For some time now, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State has been galloping from one controversy to the other. Some of these controversies appear either orchestrated by him or his aides. Either way, they have done more harm than good to the governor and his administration.
The latest of such needless controversies involves the near-bloody clash between the governor’s convoy and that of Senator Chris Anyanwu, who represents Owerri zone at the National Assembly. Interestingly, both Okorocha and Anyanwu are of the same political party, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). Unfortunately, their paths have crossed several times lately.
The latest clash between the duo on December 26, 2012, is by all accounts, a flagrant and shameful show of raw power. The two camps have given their versions of the unfortunate incident which took place along Azaraegbelu in Owerri North local government of the state. Anyanwu, who said she had visited the governor earlier in the day to felicitate with him on the Christmas season, has explained that on her way to her hometown, Mbaise, that same day, her convoy noticed “an intimidating convoy bearing down on her convoy with full compliments of security operatives.”
She said on her instruction, her convoy gave way for the governor’s convoy to pass, but instead, the governor’s convoy pulled up and his security operatives unleashed a battery of attacks on her aides, disarmed her security aide, dragged her driver into a bush and brutalized him. Senator Anyanwu also alleged that the governor watched while the ugly spectacle lasted.
But the State Government, in a statement by the governor’s aide on media, Mr. Ebere Uzoukwa, dismissed Anyanwu’s version of the incident. Instead, the government claimed that it was the senator’s convoy that rammed into the governor’s convoy, and the governor “narrowly escaped death”. The statement further accused Senator Anyanwu’s convoy of using siren, which has been banned in the state to check the activities of criminals. All things considered, the near-free for all between Governor Okorocha’s convoy and that of Senator Anyanwu is one ugly incident too many.
This latest incident happened barely two weeks after security operatives attached to the governor reportedly battered a commercial bus driver in the state capital for allegedly blocking the governor’s convoy. It is sad and, indeed, unfortunate that Governor Okorocha has either wittingly or unwittingly allowed himself or his aides to carry on with such uncouth and barbaric behaviour that should not be permitted in a civilized society. Such unruly behaviour belongs to the jungle.
It is also regrettable that Okorocha has learnt nothing from similar abuse of power by his predecessor in office, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, whose security operatives dehumanized a Catholic priest because the priest purportedly did not give the ex-governor’s convoy the right of way. That unfortunate episode did not help Ohakim re-election bid at all. Okorocha needs reminding that those “who fail to learn from history are bound to repeat it”.
It is, therefore, very disheartening that Okorocha, who rode to power on the crest of seeming public disapproval of the actions of the immediate past administration in the state, is now surpassing his predecessor’s high-handedness by harassing and intimidating the people who elected him to serve them. Last year alone, some of the governor’s unpopular policies left the people disenchanted. Today, Imo State fondly called the “Eastern Heartland”, is gradually becoming a den of armed gangs, with even the government’s own officials not spared by kidnappers.
This is one terror the governor ought to devote his energies to contain rather than unnecessary show of power. Governance is a human enterprise. The Chief Executive of a State holds power in trust for the people. It is not a horsewhip to be turned against the people. Therefore, elected officials should learn and practise how to use power. That is the essence of leadership. It should be deployed for the good of the people, not against them.
The governor risks squandering the goodwill of Imo citizens if he continues in this unbridled, naked use of executive power. Beyond the Imo State convoy clash, we urge the police authorities and other security agencies to review the issue of use of convoys by public officers. The way they are used by those in authority today leaves much to be desired.