Staying in my state Imo throughout the Christmas and New Year holiday, offered me the opportunity to glean through the factors that heat up the politics of the state at present. As I was rounding off my holiday, the melodrama around the arrest of the Imo State Finance Commissioner and the Accountant General by the EFCC over charges ‘of misappropriating a Zenith Bank loan’ played out and I noted the reactions of Imo people to the arrest. Much as I don’t know the facts about the arrest and what transpired thereafter, it would be difficult not to believe the position of the state chapter of APGA that the arrest is one of the several federal government-sponsored and masterminded sieges to break the back of the APGA government in the state. I read the reaction of the arrested Commissioner after he was released some days after, that he was pulled in based on the petition by ALGON Imo State; a pseudonym for one of the numerous fronts the state PDP is employing in its fight to re-take the state, after the humiliating and disgraceful manner the party was sent packing in Imo State in 2011.
The commissioner was to state that the issue that prompted the petition was the N18 billion bond the previous government raised for the Oguta Wonderlake project. He stated that parts of the money were misappropriated without any noticeable work done on the project and that by the time the Rochas Okorocha government came in place, it decided to channel the remaining fund to the tackling of the overwhelming infrastructural rot previous governments have neglected. He said that based on such thinking, the state approached the Securities and Exchange Commission for approval for such re-routing and was granted. He therefore wondered why EFCC honoured such frivolous petition that had politics painted all over it. He may be saying the truth or lying but one certain thing is that the truth will unfurl with time. But consider the position of APGA that the same EFCC that is now so active on Imo State affairs had been playing deaf to a trailer load of petitions bothering on misappropriation of hundreds of billions of Naira against the previous regime. It therefore threw the clincher that the previous government should go public with what it did with over N400 billion that accrued to the state in four years. This may or may not be politics and as I said, the issues and truths in the different darts flying all over Imo State will come to light in the days to come.
But what is not in doubt is that the PDP is in a desperate, you might say, do-or-die, quest to take over Imo State. It is not pretending about this. It is not hiding its intent and this may be right, to the extent of its synergy with the law. But staying in Imo State for even one day, you will not miss the false bottom on which PDP is premising its present battle for Imo. It is not laundering its stellar performance in the twelve years it lorded over the state for it has no performance to flout. In fact, the PDP has no record or history of performance. Its quest is not rested on its bright array of candidates ranged against the incumbent. At best, it is a motley crowd of desperadoes and tainted aficionados, sourcing strength from Abuja, who deign power as their birthright and nothing more. It is not resting on the strength of its tactics, as the party’s best known tactics is to corner electoral mandates through the foulest of means. Its approach to taking over Imo is brimful with the traditional hubris, arrogance and petulant jumbo-sized ego that mark its questionable political strength in the dysfunctional republic we are saddled with.
In Imo, PDP is still bitter that its plans fell asunder in 2011. It is feeling the rot that comes with life outside politics. It is afflicted by the inability of its members to access state funds at will and employ same to overwhelm, dominate and foul the environment. It is feeling the slow pangs of death occasioned by idleness in the fast-paced political setting. It is rustic and weary and wants action in form of the usual feasts and festivals of sharing, which had marked its sojourn in politics since 1999. Gone are the days of godfathers, petty rent seekers and idlers with protruding stomachs fed by booties from the state. Gone are the days when charlatans, savants and hirelings make a Mecca of the government in their search for free meal. Gone are the days of the professional free loaders and beefy buccaneers who descend on the state treasury and were pampered with funds that would have improved the staid nature of the state. There are no more free meals in Imo and this, the mandarins and racketeers of politics that people Imo State PDP, are finding hard to bear.
Given the above scenario, it is understandable when PDP declares an unending siege on Imo, believing so much in its power to manipulate the electoral process and institutions to work for its inordinate desires. No day passes without one lousy boast or the other fouling the state airwaves of PDP vowing to take back Imo in 2015. No day passes without the PDP, in full cahoots with its national body staging one empty show or the other in Imo as parts of the strategies to capture and subdue Imo State in 2015. No day passes without sponsored news in the local media in Imo of how PDP is strategizing to take back Imo in 2015 and you wonder if such vow and desire is premised only on the feeling that power belongs only to the PDP. These are complimented by an array of syndicated features and views vended on the national media, seeking to manipulate information about Imo and its government.
For all these boasts and the mostly indecent means that are employed to force them through, PDP receives the blessing of the federal government whose attempt to help commandeer Imo to the PDP collection bin in May 2011 was resisted by the Imo masses. They have supplied every arrow the PDP is using it its present siege on Imo and we shall come to this act of partisan impunity in the days to come. We witnessed the drama the PDP is enacting in Imo State through ALGON, an acronym of local chairmen hand picked over the 27 local councils in the state by the previous government who have refused to accept the fact that their term has expired and the state must move on. The police and the army have been deployed to the PDP to realize its inordinate ambition to stifle the state through taking illegal control of the 27 local councils. We witnessed how different members and groups in PDP relocated to Abuja, begging for arms to take over the local arms and how they were obliged. It reached such bestial height when one Gulak, an adviser to President Jonathan had to call for the impeachment of Governor Okorocha for not allowing such travesty on the law and his own authority. We witnessed the unending siege the EFCC and other federal instruments of political persecution lay on Imo State today; all in an attempt to steer the state back to the hands of the carnivorous PDP.
Today, PDP national assembly members have invaded Imo, engaging in endless parodies, revelries and jestings and their ulterior mission is to set up a parallel government. The comedy of flagging off federal government projects or commissioning same are parodies that will never fool an average Imo man on what is happening in the state. In Imo State, the PDP is desperate to play down the achievements Okorocha has recorded in nearly two years when they have nothing worthwhile to show for twelve years in power. For this task, they lie, misrepresent, obfuscate and slander. They engage in provocative propaganda not premised on advertising the wonderful things they did with power in the first twelve years of our present democratic journey but denying the numerous landmarks Rochas has imprinted in Imo in his short stay on power. Theirs is a frenetic effort to arrest the truth, cage facts, shackle reality and manacle substance. They want to deny that there is free education in Imo at present. They deny that the roads they abandoned as un-mendable are being constructed and made passable. They deny that the Rochas government has built over 100 public structures in the state in two years when they never built up to an infinitesimal fraction of that number. They deny that 27 brand new hospitals are being constructed in the 27 local councils. PDP denies that new public schools are being built, that the general state of slur and decay they left Imo State is being recovered. In doing this, they are only leveraging on their well known knack to deign the masses as fools who cannot decipher what is right or wrong. This was the grand mistake they made in 2011 in their belief that the people count little while their power to manipulate counts more in a democracy.
I have often maintained that Imo people deserve good governance, which is where my support for Rochas rests on. I have always felt that the collective interests of Imo demands that we rally round a government that meets the needs and aspirations of Ndi Imo because we all stand to benefit from such positive approach to governance. The Okorocha government approximates our best effort at governance since the Mbakwe years. It is not by any means perfect. It makes its own mistakes. Some of its moves are wrong. I had stated that it is taking on too much projects at the same time and such might asphyxiate the good intents of any government, as there are way limited fund to meet the needs of the people. I have had cause to quarrel with its style of governance, especially as it relates to taking critical decisions. I have had cause to state my mind against his concept of the fourth tier government, especially as it relates to giving traditional rulers an epochal placing in the entire concept. But no one can doubt his commitment to make an appreciable difference with a state that has been at the receiving end of marauding governments for decades. No one, governed by the common good, can doubt that his government is making lasting differences with a state that was seen as jinxed by horrible governance and gasping in the clutches of bad governance since after the Mbakwe years. We owe him our collective support to do more and hold him in check where he deviates. PDP, despite its elephantine ego, its bloated hubris and its empty arrogance can never be an alternative to the present government in Imo State.
Peter Claver Oparah.