rode to power enjoying massive popular support and tremendous goodwill.
I also resist the temptation to dabble into how and why a sane person could squander such love and goodwill.
In any case, the unborn generation will be told the story of how a man with humble beginnings, quickly forgot his past when he finally found his way to the top. And how he then tormented the poor and the oppressed who had chosen him to fight for them and make their lives better.