Since the arrest of Rochas Okorocha recently, a lot of stories have been flying right, left and center.
• Some accused him of milking Imo State dry.
• Others say he appropriated govt property for personal use.
• Some said he has done nothing.
• There is nothing my ears have not heard. But that is a story for another day.
But the question I ask is, why is it that each time an Igbo man indicates interest in contesting for the presidency of this country, enemies of Ndigbo will quickly shelve their differences to unite against the Igbo presidential ambition, using Igbo cronies and stooges?
It has always happened each time an Igbo man indicated an interest in the presidency of Nigeria. They always used traps and tricks to frustrate ambition. And most of the time, they use fellow Igbo brothers to execute the hatchet job.
When Zik joined NPP and wanted to come out for the presidency, they said that he did not pay his tax. We all know the fellow Igbos they used or tried to use. But when they found out that the Igbos were massively behind Zik, they now quickly agreed that Zik paid tax as and at when due.
They did it to Ojukwu. Ojukwu was promised heaven and earth in Ivory Coast. I heard that he was even promised the vice-presidency to replace Ekwueme if he returns to Nigeria from exile and joins the ruling party and after serving as vice-president, he would be in a better position to become the president.
When Ojukwu rejected the idea of ditching Ekwueme, his kinsman, I heard he was again, promised him the Senate President which was then occupied by late Joseph Wayas. Did Ojukwu get the Senate president? Capital No!
Coast, so the NPN pretended that they were with Ojukwu and made the coast so clear by giving him the senatorial ticket of the NPN in his zone. But then, they set a trap through the NPP to kill Ojukwu’s ambition. Again, we all know the fellow Igbos they used to achieve these ends.
On the recent arrest of Okorocha, my concern here is not about the legality or otherwise of Okorochas’s arrest. It is about why Igbos will always allow themselves to be used against themselves in national politics.
People don’t know the real import of what is happening between Hope Uzodimma and Okorocha or what the arrest is really all about. It was all about Okorocha’s indication of interest to contest the next presidential election and a plan by external forces to thwart that ambition as they always did in the past. Whoever is telling you it is about Royal Palm Estate or whatever is not telling you the truth.
Is this how we will produce the next President of Nigeria? By fighting ourselves at the behest of external influences. Time will tell.
Have we Igbos ever wondered why top APC leaders fought Okorocha almost to a standstill the time he won the Senatorial election in Imo by refusing to swear him in in the Senate? We all remember that it was Okorocha, Buhari, Tinubu and a few others that formed the present APC. Buhari, a Fulani man came from the CPC; Tinubu, a Yoruba, came from AC and Rochas, an Igbo, came from APGA.
After APC won the presidential election, we all knew that the Senate president should naturally come from the South East. And APC leaders know too well that Okorocha, being a smart politician and core Igbo patriot as well as one of the architects of the APC, would insist that Igbos got that position.
So immediately Okorocha won the Senatorial election, Oshiomole sacked him from the APC and joined our brothers in Imo State to fight him, accusing him of many things. When Okorocha noticed the game plan, he went to court to assert his senatorial ticket but the court was not forthcoming in treating his case.
Immediately the APC finished sharing the principal offices in the national assembly, I think two days after the sharing, the court which had been sleeping, quickly brought up Okorocha’s case, and before one could say, Jack, the court ordered that Rochas should be given the Senatorial ticket. And he was quickly sworn-in.
Neither Oshiomole nor anyone else raised any objection. Their aim had been achieved. If Okorocha had been sworn-in along with others, there is no way Igbos would have lost out.
Notwithstanding, I was not quite in support of the ways Okorocaha handled the issues of Massob and IPOB during his tenure which got him the nickname Okoro Hausa.
In spite of this, Okorocha remains one of the most patriotic and resourceful Igbo politicians till today. As National President of the Association of South East Town Union Past Presidents-General, I am in touch with almost most communities and other Igbo cultural groups in Igbo land and therefore in a position to say what I am saying. I stand to be corrected. We will soon address a world press conference on this and other national issues affecting Ndigbo.
In the history of the South East, apart from one or two governors, none has protected the interest of the Igbo man as Okorocha.
For instance, of all the Igbo governors and businessmen, it was Okorocha who felt the need for a befitting secretariat for Ohaneze Ndigbo and decided to build a modern and well-equipped secretariat for Ohaneze at his personal cost which he did and which is today the pride of the Igbo man.
Everybody knew that the former secretariat at Park Avenue given to Ohaneze some thirty years ago or thereabout, being a colonial building, had become unbefitting as a secretariat of Ohaneze Ndigbo, far below the standard of even State party secretariats.
It is funny enough that it is only when Hope Uzodimma became governor that Ohaneze Ndigbo broke into two factions, led by Prof. Obiozor and Engr. Chidi Ibe, at a time Igbos are agitating for a president of Igbo extraction.
When there was a similar threat of factionalization in Ohaneze with a disagreement between Ralph Uwechue and Ralph Obioha, we all know the role Okorocha played and all the sacrifices he made by single-handedly reconciling the two people without taking sides, despite that one of the parties was his bosom friend, thereby forestalling the creation of factions. That is how Igbo patriots act.
True to type, the new factional Ohaneze President, Prof. Obiozor, from his first official statement on the appointment of new service chiefs, shows he is no longer the diplomatic Obiozor we used to know. Just see how he tried to fan the embers of Igbo disunity by disowning a section of Igbos in Delta State. My full reaction to this terrible error of judgment is on the way.
Most Igbo governors and politicians are known to regard their respective states as their exclusive constituencies, caring little about the collective problem of Igbos. But when Rochas noticed the problem of many intelligent but indigent Igbo children who cannot acquire good education because of parental poverty, he built an ultra-modern school near Akanu Ibiam International airport and insisted that only children of poor people should study there and free of charge. That is how Igbo patriots act.
We all know the role played by Rochas when Ojukwu died, as more or less the symbol of Igbos. While other Igbo governors were foot-dragging about organizing befitting obsequies for the late Ikemba, Okorocha was the first governor to host Ojukwu’s remains at a memorable State funeral night at Owerri and followed this up with the building of Odumegwu Ojukwu Center at Owerri. This is how Igbo patriots act.
I don’t want to continue recounting more instances of Okorocha’s consistent exhibition of Igbo patriotism more than all the Igbo governors, past and present. Let me just say that Nothing lasts forever in this world.
I always love to remember what Zik once told Asika – No condition is permanent. The rest is history. I remember what Diya told Abacha – The day you start to insult people, others will insult you. What goes up must come down. If not today, it will be tomorrow.
I am begging Igbos to stop all this nonsense. All these things will not help us. I also advise people who hold public offices to be careful.
By Mazi Omife I. Omife, Mbuze Mbaukwu.
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