Opinion: IKWUM AND OGOMCRACY IN IMO GOVERNMENT – By UZORMA NATHAN
This article was published some years ago, and is now repeated with a new topic. Though Imo government has since made some little adjustment but the philosophy of IKWUM AND OGOMCRACY have not changed.
Robert Harris, the great Anglo-German novelist (in his Fatherland) noted that “from the pictures sent in for exhibition, it is clear that the eye of some men shows them things other than as they are- That there really are men who on principle feel meadows to be blue, the heavens green, the clouds sulphur- Yellow…” These visionary impediments and deceits are not only from the eyes of the beholding appreciators’ of arts but also from the eyes of the art-creator- The artist. And for this reason, Harris added “either these ‘artists’ do really see things in this way and believe in that which they represent- Then one has but to ask how the defect in vision arose, and if it is hereditary the Minister of the Interior will have to see to it that so ghastly a defect shall not be allowed to perpetuate itself- Or, if they do not believe in the reality of such impressions but seek on other grounds to impose them upon the nation, then it is a matter for criminal court.”
The problems that Robert Harris portrays here are akin to what are obtainable in Imo State today. The style of governance, the effectual and emergent realities from the governance, the hidden personal-qualities, intentions and activities of the Governor and his make-belief shows displayed like an artwork, all call for urgent evaluation and criticism, in order to have an ameliorated society in Imo State. According to Harris, either the eye of the artists (Rochas and Co Ltd) has a visionary defect and decides to present the deceiving images to the public or the artist’s eye sees nothing but imposes the implied visions on the State.
Two things are at stake here- The visionary erring of the art-creator (Gov Rochas and his lieutenants), and the visual blunders of the art-appreciator (Imolites). In whichever angle it comes, one certainty stands obvious: That what we see, is different from either what it is, or that what we do not see is the protégé-cache of the art-creator (Rochas), concealed in order to make himself the Michael Angelo of our epoch while a mere countryside cartoonist is more professional than him.
Christ, one of the greatest earth-teachers once told his disciples that whoever wants to remove a grain of sand from the eyes of the other should first be sure that there are no logs of woods in his own eyes. I remember the immediate past Governor of Imo State, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, the Ikiri that Uche Ogbuagu today says is better than Onye Oshi, was pilloried for having put his brother, Chief Emma Ohakim (the former Chief of Staff) closer to him in government. He was bitterly burlesqued and lampooned because his artistic intentions were portrayed bare in the artefacts presented to the public.
Today, what type of societal leadership do we have in Imo State? Is it a government or Family business? If it is a government, what type of government do we have in Imo State? Is it democracy or Ohacracy? No! It is but Ikwumcracy, Ogomcracy, Ochichocracy, familiocracy, tyranny, name them. A discovery and realisation of the actual operational leadership-typology in the State makes the proposed Imolites’ artistic contemplation on the governance-pictures and images portrayed on canvas (infrastructural development) and sculptures (administrative images) possible. Because as Robert Harris said, “from the pictures sent in for exhibition, it is clear that the eye of some men shows them things other than as they are- That there really are men who on principle feel meadows to be blue, the heavens green, the clouds sulphur- Yellow.”
In Okorocha’s government today, how many of his family members are there, bearing in mind the extended-family ideology prevalent in Igboland? How many in-laws are in his government- The SGI (Prof Anwuka), the Commissioner of Lands, Survey and Urban Development (Uche Nwosu), the ISOPADEC Director (Prince Henry Okafor), etc? How many cousin-brothers and sisters are manning what in various commissions, boards, agencies, and contracts, etc? How many concubines and concupinage-in-laws are his SSAs and PAs, TC Chairmen and Women, etc?
The eatery-plaza that has replaced the position of the IMSU Library in a citadel of learning, who honestly owns and manages it? Certainly, it is one of the members of the Okorocha-Family Ltd, his former “ikwu” who unfortunately has left the familiocrat for the great PDP. Is it academically conceivable that while entering a State’s classical citadel of learning, the first building to behold is a campus hotel, while in other places the first sights are the admin-blocks, libraries, lecture halls, artistry and relaxation courts? It this government or family business in which one scavenges areas where markets will flow fast and enrich the establisher, and thus sees a University Campus as one? Why didn’t he site a Campus Clinic or use the grandiose fund buried there to equip the various departmental and faculties’ libraries that will make accreditation this year an easy feat for the lecturers and students in the University, and thus redeem lost accreditations in IMSU?
Who owns Lamonde Hotels? Is it Imo State Government or the Okorocha-Family Ltd? Why is it very functional today as the Governor’s private-government hotel, while the public-government hotel- Concorde has collapsed? What was the pre-existing perimeter square of the vacant land there to accommodate the edifice? Who ab initio owns the acquired land- Imo State Government or Rochas? Is it good governance to acquire government land with Executive acquisition fiat and then turn it to personal usage? Is this stride for government affairs or family business? Is it right to appropriate the Judiciary land for hostelling harlots and the inebriated, a piece of land for justice turned to sensual gratifications? Does Rochas have respect for law and the judiciary? Is the Judiciary in Imo State truly independent? If it is, then it is part of the sleeping giants in the State that slumber while taboos trespass the horizon of natural and civil laws? If it is not, then as a dependant and protégé of the Okorocha-Family Ltd, it is either a self-known or unaware family-business partner.
Sometime past, the reveller than rescuer of Imo, Rochas Okorocha attempted in his usual instinctive fantasies to relocate the Imo State University to Okpoko, his hometown. Grandiose funds were also expended. When he was lampooned for such, he shrank like the wise land-tortoise. Today, is the erected edifice turned to an unpopular university still a State-owned land and property or his personal university? The International Maritime University at Osemoto (Oguta) that has two buildings for four years and is now proposed to be relocated to the Oru-Ward (Oguta II segment), who will own the acquired and used and dumped land there? Is it the State or the Okorocha & Co Family Ltd, perhaps, his most nearest propitious family member- Prince Henry Okafor (of Osemoto, Oguta 1) or Prof Anthony Anwuka (of Egbuoma, Oguta 1)? Certainly one of them or a newer in-law to be acquired over time, will be best for the business?
Who owns Roche Construction Company that has silenced Enic and Haden, MCC, etc in the State? Certainly, Roche is the French form of Rochas. Who owns Lamonde Ltd? Certainly, Lamonde is a Sanskrit name for Rochas; just as the name Buhari in its religious Igbonisation means Okechukwu. Lamonde Prints at Umezurike Street by Royce Road Owerri that has replaced Imo State Government Press, who owns it? Is it the State Governor (Okorocha &Co Family Ltd) or the State Government (or collective property)?
Who is the contractor awarded the sewing of Imo students and pupils school uniforms? Who was contracted the school canvass? The roundabouts that popularised Gov Rochas, who are their contractors? When where the contracting opportunities made for public bid or tender? Which indigenous companies applied before which committee before screening and award of the contracts? Who monitors the family contract than the ubiquitous grand Padre? Why put roundabouts around standing structures for flyovers? Is it not to complete the number of promised roundabouts for the Okorocha-Family Ltd business?
There is a play in semantics here between the concept of the STATE GOVERNOR and STATE GOVERNMENT. The nuances in the duo make the pictures displayed and exhibited to the public (Imolites) a difficult artefact to appreciate, and as such, our eyes as Robert Harris said begin to “feel meadows to be blue, the heavens green, the clouds sulphur- Yellow.” Is the State Governor as an individual person same as the State Government as legal personhood? Can every business established by the State Governor become government’s by virtue of his being the head of the Government? Can he turn every State Government’s affairs into private family business- That is, can he (being the State Governor) turn that which hitherto used to be government’s to his own as he is the head of the State Government? These call for decisive rumination, cogitation and ratiocination since they are at the basis of the Okorocha-Family Ltd than Government in Imo today.
Without being biased, we have to rethink on the numerous governance and self-righteous images Governor Rochas Okorocha display continuously to Imolites. Because as Robert Harris said, “from the pictures sent in [to Imolites] for exhibition, it is clear that the eye of some men shows them things other than as they are- That there really are men who on principle feel meadows to be blue, the heavens green, the clouds sulphur- Yellow.” Why this rethink is urgent is as P.D. James puts it (in his Unnatural Causes) that “the words [from Gov Okorocha’s mouth], as sometimes happened, came simply and easily. He wrote them down without pausing to think too much or even to wonder whether he was being sincere.” We have to revolt as Harris suggests because “either these ‘artists’ [Okorocha & Co Family Ltd] do really see things in this way and believe in that which they represent… Or, they do not believe in the reality of such impressions but seek on other grounds to impose them upon the nation [Imo State]. If it is the first, Rochas is a grand deceiver. If it is the second, then it is a matter for criminal court. But whichever it is, it implies visual deceit and obvious concealment of actual intentions from activities displayed for appreciation. Wonders shall never end.
Prof. Protus Nathan Uzorma (The Reformer & Mayor of Imo youth).