Owelle, do you really mean this?

By Chuks Osuji

It has always been said that in politics there is no permanent enemy or permanent friend but permanent interest. But when this is properly examined, one can only see such definition as too elusive and of course, self serving. And it may even not apply in all circumstances or conditions.

Recently, I read from Owerri-based local tabloid that “Governor Okorocha of Imo State has condemned the zoning system in election which does not allow credible candidate to emerge.”

According to the report, Governor Okorocha said this while visiting Ngor Okpala and Aboh LGAs recently. It was reported that he seriously indicted anybody who would advocate zoning, saying that such a process is barbaric.

In fact, at first, I did not believe that the Governor could say that due to his knowledge and experience in the Nigerian politics. But when I read the story in more than two newspapers, and those present confirming the statement, I honestly became soberly too sorry for Nigeria Nigerian politicisms and the fate of politics in Nigeria.

As a political philosopher, I have always admired and appreciated the sayings of great Philosophers and philosophical expressions because they have relevance in today’s perplexing and contradicting world. It is in the light of this that I want to begin this piece by quoting Abraham Lincoln regarded as the greatest American President because of wisdom and achievements.

According to him, “Nearly all men can stand adversities, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

discussion, it will be appropriate to restate the full meaning of the word, “barbaric” as used by the Imo State Executive governor. According to a dictionary meaning of the word, “uncivilized, primitive, wild and crude.”

There is no doubt that Owelle has a deep education, speaks well and knows the full import of what he said. He could not have merely dropped that word, “barbaric.” Although as a Governor who does not believe in written speeches, he must be prepared to be very careful when choosing his adjectives particularly in the public, more so where some journalists are present.

Honestly, I am not a fan of Owelle Rochas Okorocha. But I am the fan of the Governor of Imo State because he is my governor, our governor and deserves our respect and confidence in him to make life more meaningful for us all.

As a Public Relations Practitioner, I am duty bound to support the Governor of the State bcause, having been declared the winner of election, irrespective of how he won, he is and has been declared our Governor. However, according to Kingsley or Fisher, “sometimes, due to bias … or carefulness, we may inadvertently legitimize illegitimacy and once that illegitimacy has been legitimized, the citizenry must give such support until another legitimate means is used to correct the situation.”

For me and for many Imolites, Owelle is our Governor. Whether we like it or not, he is our Governor. His pattern and style of leadership probably could well determine whether or not he should be given another opportunity as the governor of Imo State. However, what is certain is that without any iota of doubt, he must have lost a large measure of his support base. Anyway, that is not the crux of this discussion.

What is in focus here is for Rochas Okorocha who has in many instances and in several occasions advocated zoning has benefitted from it directly or indirectly, to condemn zoning as barbaric, smarks of a careless statement. Certainly so.

Just few instances may suffice here. When in1999 Owelle was pressurizing the People Democratic Party (PDP) leadership in Imo State to give him the governorship ticket, his argument was based on zoning because, he and Achike Udenwa argued rather very persuasively that since Mbakwe from Okigwe and Enwerem from Owerri had held the position, it was right for Orlu person to hold it. In fact, at that time, PDP leadership was dominated by Owerri zone. And after the primary, Chief Barrister Humphrey Anumudu had won the primary election, defeating other candidates including Achike and Rochas.

In fact, I was in a position to know that Chief Solomon Lar, a man I respect highly, who then was the National Chairman of PDP had personally written to the State Chairman of PDP, Chief I.D Nwoga, making a very strong case for Rochas to be given the ticket. The basis of his argument was that the zoning principle supported Rochas Okorocha, from Orlu.

Although the letter came few hours late because by then, Barnabas Gemade’s Committee with the PDP leadership in Imo State had chosen Achike Udenwa on the basis of zoning principle which invariably resulted in what has now come to be known as “Equity Charter” among the three zones.

Furthermore, in 2007, after Achike’s two terms, it was the same zoning consideration which made it possible for Ohakim to be given the ticket, even after Chief Martin Agbaso, had in fact, won the election and his election was cancelled because he is not from Okigwe zone.

Even at that time, at least three other heavy weights, including Hope Uzodinma and Festus Odimegwu came out to vie for the position. According to authentic information, Engr. Ugwu was given the ticket on the basis of the zoning principle. Unfortunately, the complexities of geo-politics including other political gingoism, if not legal, robbed Charles Ugwu of the position. All those money giants from Orlu were sidelined by Baba who strongly accepted the argument of the PDP leadership.

Now, when Rochas came to vie for the seat in 2011, he was heavily criticized. But being a destined person, the miscalculations of Ohakim in addition to other cumulative conspiracies even to the top in addition to his verbal discharges resulted in his being removed. Afterall, I am one of those who strongly believed that in spite of all that Ohakim did not lose the election, rather he was conspired out.

Now, Rochas by all stretch of the argument could be considered as a political interloper who was helped by other converging political intrigues to usurp the governorship race to the chagrin of Okigwe zone. What is more, Owelle Rochas Okorocha is using the zoning principle in asking the APC leadership to zone the Vice Presidency to the South East. Yet, he described zoning principle as barbaric.

No wonder Winifred Osborn has reasoned, “when men are in the course and pursuit for power, they may compromise principle diminish their integrity, speak two languages from the same tongue because to them, it does not matter what they use to acquire power, afterall power is the ultimate and secondary to money and love in that order.”

Hence I politely ask Owelle, did you actually say that zoning is barbaric? If so, who are the barbarians? Could it not include those who are using it or who have gained from it?

Peter Ash has reasoned, “those in authority must always check things that come out of their mouths because wary citizenry will always use it against them.”

About the author