PROF. PROTUS NATHAN UZORMA
The 16th American President, Abraham Lincoln, once said “I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.” This is an all-time elder statesman speech, position, disposition, and mindset; a mark of eldership. Our Igbo grandparents would similarly say that an elder does not stay at home while a she-goat delivers on peg. This sort of disposition is lacking in the contemporary Nigeria; most especially with the Igbos, and virtually in all of spheres of life in the contemporary Igbo society. The elders fold their hands and watch the household sink, things going wrong and the populace soak in deep suffering; they remain speechless, rendering no corrections, admonitions or reactions.
The above reminds me of the most recent letter of the former Imo State Governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, to Governor Rochas Okorocha dated March 29, 2017. The letter is a masterpiece from an elderly statesman and State-family leader, though it sporadically bore some discourteous dictions, seeming insolent purviews and slighting references. Yet it is one of the best elder statesman reactions recorded in Imo State since its creation in 1976 as well as in neighbouring states especially in Igboland. It is the sort of advice seen in Igboland when individualism and selfishness have not taken hold of truth, transparency and altruism.
Truth must be told by the elders no matter how bitter it is. It takes patriotism to react accordingly, and thus it is highly patriotic for Chief Ikedi Ohakim to be concerned with the state of affairs in the Imo State after his dramatic step out. Ordinarily, he could look the other way while the things outlined in the letter get awry, notwithstanding having once presided over it as Governor. The American thinker, Walt Disney, was right in his saying that “our heritage and ideals, our code and standards- The things we live by and teach our children- Are preserved or diminished by how freely we exchange ideas and feelings.”
Certainly the issues he pointed out in the letter need urgent reactions from the Governor, but till date, nothing heuristic or correctional has been done about the realities admonished on in the letter. The letter, which contains five striking issues and some pieces of advice, highlighted the issues of HRM Eze Ilomuanya, continued insults from OKorocha and his men on the person of the former Governor Ohakim, records of the admonisher when on the stirring of the State, phantom achievements of his regime, and the socio-economic conditions of Imo State today.
Virtually all the highlighted points of admonition are very pertinent, as they have corroborated in the mesmerisation of the state of affairs and condition of living in Imo State till today. The issue of HRM Eze Dr Cletus Ilomuanya, is most perturbing as it not only marks intentional debasement of traditional institutions in Igboland and thus a mesmerisation of ancestral heritage of the Igbo race, but also an explicit indication of voguish use of the constitutional immunity clause protecting serving State Governors in the country. This voguish use of the immunity has resulted to the thuggish perception of procedural leadership, due process and rule of law. The height of it is the series of Judgements from Courts of competent jurisdictions in the State that ruled and ordered reversions and implementations that Governor Okorocha aborted.
Governor Ohakim in these aborted Court judgements listed the February 24, 2012 Imo State High Court judgement that shows the Governor’s palm on the sledge, the July 5, 2013 Court of Appeal judgement in Owerri, the May 26, 2014 High Court judgement in Imo State, the leap on board of juridical protocols in the Supreme Court litigation instituted by Governor Okorocha himself, and the Attorney General of the Federation’s direction to re-instate Eze Ilomuanya. The peak of these disobediences culminated in the violation of the ruling of the Court of Appeal and the directive of the Federal Government on the matter, and decided to banish Eze Ilomuanya.
These strides against one of the most renowned traditional rulers in Igboland is indeed a threat and grand assault on traditional institutions in Igboland and a remarkable raid on the national image of traditional rulers from Igboland. Leadership like money and power comes and goes, but traditional institutions like brotherhood never wither.
Obviously, Governor Okorocha was in for a show-down against the symbol of leadership and authority the Igbos have in the present day Nigeria, especially now that it is obvious to all Igbos that they have been grossly marginalised in Nigeria, and most of the marginalisation causes were own-caused by Igbos themselves. But these show-downs against Eze Ilomuanya are explicitly meant for all traditional rulers not only in Imo State but Igboland in general and as such on all Igbos, Governor Okorocha inclusive. The cricket roasts on fire and boasts its oozing oil.
On the civil perspective, these strides of Governor Okorocha are clear testimonies of a man and leader, who enforces obedience and deference on his subjects but contravenes the laws of the land, defiles due process, and repudiates Court Judgements because of mundane and counted immunity coverage, which prepares him for yet tragic show-downs when immunity expires. His stubbornness unto Court Judgements confirms the sayings of Prof Wole Soyinka (that “power corrupts, vicarious power corrupts vicariously”) and President Abraham Lincoln (that “nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power”).
The immunity clause that perhaps intoxicates is highly precarious and whimsical. It is based on this reality that instead of taking corrections or at least undertaking some degrees of amendment on erring grounds that were pointed by the former Governor Ikedi Ohakim, Governor Okorocha preferred lancing calculated and schemed insults on the person of his predecessor. What is insulting about emphasising that flyovers meet safety standards that merit the response that Ohakim achieved nothing in his four years leadership in the State? Is governance really all about real estate beautification? What about mass loss of jobs, slice of workers’ salaries, lengthened-debts on pensioners, mass administrative decay in primary and secondary schools mostly at the rural areas of the State, all incurred in this regime? What is governance outside people’s wellbeing, stability of future leaders’ conditions, good health-management and administration, equity in distribution of social amenities and social institutions, transparency in governance and awarding of contracts, attraction of federal presence in the State, stable governance and enhancing policies that ensure continuous grassroots development, etc.?
All these are lacking in Governor Okorocha’s leadership for these seven years and are mostly what the patriotic ex-State head sees and points out, which merits him constant insults from Governor Okorocha and his loyalists whose vainglorious dispositions that are founded on the out-dated defeat of Governor Ohakim in 2011, which since then mounted veils of obscurity on the present government, which prevents inside-house corrections. Certainly Rochas has turned gaga and this development has made all his loyalists agape, and thus unable to ordinarily say, “Oga, but it supposed to be like this or this way than that way, or what you think or are doing.”
If Rochas is not vainglorious, arrogant and conceited about leadership, he would have a wider ear that listens to both critics and praise-singers, and in this dexterity undertakes adjustments and takes corrections or directives, and therein turns to a perfect leader. This recent letter that I refer to is almost three months old, yet not even a dot in the pieces of advices given therein has been heeded to or acted upon.
Eze Ilomuanya’s case still remains as the temporal omnipotent Governor adamantly held ground, the Local Government system he advised on is still same unchanged, the 10,000 jobs for public servants are still like that, the alarm from COREN enlightened by the collapsed building in IMSU is still puffed out, IROMA is still moribund, the Judiciary still remains like a track in Uche Ogbuagu’s comedy, etc.
Indeed, Governor Okorocha must remember that whatever has beginning has ending. Now that a new political dispensation remains but 20 months to go, it has dawned on Imolites that governance is not show but working judiciously. How can a Governor within 16 months attract 32 newspaper editorials on negative governance in 6 years? These and many more are the things that Governor Ohakim and other well-meaning Imolites whom the praise-singers of Governor Okorocha consider as out-group, see and patriotically point out in diverse manners for the welfare of Imo State and are thus called names, attacked, insulted and cajoled. Rochas indeed needs to get up if he means leaving the State with lasting governance-legacies and stop fooling the masses. The former US President, Abraham Lincoln, rightly said: “you can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”