Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo state has the proverbial lion heart and has dared where people dreaded. Things that even military governments could not dare in the state, Rochas waded through them, unscathed. The seeming impossible move of sending bulldozers to Ekeukwu market in Owerri, for which the people cried blue murder, has become history. He has come out seemingly unhurt. To think that even military governments of yester-years did not dare make such a move, in spite of recommendations to that effect. In his urban renewal project, he brought down many structures that obstructed development space, including those owned by the high and mighty. He brought down one of his houses, which was an obstruction, to show that no one was untouchable in the matter. He has shown a strong streak in being his own man and running the state as he deems fit. He has not been in the good books of the elite and makes no bones about consigning protocols to the backwaters, if they stand in his way. We must concede the man a large dose of courage, such that he would aim his political arrow at the presidency, without as much experience as that of a local government chairman. It was worth his committing resources to forming a party in the years gone by, to pursue the project for which the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) must have made quantum leaps in its bank balances, on account of what he would have paid in pursuit of the project in past years before scaling down to the gubernatorial level. His current deputy, Eze Madumere, stood election to the Senate, a further political foray of the party whose sobriquet my memory seems to have bluntly refused to retain. Rochas has always been his own man. He would look political giants in the face and challenge them to a duel. Former Governor Achike Udenwa and a few known names, including President Muhhamadu Buhari’s lawyer, Chief Mike Ahamba, SAN, who took the President all the way to the Supreme Court in one of his previous contests, only to be forced out of the Imo wing of All Progressive Congress (APC), he claimed, by Rochas, who would not defer to anybody, irrespective of your donkey years of experience. Ahamba, Udenwa and others stormed out on the throes of the last presidential polls, which saw his client and political ally striking gold at the fourth attempt, leaving the lawyer watching from the sidelines of his new-found opposition. This is not about Udenwa or Ahamba, who would probably have walked into the office of Attorney-General and Minister of Justice as a well-deserved booty of a long-drawn political battle. Rochas gained from his loss by nominating the current minister of state for Education, Professor Anthony Anwuka, who Rochas confessed was one of the few who lent his support to his gubernatorial ambition when others looked the other way. Rochas had no hand in a professor’s emergence as junior minister to a less experienced boss, but that is the way of politics. Professor Anwuka was his choice for the Imo slot, a reward for supporting him. I understand that that there is a marital relationship between both families.
The governor really gives no hoot about running a government of the family, by the family and for the family. In places where the presidential system we run is borrowed, some families have made the presidency a family affair as exemplified in the Bush family, where father and son took turns at the top job. Rochas sees no big deal, the type that sparks public opinion with angst against his family-prone appointments. What if his son-in-law is chief of staff and his sister is elevated from deputy chief of staff to commissioner? That is not the bone of contention, as the office the ‘innovative’ governor has created. I must confess that Rochas has brainwaves and being the political giant in his domain, including the House of Assembly, no one can suggest to His Excellency that happiness and fulfillment cannot be attained by fiat of appointment. The governor has by the ingenuity of that appointment of his sister, Mrs. Ogechi Ololo, as Commissioner for Happiness and Purpose Fulfillment, made the lady the most popular appointee in the nation today, one that has already attracted the attention of the international media. Rochas has thrust his sister into our faces, from her rather obscure post as deputy chief of staff in charge Government House and domestic affairs. Who else to take charge of such sensitive position but a family member? From the outset of the new appointees, she towered above her colleagues in the 28-memebr cabinet. The state would never forget the reign of a certain Rochas Okorocha! This Rochas would become President and get the right brainwave of appointing a minister for Boko Haram, minister of long life, minister of Fulani herdsmen, as if such problems are solved by virtue of appointments. I recall a meeting the governor held with some Imo indigenes resident in Lagos in this first tenure, where they tabled their complaints, including non-admission of their children and wards into higher institutions, in spite of high scores in examinations for that purpose. He paused, appeared to be in a world of his own, and said, “who do we appoint for this function?”
I wondered the mode of operation of such an appointee. When the governor created this novel ministry and appointed his sister, I recalled that incident and wondered as of old. But the governor says it’s a pivotal ministry, implying he thought about it. Addressing some top-ranking naval officers on a courtesy call, he said “In Imo, we have decided to take the bull by the horns by introducing that very important Ministry of Happiness and Purpose Fulfillment. We are starting with secondary schools, in order to catch them young and guide them to what they wish to be in life.”
Let us give a round of applause to the governor for creating a Ministry of Guidance and Counselling in a new nomenclature. We welcome Mrs. Ololo, the Counsellor-General of Imo State. There should be a limit to spontaneity. This one is a brainwave gone awry. I admit that Governor Okorocha has developed Owerri, far beyond what he met. Those who slam him must admit that; as the saying goes, no one can hide pregnancy. But the governor should not end a seeming good dance with a terrible step and make nonsense of his previous vigorous dance. This appointment is a brainwave gone awry. Happiness is not a function of appointment. Your Excellency, I beg to differ.